Roads: Tyre issues hold Dunlop back at North West 200

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Michael Dunlop believes he could have been closer to runaway victor Glenn Irwin had he not suffered tyre wear issues during Saturday’s two North West 200 races.

Dunlop’s Dunlop rear tyre looked absolutely destroyed after he narrowly managed to hold on to second place in Saturday’s feature race. The Ulsterman had enjoyed a four second lead over Lee Johnston in fourth until the tyre issues saw the Honda Racing star less than a second behind him at the time of the chequered flag.

The issues were so severe in the first race that Dunlop retired to the pits on his Tyco BMW. He wasn’t alone in suffering issues with Peter Hickman, Conor Cummins and Lee Johnston all suffering with wear issues on Dunlop rubber. Metzeler-shod machines won all of Saturday’s races with Dunlop’s only triumph at the event coming at the hands of Peter Hickman in Thursday’s Superstock race.

“I hold my hand up, I think I could have been a lot closer to contest the win only for tyre problems,” Dunlop said.  “These issues forced me to run in deep a few times, which upsets the rhythm and ruins the lap and stopped me riding the Tyco BMW as hard as I know I can. My last lap was about ten seconds slower than my fastest lap, so I think that explains it without having to go into too much detail.

“In saying that, for all the time we’ve been on the bike, I have to say I’m happy with the package and working with the TAS boys. Time was against us, but we knew that coming here. The TT is up next and if anything it’s given us valuable information for going there. Second place is not a win, but we will hopefully correct that pretty soon.”

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Oli Rushby

By Oli Rushby

Former sports reporter covering British Superbikes, World Superbikes and road racing