On May 14, the 2022 North West 200 was well underway when tire manufacturer Dunlop discovered that a batch of tires in use by some of the top names in the field was apparently bad. A dramatic video of Michael Dunlop’s rear tire exploding has been making the rounds on social media, which you can see here. Luckily, thanks to his well-honed skills, he was able to keep control of the bike and prevent that disaster from becoming a complete catastrophe.
A batch of Dunlop Superbike rear slicks was eventually identified as the culprit—and several of the top runners in addition to Michael Dunlop were running the affected batch. Peter Hickman, who had previously set a new lap record of 124.799 mph aboard his FHO Racing BMW, was among the riders forced to withdraw from the second Superbike race after Dunlop informed organizers of the problem and announced that it was withdrawing affected riders effective immediately. Other affected riders included Conor Cummins, Dean Harrison, Brian McCormack, Michael Rutter, Davey Todd, and Sam West.
The 2022 North West 200 took place just two weeks prior to the 2022 Isle of Man TT, with many regarding it as an important and helpful warm-up to the world’s most famous motorcycle road race. Finding a serious problem with a batch of tires at any race can shake a rider’s confidence, especially when the stakes are so high. However, Dunlop was quick to reassure riders and press that it has identified and addressed the problem, and that it only appears to be a single batch of tires affected. Dunlop Motorsport UK event manager Pat Walsh told the Belfast News Letter that he’s 100 percent certain that riders who planned to use Dunlop tires at the TT will continue to do so with confidence.
Walsh enumerated that plenty of Dunlop-shod riders went out in the Supersport class on Thursday with no issues to speak of, resulting in both podiums and lap records. Additionally, the first four finishers in Saturday’s Supersport race were all on Dunlop tires, again with no issues. In fact, other tire compounds similarly appeared to have no problems; the issue in question seemed to be isolated to a single batch of Superbike rear slicks that multiple riders were using.
“I’ve spoken to the team managers and riders individually and they have no issue going forward to the TT because they have complete trust in Dunlop because of what we have done in recent years,” Walsh told the Belfast News Letter.
“We have every lap record in every class at the TT and our record speaks for itself. It was just so unfortunate at a high-profile meeting like the North West 200. Brian McCormack’s tire was gone after only one lap, which is just 8.9-miles, so that’s why I couldn’t let the riders continue.”