North West 200 boss Mervyn Whyte has urged fans to come out and show their support for the famous international road race this week.

The organisers suffered a hammer blow last May when inclement weather, a hoax bomb scare and an oil spill saw the race cancelled with only one Supersport race held, which was won by British Superbike contender Alastair Seeley.

Whyte, technical director at the NW200, and his team have worked hard to bounce back in 2012 and have secured a stellar line-up of the world's best road racers.

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Among the changes is the introduction of racing on Thursday evening, when a Supertwin 650 race and Superstock race will be held following daytime practice to whet the appetite for Saturday's main event.

Whyte said: "Unfortunately last year we had bad luck with the weather and an oil spill, plus the hoax bomb scare which everyone is aware of.

"Since then we have done a lot of PR and marketing around the event and made a number of changes with racing on the Thursday evening and daytime practice on the Tuesday.

"We have taken on a lot of feedback from spectators, sponsors and from the Press on how we need to change things and we've reacted to that," he said.

"I would like to think that with decent weather the crowds will come out and support us. The line-up this year is extremely good and I don't think anyone can
argue over the quality of the entry for the North West 200.

"There is plenty of interest in the new Supertwin race on Thursday evening with Jeremy McWilliams among the entries and obviously the likes of Ryan Farquhar, Michael Rutter and Simon Andrews," added Whyte.

"The five races on the Saturday are all over six laps and we will try and run those races as efficiently as we can. We have a brilliant entry, so we hope people come and support us and buy a programme."

The first practice session takes place on the 8.9-mile circuit on Tuesday.