The organisers of this year's Vauxhall International North West 200 have waived entry fees in an effort to alleviate the financial strain on competitors.

The decision will be of particular benefit to those riders who do not have the support of big-name sponsors or teams operating on a shoestring budget.

In the past, competitors have been required to stump up ?100 to enter each race.

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A total of eight races will be held at the event in Northern Ireland this year, with three events - the first Superstock, Supersport and Supertwin races on the Thursday of race week, May 16 plus a further five races on main race day, Saturday, May 18.

North West 200 Event director, Mervyn Whyte, said the organising Coleraine and District Motor Club was "aware of the pressure facing riders" at present.

"The Coleraine and District Motor Club Ltd are very aware of the pressures facing riders at the moment as they struggle to find the sponsorship and support to get to the grid," said Whyte.

"We have tried to take a positive step that will make it easier for everyone to race at this year's North West."

Ryan Farquhar, who has retired from road racing but will run a team in 2013, described the decision as "really good news".

"I was talking to Mervyn about this a while back and it's really good news for the lads competing further down the field," Farquhar told the Belfast News Letter.

"They are the ones who would've been paying entries in the past, so it's a big benefit to them.

"You take a lad who's maybe only riding a Supertwin at the North West and is only getting two runs out there and has no chance of getting any prize money - it's a big help to someone like that.

"It's a decision that will definitely appeal to a lot of lads and it's a good help."

A number of new regulations will come into place at the North West 200 this year to bring the meeting in line with FIM rules.

These include a requirement for all riders to fix front brake lever guards on their machines to prevent against a competitor's brake lever being inadvertently pressed by another competitor during racing.

Rear brake lights will also be mandatory during wet races or races held in low visibility on the direction of the clerk of the course.

Although 17-inch wheels will become a compulsory requirement for Superbikes next in 2014, riders can choose between 16.5 or 17-inch wheels this year.

The 2013 North West 200 runs from May 12-18.