Staging road races has been far from a cake walk over the past few years. Even before the COVID-19 pandemic wiped out most events—including the Isle of Man TT—organisers have contended with rising costs and dwindling funds.
2023 may yield the same result. But, this time, skyrocketing insurance rates could be road racing’s undoing. Quoted costs for public liability insurance have more than tripled since last year. For the Ulster Centre of the Motorcycle Union of Ireland alone, insurance costs have spiked to £330,000 for five road races and short circuit/trials events.
That dwarfs the £110,000 paid by the organisation in 2022. When including other elements covered under the policy, the total balloons to £410,000. In turn, organising clubs would need to pay £53,280 in insurance bills. That's a far cry from the £16,850 charged by insurers in 2022.
The escalating prices threaten the Cookstown 100 (April 21-22, 2023), Tandragee 100 (April 28-29, 2023), North West 200 (May 9-13, 2023) Armoy (July 28-29, 2023) and, of course, the Ulster Grand Prix (August 18-19, 2023). Pegged as one of the most celebrated races in the region, the North West 200 faces a rate hike from £30,800 to £97,000 on its own.
The Motorcycle Union of Ireland (Ulster Centre) isn’t taking the markups lying down, though. The organisation has engaged in negotiations with insurance providers for months. On the evening of Thursday, February 9, 2023, the two entities will meet again in an attempt to reach a last-minute deal. If insurers don’t provide some relief, however, we may go yet another year without prominent road racing events.