The historic event was set to take place from August 16-20 after failing to run in 2020 and 2021 due to a combination of financial problems and the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.
However, hopes were high that the dark clouds hanging over the Dundrod meeting would dissipate after the event was taken over by the Revival Racing Club, led by directors Mervyn Whyte – the ex-NW200 Event Director – and former road racing star Phillip McCallen.
A funding package of £800,000 was sought to resurrect the Ulster GP and help safeguard the future of the North West 200.
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However, after tireless efforts and countless hours of work behind the scenes, the funding – which was signed off by the Department of Finance and Department for the Economy – was not approved by Tourism NI.
In a statement issued to the News Letter on Sunday night, the public body said it could not support the level of funding – the biggest investment ever in Irish motorcycling – on ‘financial and legal grounds’. Tourism NI also stated that the amount requested was more than six times greater than the funding provided to the NW200 and Ulster GP in 2019.
It was claimed that the body had instead offered to provide £150,000 towards the running of the two biggest motorcycle road races in Northern Ireland.
As a result of the setback, the Ulster GP has now been cancelled for a third consecutive year, and the very existence of this legendary race meeting – a former round of the Grand Prix World Championship – now hangs in the balance.
Proclaimed by many of the sport’s top names as their favourite race meeting outside of the Isle of Man TT, news of the cancellation on Monday left riders and fans alike bitterly disappointed.
Yorkshireman Dean Harrison, a double winner at the UGP following Superbike and Superstock wins in 2017 and 2018 respectively, said it was a ‘shame’ to see the demise of the famous race in County Antrim.
“It’s a massive blow to the sport to be honest but I don’t know what to say really,” said Harrison, who is also the Superstock lap record holder.
“It’s a bit sh*t isn’t it and I don’t know what else can be done. The problem sometimes today is that there’s politics involved and I don’t know the whole story here or what the problem actually is, but it’s obviously a shame.
“As a rider Dundrod is a brilliant track and it’s a great place to be when the sun is shining, just like the North West 200.
“I’m not sure what it will take,” added the 33-year-old, who will ride for the new-look DAO Racing team – formerly Silicone Engineering Racing – this season on the roads on Kawasaki machinery, in addition to competing in the British Superbike Championship.
Magherafelt’s Paul Jordan was left equally disheartened by the news. The 30-year-old clinched his maiden international victory at the Ulster Grand Prix in the Supertwin class in 2019 and was looking forward to racing at Dundrod once again this summer.
“You would think this was the best time to give some money to road racing because the sport has been on its knees over the past two years because of Covid,” he said.
“Dundrod is something else and it is a special place, especially for me because that’s where I got my first big road racing win.
“I’d love to have gone back to try and do something on the bigger bikes this year but now that chance has been taken away.
“It doesn’t really add up and they weren’t asking for a colossal amount of money in the big scheme of things to run both events,” he added.
“The North West itself pulls in millions for the economy so it’s a real shame this has happened.”
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