Dunlop 'will have a push' at ending NW200 win drought

Michael Dunlop says he is pushing to end his North West 200 win drought at the 2024 event.

Despite extending his number of victories at the Isle of Man TT to 25, Dunlop last won at the Northern Ireland road race in 2016.

The 35-year-old, who is nursing a wrist injury after a crash at the Cookstown 100, has brought three new motorcycles to the road race.

“I would like to have a win here and come Thursday and Saturday we’ll have a push,” Dunlop told BBC Sport NI.

“It’s a bit sad as I would like to win here. It’s been eluding me for a while.

“I want to be competitive here. Last year we gave a good account of ourselves The results didn’t justify the way we were, in my opinion. I just felt there was more there but it just didn’t work for us.”

In the opening practice qualifying sessions at the North West 200 on Wednesday, Dunlop was third on his Hawk Racing Honda behind Glenn Irwin and Davey Todd.

The Ballymoney rider followed that up with two more third places in the Supersport and Superstock classes to cap a solid start to his 2024 event.

The final set of practice sessions take place on Thursday morning before the racing starts later that evening.

Dunlop admits there were “late nights” for his team to prepare his machines for the North West 200, in which he will run a Honda Superstock and a Triumph in the Supersport under his MD Racing banner.

“It’s been a bit of a nightmare but the bikes look good and the boys have worked hard all week,” Dunlop added.

“Thanks to the lads, they have all worked hard. It’s a bit painful for them, but the boys don’t say no. They probably want to, but they just don’t.

“We’ve done a good job. The boys I have working for me are all mates. They are all good lads and they are doing the best that they can.”

He also said his injury “doesn’t feel any different” compared to other years ahead of racing around the 8.9-mile Triangle Circuit, which takes place on closed public roads between the towns on Portstewart, Coleraine and Portrush.

Wednesday pace 'hot and heavy'

With many of the leading riders regulars in the British Superbike Championship or support series, Dunlop, who focuses on road racing, says he can compete with the top racers.

“I’ve proven I can be competitive with all the BSB boys,” said Dunlop, who added the pace was “hot and heavy”.

“There’s no reason why I can’t be and nothing is stopping us from continuing to do so.

“The boys are riding BSB every weekend. We know with the likes of Glenn [Irwin] coming here that short-circuit style is what the North West is all about. People like Glenn are the proof of that, who are running at the front then they come here straight away and turn it on.

“Davey [Todd], Pete [Peter Hickman] – they are all short circuit men. When they come to the North West they make it hard work because they are primed up and ready to go.

“The same competitors go there [Isle of Man TT] and it’s getting faster every year. That’s just the way it is.”

After the conclusion of the North West 200, Dunlop and his team will head to the Isle of Man TT with a chance of equalling or breaking the record number of victories at the famous road race.

Joey Dunlop holds the record with 26 wins and Michael’s impressive four victories in the 2023 moved him to within one of his late uncle.

“Here [the North West 200] is going to give us a big indication of where we are,” Dunlop added.

“With new bikes, we don’t know a lot about them but it’s good to see where we are.

“It’s important to show where we are, speed-wise at least, then after that it sets us on the [front] foot going to the TT.

“Obviously the TT isn’t as much straight line and braking, then you can rely on a small bit of talent to help you out in the rest of the places.”