Michael Dunlop to race Norton at North West 200

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The North West 200 organisers are on the verge of granting special dispensation to allow Michael Dunlop to race the rotary-engine Norton at this year’s 80th Anniversary meeting on May 16.

Dunlop is to ride the bike in the Senior TT, which is essentially an open formula and allows 500GP bikes as well as superbikes, but the current North West 200 rules are limited to superbike-spec machinery.

Robert Dunlop, Michael’s late father, won three North West 200 superbike races on the JPS Norton (two in 1990 and one in 1991) and Michael is so keen to follow in his footsteps by racing the Norton on the North West 200 course that he’s sought permission from the organisers to grant the rotary-engine bike special dispensation to compete alongside the superbikes.

“It’s a romantic thing,” said Dunlop. “I had the offer of racing other superbikes but it was impossible to turn the chance of racing a Norton down. Initially it was for me to race at the TT but I want to do the North West on it too and hopefully they’ll find a way to let us do that.”

NW200 Clerk of the Course Mervyn Whyte said the process to allow the Norton to race is only one step away from getting the go-ahead.

He said: “I’m keen for the Norton to race at the North West 200. We have an agreement from the Ulster Centre to allow it. Now the application goes to the Inter Centre Conference in Dublin next week and hopefully they’ll rubber stamp it.

Michael Dunlop chalked up an emotional first North West 200 victory in last year’s 250 race, only days after his father Robert lost his life following a crash during practice for the event.

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Gary Pinchin

By Gary Pinchin