Possibly the best and fastest road race in the world
Welcome to the ultimate guide to the North West 200, one of the world’s fastest road races! In this guide, we will take a closer look at the history of the Vauxhall International North West 200, the rider lineup for the upcoming 2023 race, the key riders and competitors to watch out for, the breathtaking attractions of Northern Ireland, and the latest news and updates surrounding this thrilling event.
The North West 200 is one of the world’s most exhilarating and renowned motorcycle road races, held annually on closed roads in Northern Ireland. It features several categories, with the Superbike races being the highlight and crowd-puller of the event.
Superbike races at the North West 200 feature high-powered, 1000cc versions of standard road bikes, modified for competition. These bikes reach speeds over 200 mph on the public roads that make up the 8.9-mile circuit, known for its blend of long straights, fast bends, and challenging chicanes.
The race draws the best riders globally, creating a fiercely competitive field, battling not only against each other but the challenging and unique nature of the road course. The triangular circuit runs between the towns of Portstewart, Coleraine, and Portrush, creating an electrifying atmosphere as spectators line the streets, often within inches of the high-speed action.
Safety is paramount, with stringent regulations and measures in place. Despite these, the race is known for its dangers and has seen several accidents over its history.
The North West 200 is more than a race; it’s a week-long festival of motorcycling, where camaraderie, skill, and sheer thrill come together. It draws fans from all over the world, who come not only for the Superbike races but the entire racing spectacle, celebrating a rich tradition in motorbike racing.
The North West!
The North West 200, held annually in May around the “Triangle” of Portstewart/Portrush/Coleraine, is one of Northern Ireland’s biggest sporting events and one of the world’s fastest road races.
This is the place to go if you want an adrenaline rush. As you can be up close to the action, you can feel the wind as the bikes speed past, hear the noise reverberating through your chest, and smell those fumes, which, as any bike rider knows, just smell great.
History Of the North West 200
The North West 200 has a rich history that dates back to its first race in 1929. Over the years, it has grown in popularity and has become one of the most anticipated events in the motorcycle racing calendar. From its humble beginnings to its current status as a world-renowned road race, the North West 200 has captivated the hearts of racing enthusiasts.
See our article here on the History of the North West 200
Thursday 11th May – Race Schedule (5pm to 9pm)
Race 1 STRAIN ENGINEERING SUPERSPORT RACE (6 LAPS) 17.45 hrs
Race 2 BRIGGS EQUIPMENT SUPERSTOCK RACE (6 LAPS) 18.30 hrs
Race 3 MILLTOWN SERVICE STATION SUPERTWIN RACE (4 LAPS) 19.15 hrs
Saturday 13th May – Race Schedule (9:15am to 9pm)
Race 1 MILLTOWN SERVICE STATION SUPERTWIN RACE (4 LAPS) 10.00 hrs (Approx)
Race 2 TIDES RESTAURANT SUPERSPORT RACE (6 LAPS)
Race 3 ANCHOR BAR SUPERBIKE RACE (6 LAPS)
Race 4 J.M PATERSON SUPERTWIN RACE (4 LAPS)
Race 5 CP HIRE SUPERSTOCK RACE (6 LAPS)
Race 6 MERROW HOTEL AND SPA NW200 SUPERBIKE RACE (6 LAPS)
Tuesday 9th May – Practice Schedule (9.15am to 3.15pm)
1st Session – NEWCOMERS ONLY 09.45
2nd Session – SUPERSPORT 10.30
3rd Session – SUPERBIKE 11.30
4th Session – SUPERTWIN 12.30
5th Session – SUPERSTOCK 13.30
Thursday 11th May – Practice Schedule (9:15am to 3.15pm)
1st Session SUPERTWIN 09.45
2nd Session SUPERSTOCK 10.45
3rd Session SUPERSPORT 11.45
4th Session SUPERBIKE 12.45
ADDITIONAL INFORMATION FOR THE 2023 ROAD CLOSING
The Road Races (Amendment) Act (Northern Ireland) 2014 has been approved by the Northern Ireland Assembly and received Royal Assent. The changes to the road closing legislation now give the International North West 200 organisers, in exceptional circumstances, the ability to move a practice or race day, either one day forward or one day back, giving 24 hours’ notice to the Department for Infrastructure.
Should extreme weather be forecast, the 2023 contingency days could be: Wednesday 10th May and Friday 12th, May 2023.
In lieu of using one of the above full contingency days, organisers may also extend the road closing times on Tuesday 9th and Saturday 13th May 2023 as follows:
Existing Road Closing Contingency
Tuesday – 9.15am – 3.15pm 5.00pm – 9.00pm
Saturday – 9.15am – 7.00pm 7.00pm – 9.00pm
Any subsequent amendments to the race week schedule will be advertised to the public via the International North West 200 website, BBC NI TV & Radio and the NW200 Facebook and Twitter feed.
See the circuit maps and learn more about vantage points to watch the race. Most locations are free; you park and walk to the course. Our chosen spot is anywhere along the first couple of kilometres.
Rider Lineup for 2023
The 2023 North West 200 race is expected to feature an impressive lineup of talented riders from all over the world. One rider who has consistently dominated the North West 200 is the legendary Michael Dunlop. Known for his exceptional skills and fearless approach, Dunlop will undoubtedly be one to watch.
Exciting Superbike Race
One of the highlights of the North West 200 is the thrilling Superbike race. With speeds reaching up to 200mph, this race is a true test of skill, endurance, and bravery. The competitors push themselves and their bikes to the limit as they navigate the challenging twists and turns of the North West Coast.
What to Expect in the 2023 Race
The 2023 North West 200 race promises to be an exhilarating event filled with nail-biting moments and intense battles for supremacy. One rider who has consistently showcased his dominance in previous races is Michael Dunlop. With his unmatched experience and speed, he is expected to be a strong contender for the top spot.
Michael Dunlop has established himself as the King of the North West with his impressive track record. He has claimed victory in multiple races and continues to push the boundaries of what is possible on a motorcycle. Dunlop’s skill and determination make him a force to be reckoned with in the 2023 race.
Thrilling Superstock Race
In addition to the Superbike race, the Superstock race is another highly anticipated event at the North West 200. This race features production-based motorcycles, adding an element of relatability for motorcycle enthusiasts. The Superstock race is known for its fierce competition and close finishes, making it a must-watch for spectators.
The Supertwins race brings a unique flavor to the North West 200. With lightweight and nimble bikes, the competitors showcase their skills and tactics in this fiercely contested race. The Supertwins race is often filled with unpredictability and surprises, making it a crowd-favorite every year.
Key Riders and Competitors
Aside from Michael Dunlop, numerous other riders have made their mark on the North West 200. Alastair Seeley, known as the King of the North West, has a remarkable lap record of wins in this prestigious event. Glenn Irwin’s rise to success has also been impressive, and he is considered one of the top contenders in the upcoming race. The Honda Dream Team, consisting of talented riders, is also expected to make a strong showing.
Alastair Seeley: The King of the North West
Alastair Seeley’s name is synonymous with the North West 200. With a record-breaking number of wins, he has cemented his status as the all-time great of this race. Seeley’s skill, experience, and intimate knowledge of the circuit give him a competitive edge over his rivals.
Glenn Irwin’s Rise to Success
Glenn Irwin’s journey to success has been nothing short of remarkable. He has established himself as a formidable force on the motorcycle racing scene and has had considerable success at the North West 200. Irwin’s determination and natural talent make him a strong contender in any race he participates in.
The Honda Dream Team
The Honda Dream Team is a formidable group of riders who have come together to conquer the North West 200. With their collective skills, experience, and the support of Honda, this team is expected to make waves in the upcoming race. Their formidable lineup includes talented riders such as Davey Todd and Jeremy McWilliams.
- Eight races, four exciting classes: Supersport, Supertwin, Superstock, Superbike
- 4 hours of exciting timed practice sessions – Tuesday & Thursday
- Thursday Night Racing – 3 Races
- Saturday Racing All Day – 5 Races
- Riders Meet & Greet
- Vintage Bike & Car Run
- Paddock Walkabouts
- Live Music & Entertainment
- Family Motor Festival
- Family Fun Village
- Miss North West 200
- Fireworks Display
Special Offers, Grandstand Tickets, Paddock Passes and Race Programmes, will be available on the official websiteOfficial Ticket prices and sales. However, we recommend you book your accommodation now!
Accommodation for the North West 200
Tip: click the highlighted text to see accommodation options.
As you can imagine, with such a popular annual event, hotels and B&Bs in Portrush and Portstewart get booked out quickly for North West 200 week.
Fastest Laps At The NW200
Weather conditions since 2010 have also been inclement, more often than not, but 2016 finally saw perfect weather conditions, so the outright lap record was broken, unsurprisingly. Whilst the Superstock race saw a number of riders set their personal best laps, quicker than what they did in the Superbike race, it was the latter where the outright lap record was set with Michael Dunlop’s dominant victory seeing him lap at 123.207mph, half a second inside Josh Brookes’ old mark.
Despite superb weather in 2018, neither the Superbike nor Superstock lap records but after two years of various movements within the fastest 25 riders, records were finally broken in 2022 when racing resumed after two tears being missed due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Dunlop’s outright lap record was convincingly broken by no less than five riders with Peter Hickman claiming the record with a stunning lap of 124.799mph in the opening Superbike race. That means he now holds the unique record of being the current outright lap record holder at the NW200, Isle of Man TT and Ulster Grand Prix.
With good weather in 2022, lap records were broken in every class, a sign of motorcycle development in the hiatus with eight of the fastest 25 times coming in the year. Richard Cooper went from the fastest newcomer in 2019, with a speed of 120.659mph and 24thfastest on the charts, to the third fastest rider of all time. Davey Todd was another big moving going from 19th quickest to fourth.
Top 10 riders have now lapped the course at more than 120mph.
1 Peter Hickman 1000cc BMW 2022 Superbike 4m18.753s 124.799mph
2 Glenn Irwin 1000cc Honda 2022 NW200 4m19.048s 124.656
3 Richard Cooper 1000cc Suzuki 2022 NW200 4m19.280s 124.545
4 Davey Todd 1000cc Honda 2022 Superbike 4m19.344s 124.519
5 Dean Harrison 1000cc Kawasaki 2022 Superbike 4m21.572s 123.454
6 Michael Dunlop 1000cc BMW 2016 Superbike 4m22.095s 123.207
7 Josh Brookes 1199cc Ducati 2022 NW200 4m22.236s 123.141
8 Alastair Seeley 1000cc BMW 2017 Superstock 4m22.755s 122.898
9 Lee Johnston 1000cc BMW 2022 Superstock 4m22.764s 122.894
10 Ian Hutchinson 1000cc BMW 2016 Superstock 4m23.175s 122.702
Camping At The NW200
Suppose you are into camping or have a caravan/campervan. In that case, you can take a spot for the week in the official event campsite for £300, including two paddock passes. Note that there is no electric hookup. See more information about the official campsites.
There are also
Highview Holiday park
Highview Holiday Park in Portrush is a family-friendly camping destination. Offering caravan and tent sites with picturesque views, it’s a stone’s throw from beautiful beaches and local attractions. Amenities include electric hookups, laundry facilities, and a play area, making it an ideal base for the North West 200 and the Causeway Coast.
Maddybenny Farm Campsite
The Maddybenny farm is nicely tucked in behind the track just north of Portrush and with views over Portrush and Scotland. It has 10 hardstanding pitches on gravel for caravans and motorhomes, plus 14 grass tent pitches (some also suit caravans).
There are 16 electric hookup points too. Set in picturesque surroundings, with mature gardens and plenty of free-range hens, ducks and guinea fowl. Dogs allowed.
It’s an ideal place for a family holiday, and the campsite has just been enlarged, giving campers the luxury of lots of extra space.
This is where visitors can enjoy a quiet break within easy reach, The North West 200 Track.
Juniper Hill Caravan Park
Juniper Hill Caravan Park in Portrush is strategically positioned for the North West 200 motorbike race. With stunning coastal views, this well-equipped site offers caravan pitches and modern facilities. Its proximity to the race circuit and local amenities makes it a favoured choice for spectators and race enthusiasts looking for a convenient and scenic stay.
Another option is to make your way to a neighbouring town and, ideally, one well connected by public transport since parking around Portstewart or Portrush that week can be tricky, especially with road closures.
Train links: Portrush and Coleraine have a train service that, although relatively infrequent, is only 10 minutes or so. If you can’t find cheaper accommodation in Coleraine (it is pretty limited as I write this), you can easily catch another train either up the line towards Derry~Londonderry (try Castlerock) or down the line towards Belfast (try Ballymoney).
Bus links: While busses may be impacted by road closures and congestion, you can catch a bus from Portrush (usually hourly), which travels along the coast stopping at towns such as Portballintrae, Bushmills, Ballintoy and Ballycastle. This option works well if you are travelling with family who are not keen on motorsports and prefer sightseeing, a trip to the Bushmills distillery or beach life.
- Link to Translink Journey Planner for bus and train schedules