The North West 200 was hit by controversy for the second year in succession on Thursday evening when the FHO Racing BMW Motorrad team withdrew from the meeting, effectively sidelining Peter Hickman and Josh Brookes.
The team swiftly released a statement emphasising its lack of confidence in the application of the Superstock technical regulations for the event.
It read as follows: ‘The Superstock class technical regulations mandate the machines must fully comply with conditions regarding the wheels, where Superstock machines must remain with the originally homologated wheels from the manufacturer, which from BMW are carbon.
‘It then goes on to prohibit carbon material, however aftermarket wheels are also not allowed and no mandated alternative specification is prescribed.
‘The FHO Racing BMW M 1000 RR machines passed scrutineering on Tuesday and were allowed to take part in all qualifying sessions before being informed they were not allowed to race moments before the Superstock race this evening.
‘Having taken this issue out with the North West 200 organisers, there is no confidence that the FHO Racing riders could take part in a race with the obvious dangers, and risks that road racing presents and then the performance protested or disqualified on a technicality that is not adequately explained.’
The team added that it had checked the 2023 technical regulations against those of 2022 and the regulations remain the same, where the team raced the carbon homologated wheels in both Superstock races, as well as the event in 2019.
It concluded by saying the effort, commitment and logistics required to compete in the North West 200 are significant and this lack of confidence in the organisation renders the team’s participation in this year’s event impossible.
Apologising to all its sponsors and fans, the team said is is now looking forward to getting back out on the roads in a few weeks time at the TT.
TT Business Development Manager Paul Phillips confirmed that the regulations for the TT differ from those at the North West 200 and this would not negate the likes of the FHU Racing team.
North West 200 organisers (Coleraine and District Motor Club) later released a statement in reaction to FHO Racing’s withdrawal from the remainder of the meeting.
The succinct statement, read as follows: ‘The technical regulations of the Motorcycle Union of Ireland (Ulster Centre), under which the fonaCAB and Nicholl Oils North West 200 is run, state that carbon wheels are not permitted for use at any MCUI road race event.
‘Those regulations, which are implemented by the MCUI stewards of the meeting, were approved by the sport’s governing body in January 2023 and published on the North West 200’s website at that stage.
‘The FHO Racing BMW team was informed by the MCUI stewards after qualifying on Thursday afternoon that their riders, Peter Hickman and Josh Brookes, would be excluded from the Briggs Equipment Superstock race as their machines were fitted with carbon wheels.
‘The NW200 organisers were informed of the steward’s decision, which is final and binding upon the event, at 21.30pm on Thursday night during the final steward’s meeting.
‘No such action had been discussed with the NW200 organisers prior to this time despite the machines having been scrutineered on both Tuesday and Thursday morning.
‘We deeply regret the FHO Racing BMW team’s decision to withdraw from the event as a result of this action, a sentiment we know will be shared by all NW200 race fans.’
- Dunlop Tyres withdrew its rear slick tyres from use at the North West 200 last year on safety grounds after Hickman and other top riders including Michael Dunlop suffered tyre delaminations on the high-speed road course