MotoGP and WorldSBK promoters Dorna are being somewhat more cautious in their backing for a proposed new Northern Ireland circuit after having their fingers rather badly burnt in Wales.
Nevertheless, Daniel Carrera sounded enthusiastic this week saying: “It is a very interesting project for us. We know the culture, the passion for motorbike racing in Northern Ireland so we are very optimistic we can find an agreement and see the project happening in 2019.”
Adding a note of caution he said no deal would be in place until the circuit was completed and received the required homologation level from the FIM.
The proposal, which has received planning permission from Mid-Ulster District Council, is to construct a 2.3-mile(3.59k) circuit on a 57 acre former clay plant at Lake Torrens near Coalisland. The backers, Manna Developments, have claimed it will create 500 jobs and will include the building of hotels and other infrastructure. A cost of £30m has been estimated - all in all a rather more modest, but more realistic, project than the ill-fated Circuit of Wales.
Conversations on the feasibility of the project began with Dorna a year ago and with planning permission being granted will intensify with the initial circuit plans being shared with the FIM inspector.
“Once the work starts there will be further inspections and if there is a circuit that can be homologated, and for sure will receive homologation, then we will find an agreement,” said Carrera. “We have a Northern Ireland ambassador in Jonathan Rea so we are very optimistic it can be a successful event in terms of spectator attendance. We will put all our efforts into making it a reality.”
Northern Ireland, the capital of racing on the roads, already has two short circuits, Kirkistown and Bishopscourt, both ex-airfields. The owners of the latter have invested heavily but it suffers from noise restrictions.
North West 200 boss Mervyn White said: “I welcome this initiative and wish it every success. It would be great to have World or British Superbike racing in Northern Ireland.”