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Everything you need to know about the North West 200 course from start to finish, literally. Take in the North West 200 experience right now…
The start and finish is a hive of activity and excitement particularly in the moments building up to the start of the race. Viewing is provided by a number of grandstands whilst a hospitality ticket can be purchased which will enable you to watch the racing from the corporate balcony.
The paddock, of course, is home to all the riders, machines and trucks and you can wander round at your leisure and meet the stars.
Check out the onboard footage with Michael Dunlop…
York Corner is a tight, left hand hairpin and an all-action overtaking point particularly on the first lap when riders are jostling for position.
A large grandstand is situated within the confines of the adjacent golf course and offers superb views of the riders cresting Primrose Hill and then being hard on the brakes before tackling the hairpin and accelerating away towards Mill Road Roundabout.
There’s also a big screen to offer complete viewing whilst other spectating opportunities come from the gardens of friendly locals.
This used to be a fearsome 140mph+ right hander but is now a slow roundabout tackled anti-clockwise and at speeds as low as 30-40mph. Once negotiated, the riders accelerate up through the gears as they approach Station Corner.
Possibly the fastest corner of the course and crucial for the riders to get right as it leads into the 200mph+ run down to University Corner. Vantage points are limited and only on the inside of the course but if you get there early enough, you’ll get to witness one of the finest sights in road racing.
Situated between Station Corner and University, you can view from the inside of the course and watch the riders negotiate a flat-out crest as they fight to keep the front end down before moving into top gear moments later.
Check out the 2010 Superbike race in action at Black Bridge…
Excellent views can be found here from either the inside or outside of the course and offer a great place to watch as riders arrive from the fastest part of the circuit and then hit the brakes for the 90 degree left hander.
Once through University, the riders make the short climb up and towards the Ballysally Roundabout, also known as the Magic Roundabout. This is a great viewing point with plenty of standing areas on both the inside and outside of the course, the latter providing a great location for those who want to make a quick exit.
This section is easily accessed from the ring road area on the main route to the circuit with ample parking opportunities and also benefits from full commentary, hot food and toilet facilities.
Historically, this rivalled Station as the most fearsome corner on the course, perhaps even more so as it really sorted the men out from the boys. Since 2010 though, a chicane has been added to significantly reduce the speeds and the tight layout now has its fair share of low speed spills as more and more riders overcook it on the brakes.
Viewing opportunities are fairly limited with access available from Gateside Road and Islandtasserty Road (both on the inside of the circuit) after the roads have closed.
Introduced in 1996 as a slowing down and safety device on the run into Metropole, it has subsequently become popular with spectators as it offers another opportunity for riders to be late on the brakes and make another overtaking attempt.
One of the iconic images of the 1970s was the railway embankment at the Metropole crowded with people and although that’s not quite the same now, a new grandstand offers great views of the tight left hand corner as well as the approach to the following Church Corner.
There’s also the added benefit of a 30 metre big screen so fans don’t miss any of the action.
Wet conditions in 2014 made the Metropole Corner a tricky one, watch this clip…
A tight right hand bend that uses only half the normal road width, the viewing on the left hand side is excellent although it’s quite limited so you’ll need to get there early to book your spot.
A favourite with fans, this right-left combination underneath the railway bridge has limited access and vantage points but it’s well worth the effort to get there early and grab your spot.
The best views here are from the outside of the bend looking down on the riders as they flash into view from Dhu Varren and up towards Black Hill. The bend looks deceptively
slow but it’s anything but as the superbikes sweep through the left-right flick over the crest of the hill whilst fighting to change direction. A spectacular location with the cliffs and Atlantic Ocean as the main backdrop.
For those who like to move to a variety of viewing points this is ideal as you can easily walk between a variety of different vantage points. Juniper Hill has superb viewing all the way along the coast road from Black Hill to Juniper Hill.
Now you know the NW200 course back to front, left to right and inside out, why not check out the best places to eat and drink around the course?
What are your thoughts on the NW200 circuit? Vote now…
Words by Phil Wain.