Motorsport 'field of dreams' signs up World Superbikes for track in Tyrone village
Still under construction, new Lake Torrent track has signed up its first racing series - and it's a global event
Lake Torrent, a former clay pit mine, lies just east of Dungannon, and the track’s owners and builders have promised to create hundreds of jobs, build a local bypass, and build a facility that includes race circuit, pits, medical centre, restaurant, hospitality suites, six business units and even a crèche
Current World Superbikes champion Jonathan Rea is from Ballynure, Co Antrim. “I’m so excited about this news because motorcycling in Northern Ireland has a huge heritage, right through from Joey Dunlop to myself and Eugene Laverty”. Photograph: Getty images
The new Lake Torrent race track, located in Coalisland, Co Tyrone, is still a building site right now, but it has already signed up its first major racing series - World Superbikes. The global motorbike racing series will, if all goes to plan, visit Lake Torrent in 2019, and has signed a deal to come back for 2020 and 2021 as well.
David Henderson of Manna Developments is the, ‘scuse the pun, driving force behind the track, and says that it has always been a dream of his to bring such a globally-significant racing series to Northern Ireland.
“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,” said Mr Henderson. “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 tens of thousands of spectators converge in Coalisland for the first WorldSBK racing event in Northern Ireland. They really don’t come much bigger than this.”
Motorbike racing is, of course, hugely popular in Northern Ireland, and the current World Superbikes champion, Johnathan Rea, is a local lad, from Ballynure, Co Antrim. “I’m so excited about this news because motorcycling in Northern Ireland has a huge heritage, right through from Joey Dunlop to myself and Eugene Laverty” he said.
“I’m very curious to see how the track is going to look, but I’m sure it will be very well attended because the fans over there love their bikes. I can’t wait to get the chance to go there in 2019, and it’s an incredible way to nurture young talent. I can’t wait to be involved and to fly the flag for Northern Ireland in this new adventure, and it would be nice to create a circuit that many people talk about as the best in the world.”
Lake Torrent, a former clay pit mine, lies just east of Dungannon, and the track’s owners and builders have promised to create hundreds of jobs, build a local bypass, and build a facility that includes race circuit, pits, medical centre, restaurant, hospitality suites, six business units and even a crèche. The signing of the Superbikes series is the first potential evidence that the circuit will be able to attract the sort of big-name, big-attraction series that it will need to turn a profit in the notoriously difficult world of motorsports. The event is predicted to pull in a crowd of some 30,000 spectators.
Welcoming the announcement, chair of Mid Ulster District Council, Councillor Kim Ashton, said: “The development of Lake Torrent as a world class venue for motorsport is hugely important for Mid Ulster and its position has been boosted by news that a competitive event of the standard and reputation of the World Superbike Championship has been secured for three consecutive years. I am delighted to have hosted a reception for the championship representatives and for those who are spearheading Lake Torrent and look forward to meeting and working with them as the project develops.”