Dunlop has denied that they are set to withdraw from MotoGP at the end of the year, and instead confirmed their commitment to the premier GP class for '2004 and beyond'.

The rumour arouse at the Rio Grand Prix due to speculation regarding Dunlop's future with Kawasaki - one of only two teams using the British brand this season.

Team manager Harald Eckl stated that they are still considering which rubber they'll be on in 2004, and hinted at an interest in rival manufacturer Bridgestone - which took its first MotoGP podium in the hands of Pramac Honda's Makoto Tamada at the Brazilian event.

"Dunlop have never considered withdrawing from MotoGP, and will be continuing their development and involvement in MotoGP in 2004 and beyond," Dunlop motorcycle racing product manager Phil Plater told "We are still finalising our plans and in negotiation with potential teams."

However, should team green switch brands, it would be a major blow to Dunlop, unless they can find an alternate factory team(s) to support alongside Peter Clifford's privateer outfit.

"(Regarding) the tyre situation next season, as far as I am aware, no decision has yet been made," said Kawasaki spokesman Ian Wheeler.

Michelin currently dominate the MotoGP class, with all but Proton Team KR (Bridgestone), Pramac Honda, Harris WCM and Kawasaki using the French brand - which has won the last 82 premier-class GPs in-a-row.

But, in the words of Kenny Roberts Sr., you don't get an advantage by running the same equipment as everyone else, and team's lower down the grid are often eager to sign-up with a different tyre supplier in order to get rubber especially designed for them - and (hopefully) accelerate their progress.



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