Road racing legend Phillip McCallen saluted the depth of motorcycling talent from Northern Ireland at the launch of the Blackhorse NI Motorcycle Festival on Thursday.
Organised by businessman and promoter Billy Nutt and his son Marty, Ireland’s biggest annual motorcycle show is entering its 25th year in 2019.
Eleven-time Isle of Man TT winner McCallen was amongst the guests at the Eikon Exhibition Centre in Lisburn, where the festival will take place from February 8-10.
‘Supermac’ was joined at the launch by Carrick’s Alastair Seeley and hot young prospect Eunan McGlinchey, who won the British Junior Supersport Championship last year at his first attempt.
McCallen said: “We are so lucky that we have such talent here in Northern Ireland. Alastair Seeley and Eunan McGlinchey are focused on winning races this year – that’s their goal and that’s what they are, winners.
“We’ve got Jonathan Rea who is winning races around the world and to be a four-time World Superbike champion is just an unbelievable achievement.
“It’s so great to see that and it’s fantastic to have such talent here in Northern Ireland,” added McCallen, who runs his successful motorcycle dealership, Phillip McCallen Motorcycles, in Lisburn.
“We have so many up and coming young riders as well and motorcycle racing just oozes out of us here in Ireland.”
Two-time British champion Seeley, who will ride this season for the EHA Racing team in the Supersport class, said his aim was simple in 2019 – to claim another championship title.
“I want to start where I finished, with wins and podiums,” said Seeley, “and I want to fight for that title again.”
Seeley – who claimed four race victories from seven finishes on the EHA Racing Yamaha – will also ride for the team again at the North West 200 in the Supersport class.
Rising talent McGlinchey shone in the British Junior Supersport series, underlining his credentials as one of this country’s most exciting young riders.
The 20-year-old, who will step up to the Superstock 600 class this season with Team 109 Kawasaki, said: “I want to be winning races and challenging for the title. Hopefully we can keep our good run going with Team 109.”
All the major motorcycle dealers in Northern Ireland will be represented at the festival next month, including Charles Hurst (Yamaha, BMW Honda), Phillip McCallen Motorcycles, MotoPlus Coleraine, GS Motorcycles, Crossan Motorcycles, Davy’s Bikes and MV Agusta.
The Motorcycle Racing Association’s (MRA) Motocross Village will be part of the show once again, while the MCUI (Ulster Centre) and the Northern of Ireland Karting Association (NIKA) will also be represented.
Downtown Radio, Downtown Country and Cool FM are involved for a second year and Downtown Radio will broadcast live from the event on Friday, February 8 and Saturday 9.
Stunt riders Mattie Griffin and Andrew Perry will provide some thrilling entertainment outside the venue on Saturday and Sunday, February 9-10.
A number of top riders will also attend the event, with further details set to be announced soon.
Opening times are Friday, February 8 from 2pm-9pm; and Saturday and Sunday, February 9-10, from 10am-5pm. Admission is £12/12 euros for adults and £6 for senior citizens. Children under 16 are admitted free.