A dream come true as World Superbikes line up for new Lake Torrent race circuit next year.

Wednesday, 7 February 2018

A dream come true as World Superbikes line up for new Lake Torrent race circuit next year. thumbnail An Aerial view of what the completed Lake Torrent Circuit Complex will look like next year.

World Superbikes are coming to Coalisland!

The flagship motorcycling championship will host a round at the new Lake Torrent Circuit at the old clay pits in 2019, which is due to be completed in just over 12 months' time.

It is a major boost for the still under-development track and will bring world class motorcycle racing to Tyrone.

A three-year contract has been agreed to bring the WorldSBK series to Northern Ireland, with the date of the inaugural race to be confirmed in the autumn of this year.

The Courier exclusively revealed the exciting plans just under two years ago, and reported at the time on the desire to bring World Superbikes to the region, and last Thursday's major announcement means the dream will soon be a reality.

Lake Torrent is the brainchild of Manna Developments founder and motor-racing enthusiast David Henderson and is set to regenerate the Coalisland area through new jobs in the business, leisure and engineering sectors - as well as boosting tourism in Mid-Ulster and further afield.

The WorldSBK Championship is one of the largest motorsport championships in the world. Now in its 31st season, the championship is contested by 59 teams, visiting 12 countries and with global TV airtime in excess of 18,000 hours.

Northern Ireland will join a list of host nations that currently includes Australia, Thailand, Spain, Holland, Italy, England, Czech Republic, USA, Portugal, France, Argentina and Qatar.

The Lake Torrent Circuit will be 3.6km (2.2 miles) in length, featuring 12 corners with a width of 12-15m and elevations of +/-30m, accompanied by full supporting facilities.

Estimated to create 700 jobs in the 18 month construction phase, with longer term plans to build a further 90 retail and business units around the circuit, Lake Torrent will bring a huge financial boost to the Mid-Ulster area and is set to become more than just a race track.

Last September, Mid-Ulster District Council granted planning permission for the first phase of work at Lake Torrent which includes the race circuit, pits, medical centre, restaurant, hospitality suites, six business units and a crèche, as well as a new public ring road to bypass the town and facilitate easy access in and out of the circuit.

Sinn Fein MP for Mid-Ulster, Francie Molloy, has been heavily involved in supporting the project since its inception, and he stated his delight at seeing the project coming to fruition.

Speaking to the Courier, Mr Molloy said: "This will really put Coalisland on the map in terms of world sport.

"Everybody can benefit from this, not just businesses around Coalisland but in Dungannon, Cookstown and even as far as Belfast.

"It really will be a dream come true when it's all completed." Welcoming the announcement, Chair of Mid-Ulster District Council, Councillor Kim Ashton, said: "The development of Lake Torrent as a world class venue for motorsport is hugely important for Mid-Ulster and its position has been boosted by news that a competitive event of the standard and reputation of the World Superbike Championship has been secured for three consecutive years." For David Henderson of Manna Developments, Lake Torrent will be the fulfillment of a long-held ambition.

He said: "For the past 15 years it has been a dream of mine to build a motor racing circuit that incorporates the feel of the road with the safety of an international standard track - and also to bring the World Superbike Championship to Northern Ireland.

"Having finally identified the perfect location and achieved planning permission last year, this sees the completion of that dream and is a day that will only be topped when we see tens of thousands of spectators converge in Coalisland for the first WorldSBK racing event in Northern Ireland. They really don't come much bigger than this.

"This is a historic milestone for the town of Coalisland, the county of Tyrone and indeed for the whole of Northern Ireland as we celebrate the realisation of our vision to create an internationally recognised motorsport arena which will become a venue for regional, national and international competitions for many years to come."

Speaking at a reception in the Mid-Ulster Council offices in Dungannon, WorldSBK Executive Director Daniel Carrera said: "We are delighted to be adding Northern Ireland as a destination for the MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship. The Lake Torrent circuit is a fantastic project that will deliver a high-class facility for competitors and visitors.

We are proud that Manna Developments and Mid-Ulster representatives have chosen WorldSBK as their top event for the international promotion of the circuit and region." Reigning WorldSBK champion Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team), who hails from Ballyclare, has also lent his support to the agreement: "I'm so excited about this news because motorcycling in Northern Ireland has a huge heritage, right through from Joey Dunlop to myself and Eugene Laverty.

"I'm very curious to see how the track is going to look, but I'm sure it will be very well attended because the fans here love their bikes."


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