By Kyle White
The owner of a top Northern Ireland short circuit venue is refusing to throw in the towel in his bid to bring a round of the British Superbike Championship across the Irish Sea.
Jim O'Brien, who owns the Bishopscourt race track neat Downpatrick in County down, has long harboured an ambition to host a round of the prestigious series.
Following extensive resurfacing work at the circuit plus the addition of a new 'loop' section which was used for the first time at last weekend's Sunflower Trophy meeting,
O'Brien has been in talks with the organisers of the British championships about the possibility of Bishopscourt being included on the BSB calendar in the next few years.
He is confident the circuit now represents the standard required for hosting an event at that level following significant financial investment provided by the Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure (DCAL) in Northern Ireland through Sport NI.
And although O'Brien admits that negotiations are proving tougher than expected, he has not given up hope completely that a compromise can be achieved.
“It's taking longer than we would have thought,” he explained.
“We've been in hard negotiations to be honest and whether it comes off or not remains to be seen, but we haven't given up hope.
“In saying that, we have other irons in the fire if the BSB plans don't work out but I'm just not prepared to go into that in any further detail at present.”
Bishopscourt benefited from a £2m motorsport funding package as part of DCAL/Sport NI-funded Investment in Motorsport Programme 2009-2011, administered by motorsport body 2&4 Wheels, which concluded earlier this year.
A total of £1.2m was set aside for development work at the Bishopscourt, Kirkistown and Nutts Corner circuits in Ulster.
O'Brien added: “The only thing that may go against us is the lack of pit garages at the circuit, plus it would take a considerable amount of money to bring the riders and teams.
“I think the fans would turn out in their thousands if we had a BSB race here and hopefully we can make it happen.”