NW200: Michael Dunlop left frustrated after rear tyre issue in Superbike finale
Michael Dunlop was left to rue a rear tyre issue on his Tyco BMW as his pursuit of North West 200 Superbike winner Glenn Irwin faltered.
Dunlop, a retirement from the opening Superbike race on Saturday, was Irwin’s nearest challenger in the feature race as he broke away from the battle for third place on the S1000RR.
Irwin had opened a lead of more than three seconds on the first lap and increased his advantage to almost five seconds over Dunlop as the race unfolded, with the front two a long way ahead of Lee Johnston on the Honda Racing Fireblade in third.
Dunlop managed to reduce the deficit to 4.1 seconds as he tried in vain to reel in the runaway Ducati rider.
On the seventh and final lap, the Ballymoney man’s pace dropped off dramatically and he almost fell into the clutches of Johnston as Irwin sealed victory by nearly ten seconds.
A disappointed Dunlop said: “I hold my hand up, I think I could have been a lot closer to contest the win only for tyre problems. 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,” he added.
“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.”
Team manager Philip Neill said Dunlop’s performance had given the Northern Ireland outfit plenty of encouragement heading to the TT.
“To come here with the amount of testing and set-up time that we had, I have to be honest and say it’s a great result and the end product is very encouraging.
“It has taken some time to get Michael comfortable on the bike, but we knew that would be the case as Michael’s style is a lot different to what we have been used to in the past.
“After a few niggly problems to start with, we have now found a set-up that he’s comfortable with, it’s just disappointing that other problems outside both our control hampered his chances of challenging for the win. Taking those circumstances into account, for me, the result was superb.”