Robert Dunlop died after modified brake accident

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Legendary Irish road racer Robert Dunlop died when he inadvertently hit the front brake of his Honda 250cc machine during an engine seizure at over 150mph while practicing for last year’s North West 200.

An inquest yesterday (Wednesday) in Coleraine heard that the braking action threw Dunlop over the handlebars of his bike before he was run over by another rider, who suffered severe injuries.

Dunlop had modified the front brake on his bike to help him cope with previous injuries he suffered during a crash at the Isle of Man TT in 1994.

The 47-year-old used a thumb operated front brake mounted on the left handlebar, just below the clutch lever.

Coroner John Leckey said: “I have concluded that what happened was caused by him inadvertently applying the brake lever using his left thumb as he was attempting to apply the clutch.

“This would have produced a powerful and instant braking effect on the front wheel and that is the explanation for him somersaulting over the handlebars.

“I am conscious of the fact that bearing in mind the speed he was travelling at he had to respond instantly.

“Therefore, the modifications to the front wheel braking system and, in particular, the location of the left thumb brake lever are likely to have been factors in the tragic sequence of events.”

The coroner recorded Dunlop died from multiple injuries.

Dunlop’s brother Joey was killed while racing in Estonia in 2000.

Matthew Birt

By Matthew Birt