MOTORCYCLE ace Michael Dunlop, ‘The King of the Road’ is to switch from two wheels to four and take part in next week’s Donegal International Rally.
Organisers have announced that Dunlop – the world’s quickest road racer – will take part in the rally.
Fresh from his record breaking 4 TT wins, becoming the first rider to win four TTs in consecutive years when he secured his first success in the blue-riband Senior TT event on the Isle of Man event last week, Dunlop confirmed he will make his rally debut behind the wheel of a 300-bhp Ford Escort, partnered by local co-driver James McNulty.
Donegal Motor Club Chairman Brian Brogan today confirmed the news that will electrify Irish rally fans and motorcycle enthusiasts.
“We’ve hoped for a long time this would come off,” Mr Brogan said.
“We can’t wait to see Michael tackle the classic stages like Knockalla and Atlantic Drive. Mind you, he’ll be going a lot slower than he usually travels but we think he’ll enjoy it as much as we’ll enjoy having him here. Donegal is absolutely buzzing about it, and Irish rallying is in for a real treat.”
Reigning Irish Tarmac champion and previous Donegal Rally winner Garry Jennings will be ‘thrilled’ to see Dunlop go under the starter’s orders next Friday.
“While we won’t be in the same category I’ll be looking for his stage times just like everybody else,” Jennings said.
“He is untouchable in road racing and a hero to so many of us. Rallying will be new to him so I just hope he enjoys himself.
“He has nothing to prove about speed and so much to adjust to in a very different sport – I don’t think he carries a passenger on the bike -but boy will it add to the craic in Donegal!”
Clerk of the Course Eamon McGee said: “We have been working on this for some time and it is just great that Michael will be part of the 2014 Donegal Rally. His achievements on the Isle of Man were incredible and we expect that many of his fans will make the trip to Donegal to see him.
“There is a big crossover with rallying and motorcycling in Ireland. A lot of our members go to the major road race meetings and they are all thrilled that he’s coming.
“He is entered in the most competitive class in the most competitive rally in the country so he’s not just putting a toe in the water either, but jumping in at the deep end.”
Donegal Together For Yes will launch its campaign at 6pm this evening, Friday, in Jackson’s Hotel, Ballybofey.