North West 200 organisers have confirmed that Thursday daytime practice will be continued in 2011 after receiving support from competitors and fans alike.
Last year the roads making up the route were closed at 9.30am and opened at 3pm, a format that the 2011 event will continue to adopt.
“Last year's inaugural daytime practice was a major success for both competitors and spectators providing extra time for teams and riders to set up machinery and generating essential additional circuit practice for both newcomers and seasoned riders,” technical director Mervyn White MBE stated.
“We hope that the new schedule will attract additional daytime spectators and create an enhanced visitor experience with more people taking up grandstand seats and utilising the paddock area during the day.
“The feedback from both teams and spectators was excellent and we aim to build on this for 2011 and future NW200 events.
“Although roads are closed around the circuit, Portrush and Portstewart are still open for business with Portrush accessed using the Bushmills and Dunluce roads and Causeway Street whilst access to Portstewart is via Coleraine town centre and the old Portstewart Road.
“Organisers the Coleraine Club will continue to work with residents or business owners who require special access to and from their homes or offices and we are currently visiting residents and traders in the area and will endeavour to make any special arrangements necessary.”
Michael Rutter, a 12-time winner of the North West 200, is also backing the decision to allow for more practice and set-up time.
“Thursday daytime practice was a major improvement for both riders and their back-up teams. We practised under similar conditions to Race Day itself and also experienced a longer time on the track which meant everyone was more relaxed on Race Day itself. Undoubtedly it's a big bonus and I'm pleased NW200 organisers are able to continue with daytime practice in 2011.”