North West 200: Robert Dunlop applauds new format for 2008

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Robert Dunlop has applauded a new race structure for next year’s International North-West 200 which will include a separate 250 cc race.

Dunlop with 15 wins is the most successful rider in the history of the North West which will have an eight-race format on May 17, 2008.

North West 200 clerk of the course Mervyn Whyte, said: “For next year we have a revamped race-day programme featuring a completely separate 250cc event which will kick off the new eight-race timetable.

“The 125/400 cc races will run concurrently but will be treated as two separate races. All three races will have individual prize funds and the first, second and third place prize winners will be announced for each race.

“Over the past few years the 250 and 125/400 cc races were all run together under the one banner which only allowed a competitor to compete in one of the three classes.

“This wasn’t the ideal format, in fact it was unsatisfactory for both sponsors and competitors. This shake-up will allow a competitor to take part in two of the three races.

“This year we had 38 entries for the 250 class and I would expect it to be something similar next May.”

Robert Dunlop (47) reckons the changes are a credit to the organising Coleraine club.

Dunlop said: “This is excellent news for everybody; riders, sponsors and spectators. I would suspect that the quality of the entry will also be given a boost.”

Back in 1993 Dunlop was a double 250 winner and given last week’s announcement he’s now considering a 250 ride for next year.

“I’m certainly thinking about it,” he admitted.

“But for sure my two boys William and Michael will want to take part.

“It’s my intention to have another crack at the 125 race and hopefully it will be with John Kennedy Equipment sales behind me on an Aprilia.”

Mervyn Whyte also confirmed both Superbike races will continue to operate under the FIM World Superbike specification as has been the case in recent years.

Whyte said: “The British Superbike rules for 2008 will require standard engine parts but it was decided that the North West will not follow suit as this would be contrary to the views of teams and competitors.”

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Gary Pinchin

By Gary Pinchin