ULSTER Grand Prix winner Dean Harrison expressed his disappointment after the ‘world’s fastest road race’ was cancelled in its centenary year.

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, anticipation for the Dundrod meeting was at an all time high 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.

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.

Bradford speedster Harrison spoke to the T&A following the decision to cancel this year's event, and said: "I know it sounds silly but because of the last two years we've had with the pandemic, I don't think people will take it as much of a blow because they'll be happy to get back doing something, whether it's the riders or the spectators.

"But for me it's a big miss. I love it there. The course is extremely fast and it flows well, and the course has kept its originality throughout time, whereas other courses have chopped on changed with the layouts.

"When the calender is set out at the beginning of the year it's a course that gets the riders excited, and it gives us something to look forward to. It's one of the best road race tracks in the world."

Harrison added: "But it's quite sad really because without money nothing goes around. Unfortunately we haven't been able to get funding from a number of sources, and other sports do have the same issue as well, it's not just us.

"Other than football, sports will struggle, and struggle with the funding of big events like the Ulster Grand Prix."

Although affected by the coronavirus pandemic in 2020 and 2021, this year will be the third year without the famous Ulster Grand Prix and with the lack of funding for the event- Harrison hopes one of his favourite courses can continue to shine.

He said: "It's very sad to see the event cancelled as well because they've spent so much money around the venue recently, including new buildings and a control tower, so the money has been put into it to ensure the event can go ahead.

"I hope they can make use of it in the future. If it was to close down in the future, it would be a big loss to everyone, not just the riders. When the event is going on, in that area there is a lot going on. There are thousands of people who turn up over the course of the four days and it brings a great deal of tourism to the area. It would be a huge loss for everyone."