Irish champion Gary Dunlop takes year out of road racing

Ballymoney’s Gary Dunlop has decided to take a year out of the sport to concentrate on running the Joey’s Bar MCC team.

By Kyle White
Tuesday, 4th February 2020, 2:04 pm
Gary Dunlop in action at the Skerries 100 in 2019.

Dunlop, who won the Moto3/125GP Irish Championship for the first time in 2019, is running Cork man Mike Browne on his Moto3 Honda this year.

He may also run a second rider on the Joey’s Bar 125cc Honda but has yet to make a final commitment after two costly engine failures at the end of last season.

Dunlop told the News Letter: “I’ve decided to just take a step back this year and focus on running the team. In 2018 I hadn’t raced but then after William’s accident, I knew if I didn’t get back out there then I’d probably never race again.

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Gary Dunlop and Paul Robinson embrace at the Killalane Road Races in 2018, which was Robinson's final race.

“So I was out racing two weeks after William’s accident and then I went on to the Ulster Grand Prix, which I had always planned to do that year. I probably rode better than I’d ever done after that and I got a win at Killalane and even went well at Sunflower, even though I’d not really been interested in the circuits for years. I set the second fastest lap that day and really lowered my lap times.

“William had told me I could win the Irish title if I focused a bit more on myself and last year I lost a bit of weight and had a really good rattle at winning it,” he added.

“Don’t get me wrong, if Derek (McGee) hadn’t been injured at the TT, then I wouldn’t have won it because he’s just on a different level to the rest of us.”

Dunlop said there was no single reason why he was taking a year out of road racing, although he hasn’t ruled out the possibility of competing at his home race at Armoy in summer.

“There are so many reasons and it’s not just one thing,” he said. “People don’t understand what we put into racing. Some riders have the luxury of having their machines prepared and can turn up in the paddock and hang out and mix with people.

“But that’s not the case for many of us and it’s certainly never been the case for me. We spend all our time working to get things ready, night and day, and with Melissa racing all the time as well it’s not easy. It’s been a way of life for so long now and people think we live to race, but that’s not the case – when the season ends I don’t want to see a bike or even think about it until the it all comes around again.

“I’m still going to run the Moto3 bike and Mike Browne will ride for us this year and we might run a second rider on the 125cc Honda, although I’m not sure on that yet because we had two engine failures last season and it nearly crippled us.

“If I take a notion and maybe drop a bit of weight, then I might ride at Armoy, but if I do I’ll not be pushing hard and I’ll just be having a ride around.”