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Road Racing News

Opinion – If Mervyn Whyte Retires It Will Be A Massive Blow For The North West 200

Race Director Mervyn Whyte has reflected on a challenging 2017 North West 200 which thankfully had a fairy tale ending.

The Limavady man is taking a well deserved holiday before considering his own future.

Having recently experienced health issues, the 67-year-old has made it known he wants to leave his post on a high, and certainly this year’s event was just that.

Whyte has been involved with the international event since 1973 and worked under the former Clerk of the Course Billy Nutt.

His position has not been without criticism over the years and there certainly has been many highs and lows during his time at the helm.

The death of Robert Dunlop was a huge blow for the event but one that dramatically turned into a triumphant high when Robert’s son Michael won his race just two days later, a win that caused a emotional surge of joy and tears never seen at the event before.

Whyte has also been a top race official in the British Superbike Championship and has played a major role inviting teams and riders to the North West 200.

Photo by Gavan Caldwell

One of his proudest moments was bringing World Superbike Champion Carl Fogarty to the Portstewart seaside resort and the shock announcement that Glenn Irwin would be be competing this year on his fabulous bright red Italian Be Wiser Ducati.

Mervyn has always been a very astute PR negotiator to make sure the race event gets the maximum media coverage. The event needs at least £80,000 to run so sponsorship for the race week is vital.

The future for road racing is very uncertain with the spiralling costs of insurance and other issues so government assistance is a must.

If Mervyn quits his post it will be a massive blow for the Coleraine Motorcycle Club because there is simply nobody indicating they will fill the highly stressful and pressurised position of Race Director.

Words by Gavan Caldwell