Roads: FHO Racing BMW and North West 200 organisers release statements over Superstock disqualification

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FHO Racing BMW and the North West 200 organisers have both released respective statements over the ongoing dispute regarding the team’s carbon wheels.

Josh Brookes and Peter Hickman were disqualified from Thursday evening’s Superstock race moments before the race was due to begin. This came despite their M1000 RRs successfully passing through the event’s scrutineering process on Tuesday. Both riders also completed the practice and qualifying sessions.

NW200 regulations state that Superstock bikes must have the original homologated wheels from the manufacturer. However, the BMW M1000 RR’s standard wheels are made from carbon.

The team were stuck as a result, because if they removed the carbon wheels, that is also against the regulations as no aftermarket wheels are permitted.

As a result of the disqualification, FHO Racing BMW decided to withdraw from the entire event, meaning that Brookes and Hickman will miss the Superbike races.

In a statement released on Thursday evening, the team explained that they were leaving the event due to having “no confidence in the application of the Superstock technical regulations.”

“Having taken this issue out with the fonaCAB and Nicholl Oils 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 prevents and then the performance protested or disqualified on a technicality that is not adequately explained,” the statement continued.

“The FHO Racing team have 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.

“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.

“The FHO Racing team would like to sincerely apologise to all its sponsors and fans, and the team are now looking forward to getting back out on the roads in a few weeks’ time at the Isle of Man TT Races.”

Josh Brookes (FHO BMW Racing) in the opening Superstock practice for the fonacab Nicholl Oils NW200. Photo Rod Neill

NW200 organisers responded with their own statement which outlined that these regulations where implemented by the Motorcycle Union of Ireland (Ulster Centre) Stewards of the Meeting and approved by the sport’s governing body in January, before being published on the NW200 website.

“The FHO Racing BMW team were informed by the MCUI’s 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 statement said.

“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 tonight as a result of this action, a sentiment we know will be shared by all NW200 race fans.”

The Superstock race was won by Alastair Seeley, also riding a BMW, whilst the Supersport race was won by Davey Todd. Seeley now has 28 NW200 victories, whilst it’s Todd’s second career victory at the event.