Dunlop brothers pull out of Mid Antrim 150 after cash row
The heart has been knocked out of tomorrow’s Mid Antrim 150 with the news that the Dunlop brothers — William and Michael — have withdrawn from the meeting in a dispute over race entry money.
Last night Michael said: “William and myself have had enough of this. We have won races the length and breadth of Ireland and beyond and we draw spectators to their events, yet when we ask the Mid Antrim Club what they can do for us they appeared not too bothered as to whether we rode at their meeting or not.
“So we have decided to make a stand. In my case I have to bring a lorry and bikes from Dublin and it costs me about £100 in diesel alone and I would have to win a couple of races to pay my entry fee.
“It’s just not on anymore and if we have to take a stand again so be it, we both love road racing, but we are at the stage where we cannot do it to lose money, that’s the plain and simple truth.
“Most clubs do something to help us and I know every club cries poverty and for the need to cut costs, but why put the costs on riders? We cannot cut costs and still be competitive. At the end of the day we are the entertainers putting on the show.”
Jack Agnew, on behalf of the organising Mid Antrim Club, responded: “We received a phone call with a query about entry fees for Michael and William.
“This year the club agreed that every rider pay an entry fee. Last year we assisted riders to the tune of £3,000, but this year due to financial constraints that is sim
ply not feasible, in fact the day the race programme went to the printers we actually lost a sponsor.
“What we had agreed was that any rider who was invited to our press launch and attended would receive one free entry and this would have applied to William and Michael.
“In fact we have a £200 maximum limit on entry fees for the Mid Antrim, so for the Dunlops the maximum they would have paid was £140 each for five races each. It is up to them whether they race at the Mid Antrim or not and it will be disappointing if they don’t race, but we as a club cannot run the meeting to lose money or give out free entries to some and not others.”
In another twist it seems as if Ryan Farquhar, the Mid Antrim lap record holder and rider with the most wins at the event, was also in two minds as to whether he will be racing at tomorrow’s event.
“I’m not happy with the situation at the Mid Antrim and I can see where William and Michael are coming from,” he said.
“I believe that the top half dozen riders who do this for a living should get free entries. I own all my own bikes and prepare them myself and if I won all the races I’m entered tomorrow, took out my expenses, I would not have much left.
“I do get free entries at some meetings, but I would argue that all riders should have free entries rather than have to pay to entertain the thousands watching.”
Farquhar went even further saying he will be limiting his racing activities next year.
“I will definitely race next year, but on a much reduced scale, picking and choosing which events I do,” he revealed. “Clubs that have looked after me over the years will certainly influence what meetings I do in 2011.”
Certainly the shine has been taken off the Mid Antrim 150, where practice gets underway this afternoon with roads closing at 4pm, while tomorrow the roads close at 10am for a nine-race programme where Farquhar will be the man to beat in the feature classes following the withdrawal of the Dunlops.