By Roy Harris Belfast Telegraph.
The famous Ulster Grand Prix at Dundrod looks to have reached the end of the road.
Officially in the record books as the world’s fastest road race, the UGP is saddled by debts of £300,000 with hopes of a rescue package fading.
Despite their hopes of a reprieve, a statement from the Dundrod and District Motorcycle Club organisers yesterday appeared to accept time is running out to begin preparations for this year’s scheduled August event.
Many riders remain unpaid from last year and simply won’t commit to taking part without the financial guarantees they depend upon to keep racing. Other service providers are also awaiting payment after the already struggling event reached a tipping point last year when bad weather drastically reduced crowd attendances over race week.
Ironically, it was also the year the UGP regained its place in the record books as the world’s fastest road race when English rider Peter Hickman scorched to an outright lap record of 136.415mph.
But the iconic race, due to celebrate its centenary in 2022, now appears to have been red flagged after yesterday’s statement admitted: “Over the past months the race organisers have met with a host of public representatives including councillors, Westminster MPs, MLAs and other government officials. Representation has also been made to the recently restored NI Assembly and the Department for Communities Minister.
“Whilst there has been a sympathetic hearing to the UGP’s plight, the crisis situation remains. Discussions continue but, so far, no financial assistance has been made available as we move into the period when preparation for the 2020 event should have been well underway.”