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NW200: Michael Dunlop 'not worrying about anyone'
18 May 2012
Michael Dunlop hasn't lost any sleep worrying about the opposition as he sets out in pursuit of victory in the premier class at the Relentless International North West 200.
Dunlop has not enjoyed the pre-season preparation he would have liked, with late confirmation of his plans for 2012 severely restricting his time on his stable of new machines prior to the road racing showpiece on the North Coast.
However, he was up and running at the Tandragee 100 National meeting in Northern Ireland, picking up wins in the feature Superbike race and the 600cc event to arrive in Portstewart in a positive frame of mind.
Much of the talk has been centred on Carrick's Alastair Seeley, who is being hyped up as the rider to beat in every class.
But Dunlop says the Tyco Suzuki British Superbike ace is the least of his worries.
“I'm not worried about [Alastair] Seeley – he's the least of my problems. Everybody says he's top dollar around the North West but he's not really – Steve Plater was the man here and I'd love to see Steve back again,” said Dunlop.
“There are more riders out there other than Seeley and come race day I'll just worry about myself.”
The 23-year-old's number one target this year is to add to his two victories at the Isle of Man TT next month, but that won't prevent Dunlop from giving his all as he takes on the overseas challengers on his home patch at the North West 200.
And nothing would give him greater pleasure than following in his dad Robert's footsteps by showing a clean pair of heels to the British championship big guns.
“When you look at it over the past few years at the North West a lot of the winners are the riders from the British championships.
“I'll take my hat off to Steve Plater because he was the man. If Steve was still racing at the North West he'd still be the man,” said Dunlop.
“Steve went to the North West and won but he won at the TT as well, so you have to say fair play to him.
“I'd love to see him come back because he's a really talented rider at the North West and he's fast.
“It'd be nice to get a Superbike win at the North West and beat all the British championship boys who are obviously all running high-end specification engines, so hopefully we can do it.
“I think we have a turn of speed with the Honda and enough in the tank to do it, so it's looking good,” he said.
“Obviously it would great to win here and it would set us up nicely for the TT because everything runs on towards the TT from here.”
Dunlop's dad Robert remains the most successful rider ever at the NW200 with 15 wins, but Michael feels the road racing legend – tragically killed at the event in 2008 – would have reached in excess of 20 victories on the 'Triangle' circuit had his career not be so adversely affected by his infamous crash on the exit of Ballaugh village at the TT in 1994.
“My dad was so good around here because he was fast and smooth and obviously I think if he'd had a few more years riding Superbikes then his tally would have been through the roof had it not been for his crash at the TT,” he said.
“At the time he was winning three races at the North West every year, so if he'd even managed that for another two years after '94 he would have easily been over 20 wins.
“He managed it at a time when Superbike riders were Superbike riders as well, when the bikes were all over the place and not the best handling things out there.
“I've a long way to go to get anywhere need that record of my dad's so I'd need to get my finger out,” he said.
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