Triple world superbike champion Jonathan Rea will have an opportunity to race in front of his home fans next year after series bosses confirmed that they have signed a three year deal to run at the new Lake Torrent circuit in Northern Ireland.
Construction of the new venue, located 40 minutes from Belfast at Coalisland, County Tyrone, is expected to begin later this year. The former clay pits will be transformed into a world class racing circuit that is set to be 2.2 miles long. The project is expected to generate 700 jobs during the construction stage, while 90 retail and business units across the venue will help contribute to a longer term regeneration of the area.
David Henderson of Manna Developments, the company behind the project, explained his passion for the project: “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.”
Speaking to Insidebikes when speculation of the new circuit broke last year, Rea commented: “It’s incredible, especially for young kids in Northern Ireland. Of course, it’s early days for such a massive project, but the news that they’ve broken ground is already very positive. To make it in sport, kids in Northern Ireland normally have to travel the Irish Sea most weekends to ride on proper facilities and against strong competition. It’s coming at a great time in my career. When it’s built, and I am trying to think about new ventures it would be exciting for me to get involved with and try and help bring young riders through, and to have a world class facility would be perfect.”
Speaking of the decision to go to the new circuit, WorldSBK Executive Director Daniel Carrera added: “We are delighted to be adding Northern Ireland as a destination for the MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship, Lake Torrent circuit is a fantastic project that will deliver a high-class facility for competitors and visitors. 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”