The Vauxhall International North West 200 was called off this afternoon after one race as a result of heavy rain.

Prolonged downpours left the circuit blighted by standing surface water, leaving conditions unsuitable for racing.

It is the second time in three years that the famous road race has been called off.

In 2011, the meeting was cancelled as a result of inclement weather, an oil spill and a hoax bomb alert.

The only action today was a red-flagged Supersport race, which was stopped after two laps when four riders crashed without serious injury.

Michael Dunlop was later announced as the winner on his Honda from Bruce Anstey and Lee Johnston, with Alastair Seeley fourth on corrected time.

The result was declared based on positions at the end of lap two.

Thousands of spectators began to leave the circuit when it became apparent that there was little likelihood of racing continuing as the rain became worse.

Finally, event director Mervyn Whyte announced that the remaining four races had been abandoned due to the conditions.

The decision was taken following a final inspection of the 8.9-mile circuit with John McGuinness, Michael Rutter and Stuart Easton.

"The weather has beaten us today," said Whyte.

"We had thought that we would get some racing in if things improved mid-afternoon but unfortunately that didn't happen.

"We've done a massive amount of work around the course with three road sweepers out there to try and clear the water but there's so much surface water that it was impossible to keep it clear.

"The forecast shows no ease up in the rain at all through until seven or eight o'clock tonight and I'm not prepared to take any chances at all because rider safety is the number one priority."

Whyte hit out at the Northern Ireland Government and the Northern Ireland Tourist Board following the huge setback for the event and issued a plea for more funding and a flexible Road Closing Order.

"The Road Closing Order we have here doesn't allow things to change," he said.

"If we had more flexibility then we could have closed the roads for three hours on Friday and had some racing because we knew Saturday would be bad.

"We got ?70,000 from the Northern Ireland Tourist Board this year and it's a disgrace the amount of money that the North West 200 receives compared to other events.

"The event puts a massive amount into the local economy and the Northern Ireland economy, yet we get a small, paltry figure from the Government," he added.

"It doesn't help us to run this event and the Government needs to give us more support and more flexible Road Closing Orders."

The North West 200 is the biggest outdoor sporting event in Northern Ireland and attracts in excess of 100,000 fans each year.