Northern Ireland set to host World Sidecarcross round in 2022
Northern Ireland will host a round of the sidecarcross World Championship in 2022.
After a 42-year gap the North Armagh Motorcycle and Car Club Off Road section will oversee the event, which will return to our shores in late July early August.
It all began back in 1980 when the Irish round of the World Championship was held at Whitehead with the Swiss crew of Robert Grogg and Alfred Schacher powering their CH/Wasp Norton to overall victory.
The pair went on that year to finish fifth overall in the championship behind German pairing Reinard Bohler and Siegfried Muller.
Since the early days the championship has grown and now has a massive following throughout Europe, commanding a global audience of nearly one hundred million.
The 2021 championship saw a great battle between Netherland/French crew Etienne Bax/Nicholas Musset and Belgium/Netherland partnership of Marvin Vanluchene/Robbie Bax. Only five points separated them at the end of the 14-race series and both crews along with the best sidecarcross competitors will line up for the Northern Ireland Grand Prix next year.
It is an exciting time for the organisers who promoted the British championship in 2017 and 2018 and event co-ordinator Kenny Gardner, along with a small team of enthusiasts has been working tirelessly with Martin Bena (WSC promoter) to make it all happen.
“I have been attending GPs throughout the world ever since the Whitehead event and I’ve always wanted to see it return to Northern Ireland,” Gardner said.
“We have two very talented Northern Ireland riders from the Lisburn area - Neil Campbell and Ross Graham, the reigning Ulster Champions - and Gary Moulds and Lewis Gray, who will again be competing in 2022 for World Championship points.
“I think as a club and an organisation it is certainly a payback as such to try and bring a Grand Prix back to this country again.”
Planning for the event began a few years ago with the team speaking to individuals within the world series.
Garner added: “We started having chats with various people within the world organisation and three years ago, the year before Covid hit, a guy called Martin Benia from the Czech Republic took on the rights to run world sidecarcross and the WSC.
“We then started negotiations with Martin the bring a round of the championship to Northern Ireland.
“He has been very enthusiastic about coming to Northern Ireland. Martin believes taking it out of mainland Europe is a great opportunity to grow the sport.
“This will be the first in a long time that the championship will cross the Irish Sea. He is very excited and so are we to have been allocated a round of the 2022 World Sidecarcross and European quad cross championships.”
Team Ireland made history by winning the Quadcross of Nations in France earlier this year and for the club to bring a Grand Prix and a round of the European quadcross championship to Northern Ireland is a huge achievement. “We plan to run either late July or early August and we do hope that it will be in the Lisburn area,” said Gardner.
“We have had a setback in terms of the facility that we were originally going use, purely down to health issues with the land owner, and first and foremost we wish that landowner well.
“We are looking now at a number of other options and hopefully we will be able to make a full announcement soon on the event as a whole and will have a partner as a venue on board.
“We see this venue for not only sidecars but motocross in general.”
Back in 1980 Gardner was to race in the support class at the GP but his driver got injured and his involvement in that inaugural Grand Prix was through the N.I. Sidecarcross Supporters club.
“The NI Sidecarcoss Supporters club bailed the GP out as one of the main sponsors pulled out with eight weeks to go,” he recalled.
“The club gave them £3,000 and saved the event. It was a fantastic showcase for sidecarcross and having that GP in the country encouraged others to come in to the sport, and that is one of the reasons why we are bringing the GP back here again in 2022.
“I still regard sidecarcross as the worlds best kept secret and I thing if we get the attention it deserves people will understand why.”
“2022 will only be the start as far as we are concerned. If it is successful we plan to run a Northern Ireland Grand Prix every other year in Northern Ireland.”