The penultimate round of the 2011 Irish Road Racing Championship has been cancelled after extensive oil and diesel spillages around the circuit could not be cleared in time for the races.
With organisers suspecting foul-play as the reason for the spillages, a clean-up campaign was immediately implemented, but the sheer extent of the pollution meant that by 12.30 BST, the organisers had no choice but to call the Mid-Antrim 150 meeting off.
“We did our best to run the event but I wasn't prepared to risk the safety of riders,” said Clerk of the Course Jack Agnew. “It looks like it was malicious but I've no evidence to prove that."
This unwelcome development comes at a very difficult time for road racing, as it struggles to survive financially in the current economic climate.
Indeed, with no 'paying' spectators, the events are heavily reliant on sponsorship deals, while a lack of funds for start money has left it struggling to attract top riders to. As a consequence, it is impeding the club's ability to attract new sponsors and backers.
Last year, the Dunlop brothers, William and Michael withdrew from the meeting due the lack of start money available, and were conspicuous by their absence from this year's entry list too.
They are not alone in their views as Ryan Farquhar, who remains the most successful rider to compete at the Clough circuit, urging organisers to consider a different approach to attracting recognised names.
“I believe that the top half dozen riders who do this for a living should get free entries. I own all my own bikes and prepare them myself and if I won all the races I'm entered tomorrow, took out my expenses, I would not have much left.”
By Graham Edwards