For the second year in a row, the Lions TT Motorcycle Festival in northern NSW (September 18-20) has hit a last-minute hitch with the cancellations of events.
The side-by-side drag event at Casino proposed for Saturday, September 19, 2015, has been cancelled. This follows the 11th-hour cancellation of the Queensland section of the Lions Rd ride last year.
The Casino Sprints was one of several events in the Lions TT Festival which will still go ahead this weekend in Kyogle and surrounding regions.
The Lions TT organising committee has issued a statement apologising to supporters for the last-minute cancellation, citing several reasons, although it appears they have simply been tardy in their official request for airport access.
“Due to Government Legislative requirements, constraints, and costs, it is not possible for our – Not for Profit – Lions TT organisation to facilitate the Casino event,” the Lions TT committee statement says.
“Last year’s Lions TT Festival generated a measured $200,000+ for Kyogle and surrounding regions which enabled our LTT to make a generous donation to the Kyogle Council for the maintenance of the Historic Lions Road.
“These Government constraints have also impacted on the approval for the Lions Road Closure Event as held last year.
“It is our endeavour to return the Lions TT Festival each year for its thousands of growing supporters and continue to generate the much-needed funds for local communities.”
Last year, Queensland and NSW police refused permission for the closure of the Lions Rd for untimed solo rides, believing riders would speed and be a danger to nearby campers. In fact, the Lions Rd event was closed early on the Sunday after one of several crashes on the road.
Queensland Police say they did not receive a request from the organisers to close the road.
In the end, Kyogle Council stepped in and closed the NSW side of the road, leaving the event shortened. After the event, police on both sides of the border said they would refuse permission in 2015, so the organisers decided to drop the Lions Rd section from their festival this year. They remain hopeful of returning the event in the future.
To provide riders with some form of competition, the untimed solo drag event at Casino from the inaugural event was transformed this year into side-by-side drags.
However, a Richmond Valley Council spokeswoman says the organisers failed to submit the required documentation for use of the airport.
“Council had approached them on numerous occasions for the documents, but it never came,” she says. “So we had no choice but to tell them it wouldn’t go ahead as we have too many aerodrome users and, as much as we encourage events, we have strict federal rules and regulations to follow over the use of an airport.”
The organisers have failed to respond to our request for comment.
The revamped Lions TT Festival will still go ahead from tomorrow with an informal group ride from Rathdowney at 3pm over the Lions Rd and into the Kyogle showgrounds with the main street of the town closed to traffic from noon until Sunday at noon.
There will also be escorted and self-guided loop rides out of Kyogle over the weekend, including adventure rides led by four-time Dakar Rally racer Christophe Barriere-Varju.
Other events include a hillclimb competition in the nearby Border Ranges, and an array of events and attractions.
Riders will be able to camp at the Kyogle showgrounds for $20 a night where there will be entertainment and a bar.
Saturday’s festival will be centred on Kyogle and will feature live entertainment, street markets, motorcycle and ATV demo rides, motorcycle trade stalls, riding displays, entertainment and a “burnout” bar from noon at the showgrounds.
The festival continues on the Sunday from 9am to 2pm with a show and shine sponsored by Indian Motorcycle from 1pm.