National road racing faces another setback

Adrian Archibald on his way to his first North West 200 victory in 2003
Adrian Archibald on his way to his first North West 200 victory in 2003

Highly experienced Northern Ireland road racer Adrian Archibald’s absence from the grids this year is yet another hammer blow for the sport.

Ryan Farquhar and John Burrows pulled the plugs on their careers in 2012 following the death of Trevor Ferguson at the Manx Grand Prix.

And now Archibald’s decision to call time on his career is more gloomy news for cash-strapped National roads events, depriving start-lines of three of road racing’s most committed exponents.

With the exception of the early-season Cookstown 100 and late summer Armoy meetings, many of the smaller events face the prospect of running without a recognised top-tier name to draw in the crowds.

Michael and William Dunlop now stand alone as the star attractions at events such as Tandragee, Skerries and Killalane.

However, both have vowed to pick and choose their races carefully in 2013, staying loyal to those clubs that have helped them along the path to success.

While the diehards will still attend races where the Dunlops are not present, the depressing lack of quality throughout the field will have a detrimental effect on overall crowd numbers.

Anyone who chooses to believe otherwise is out of touch.

Worryingly, Archibald fears the year ahead could hit road racing harder than any that has gone before as the financial crisis bites ever harder.

“Not only will a lot of top riders be missing this year, but a lot of riders down the field will disappear as well,” Archibald said.

“There is no money around and riders just can’t afford it.

“It was tough when I was riding because you had full grids at every race and a really top quality field,” he added.

“You could have had up to eight riders who could have won with the likes of Joey, Richard Britton, Darran Lindsay, Martin Finnegan and boys like that - not any more.”