NW200: Just like the good old days as Dunlop boys shine

Michael and William Dunlop battle for the lead of the openining Superbike race at the North West 200
Michael and William Dunlop battle for the lead of the openining Superbike race at the North West 200

Twenty years after Robert Dunlop toasted his final Superbike wins at the North West 200 on the Medd Honda, his sons - William and Michael - reigned supreme in the premier class on Saturday.

The duo had fans on the edge of their seats as they went head to head around the famous seaside circuit in the opening Superbike shoot-out, with William holding on to record his maiden international ‘big bike’ success for Ulster team Tyco Suzuki.

Michael was forced to settle for the runner-up spot, but he vowed to set the record straight in the blue riband race later in the day and delivered on his pledge as he, too, tasted Superbike glory for the first time on the ‘Triangle’ course.

It was just like the old days of Dunlop domination and the Ballymoney boys were cheered on their way by thousands of excited fans.

Both are riding on the crest of a wave, confident in their new machinery and optimistic of their chances at the upcoming Isle of Man TT.

Who can forget Michael’s blistering four-timer last June as he went so close to matching Ian Hutchinson’s astonishing five-in-week feat?

William has yet to break his duck at the TT, but with the experience of TAS Racing behind him this could be the year when the 28-year-old adds a Mountain victory to his international triumphs.

Saturday’s North West 200 didn’t escape the rain, but few cared as they were treated to some incredible racing on the north coast, with Northern Ireland riders winning four of the five races.

Alastair Seeley’s brilliant Supersport and Superstock double and Lee Johnston’s Supertwin victory on Thursday meant seven of the eight races in total went to Ulster competitors.

It was a tremendous achievement that shows the pedigree of our home-grown talent and suggests Ulster bike fans will have plenty to smile about for some time to come at the North West.

Sadly, Evesham’s Simon Andrews and Frenchman Franck Petricola were seriously hurt in accidents at the North West, while Michael Pearson from Ballygowan was badly injured in a crash on Sunday in the Czech Republic. Our thoughts are with them.