Belfast Telegraph

Friday 1 August 2014

Dunlop makes a deal in brakes controversy

A COMPROMISE has been reached in the saga of Robert Dunlop and his

Irish events for the remainder of the season.

Irish events for the remainder of the season.

Dunlop was set to appeal to the Motor Cycle Union of Ireland in Dundalk last night against a decision by the Management Committee of the Ulster Centre who banned his machine on safety grounds.

However, before the appeal could get underway lawyers on both sides reached an agreement whereby, if Dunlop placed an traditional brake on his machine, in addition to the 'thumb brake' which has been causing all the problems, then his bike will be accepted. Dunlop has agreed to do this and should now be free to ride in the Temple 100 at the end of the month.

However, he has not yet been accepted for the Ulster Grand Prix on August 3. I understand that Dunlop and his lawyers will meet the promoters of the Ulster Race either tonight or later this week to clarify the situation.

Dunlop has been fighting a battle against motorcycling's top brass ever since he had his bike custom-built following the major injuries he received in a crash at the Isle of Man TT in June 1994.

The major problem as far as Dunlop was concerned was that his right wrist was still weak so experts at Queen's University designed a system whereby the brake on the bike was put on the same side as the clutch. According to Dunlop this is not a revolutionary tactic and has been used elsewhere in the world.

The bike was given the all-clear at the beginning of the season and Dunlop rode into ninth place at the opening meeting, the Cookstown 100 in April. He then followed up by finishing eighth in the Tandragee 100 in May.

However, not long before Tandragee he received a call from Billy Nutt, clerk of the course at the North West 200. Nutt told Dunlop that he was unhappy at him racing at the North West and refused his entry on safety grounds.

It was after this decision that Dunlop suddenly found himself with an uphill battle to stay in the sport. His Honda came under closer scrutiny from the Ulster Centre Technical Committee who recommended that it be turned down on safety grounds.

Officials argue that in a panic situation Dunlop would not be in control of the machine.

They contend that he would automatically go to the right-hand side of his brake which woudn't be there. They feel that no rider would have enough presence of mind to go for the brake and the clutch at the same time with one hand _ the left hand.

Dunlop, however, disagrees: 'This technique has been designed by experts and I'm fully conversant with it,' he said. 'I am certain that in any panic situation I will be in control, although I admit it is most unusual to have the clutch and the brake in the same area.''However, I have got used to it and my results have proved that I have no problems'.

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