Belfast Telegraph

North West 200: William Dunlop is confident after his bike is revamped

By Paul Lindsay

William Dunlop has never been a rider to 'blow his own trumpet', preferring to let his on track performances reflect his preparation and ability.

But with a successful opening qualifying sessions on the north coast on Tuesday, and more expected from the factory supported Milwaukee Yamaha pilot in today's early sessions, the 27-year-old Ballymoney man, is more than capable of adding to his Vauxhall International North West 200 win tally in this evening's Supersport encounter.

"I really only got to ride the Milwaukee Yamaha R6 in Tuesday's session for the very first time," William explained.

"Cookstown just didn't work out for us as you know, but with Marcus and Phil now here looking after the bike, I feel very confident that we can improve in second qualifying and be up there in the Supersport race on Thursday night.

"It was just a matter of getting a few safe miles in on the bike and qualifying it, but we will be looking to advance that in Thursday's session."

Marcus and Phil, whom he refers to, are Eugene Laverty's factory Aprilia World Superbike crew chief Marcus Eschenbacher and Moneyglass man Phil Marron.

Both men slipped virtually un-noticed into the North West paddock on Monday morning after a successful double podium weekend with Eugene and Aprilia Racing in Italy at Monza.

Eschenbacher guided both Cal Crutchlow and Chaz Davies to World Supersport titles on very similar Yamaha R6 machinery to the Milwaukee liveried 600, and Marron, as well as being Laverty's brother in-law, has looked after the World Superbike contender, spinning the spanners on his machinery for a number of years.

Add to that the experience within the Milwaukee Yamaha squad, with Shaun Muir at the helm and British Superbike winning crew chief Pete Jennings looking after William on the R1 Superbike and Superstock machines, then this weekend's North West 200 could well see a new premier class winner.

"I absolutely love that Superbike. It's awesome," was William's reply when quizzed about his new factory machine that he couldn't keep his eyes off following Tuesday's session.

Recounting the high-speed experience, which saw him run alongside, and compliment, British Superbike star Josh Brookes, he added: "I know I can be competitive on the Milwaukee Superbike.

"I really like the chassis and it is ridiculously fast. So much so I haven't even held it flat yet and we finished top five on Tuesday.

"We need some more dry track time and I don't mind the length of the sessions here, so it's all good so far."

On Brookes coming onto his home turf, he was respectful.

"Yeah it's good to see Josh Brookes here and I can tell he's here for the right reasons, to win races and not just for the money.

"He will fit in well in the international road racing paddock, and while others might not like to see him coming, I think it's good for the sport."

William was guarded and not committal about the Superstock class, which without putting him into a legal wrangle, understands that some of the machinery is maybe fettled a little beyond the spirit of the class. But regardless, it's another run out and he's well capable of a top six.

With the preparations all but complete, things moved from riding to driving yesterday afternoon.

William and his sibling rival, Michael, no strangers to locking horns at high speed, enjoyed a slightly slower slice of sporting life when treated to a golf lesson with a man who is no stranger to the North West – Darren Clarke (pictured).

The former Open winner passed on a few tips to the pair and they will hope his success rubs off on them when the action gets underway for real.

Belfast Telegraph


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