The Superbike World Championship (WorldSBK) motorcycling series will make its Northern Ireland debut next year at an under-construction circuit in Coalisland, County Tyrone.
Lake Torrent Circuit will be the site for the historic event, with specific dates to be announced at a later date. Northern Ireland’s Jonathan Rea (pictured) has won the past three WorldSBK titles and the country represents a key target market for the series. A three-year hosting rights agreement has been signed with WorldSBK.
The circuit is being developed by Manna Developments, and it is hoped the project will breathe new life into the local business, engineering and leisure sectors. The circuit has been designed by Driven International and will seek to transform 163 acres of former clay pits into a state-of-the-art motorsport circuit.
Work on Lake Torrent Circuit is expected to begin later this year. It will feature a 3.6km circuit with 12 corners of a width of 12-15m. About 700 jobs are expected to be created during the 18-month construction phase, with long-term plans to eventually build 90 retail and business units around the circuit.
David Henderson of Manna Developments said: “For the past 15 years it has been a dream of mine to build a motor-racing circuit that incorporates the feel of the road with the safety of an international standard track – and also to bring the World Superbike Championship to Northern Ireland.
“Having finally identified the perfect location and achieved planning permission last year, today sees the completion of that dream and is a day that will only be topped when we see up to 30,000 spectators converge in Coalisland for the first WorldSBK racing event in Northern Ireland. They really don’t come much bigger than this.
“This is a historic milestone for the town of Coalisland, the county of Tyrone and indeed for the whole of Northern Ireland as we celebrate the realisation of our vision to create an internationally recognised motorsport arena which will become a venue for regional, national and international competitions for many years to come.”
Daniel Carrera, WorldSBK executive director, added: “We are proud that Manna Developments and Mid ulster representatives have chosen WorldSBK as their top event for the international promotion of the circuit and region. We know that the proper management of this kind of facility could provide the local community with new opportunities through business, job creation, leisure and tourism.
“With the large tradition and culture in motorcycling in Northern Ireland, I am sure that this event could become a reference in our championship in the near future.”