Honda race boss Neil Tuxworth has sensationally announced that Michael Dunlop will not be racing with Honda in 2014.
“Michael with not be with Honda next year, that is 100%.” Tuxworth confirmed this afternoon when MCN contacted him to discuss speculation over the 24 year old Ballymoney rider’s future.
“We put two or three deals to Michael but he turned them all down.” the Honda supremo explained. “He decided that he didn’t want to stay with Honda.”
Tuxworth admitted he was disappointed that the 2013 four-time TT winner would not be in his 2014 race squad.
“You couldn’t have had a much more successful season than we have had this year with Michael, winning four out of five TTs on Hondas, so yes, I am disappointed that he won’t be racing with us next year.”
The normally outspoken Dunlop, who has retained a stony silence with the media over the past few months, was unavailable for comment on his 2014 plans. With his brother William known to be in talks with Tyco Suzuki and James Hillier dominating Kawasaki’s plans, only Milwaukee Yamaha would appear to have any room left amongst the big teams for the world’s Number One road racer. But the already confirmed presence of Josh Brookes and Ian Hutchinson at Milwaukee raises the prospect of an over crowded garage that might find its resources stretched to the limit by the addition of a rider of Dunlop’s ability.
Buildbase BMW are known to be interested in competing on the roads in 2014 and are certain to be interested in securing Dunlop’s services.
Or perhaps Dunlop, who won three of his four TTs in 2013 on his own Michael Dunlop Racing Hondas, has decided being a factory rider, with all of its corporate demands, is not for him and that he will return to running his own team.
There is inevitably a great deal of speculation surrounding the name of the rider who will take up the Honda seat that Dunlop has now vacated, but Neil Tuxworth was remaining tightlipped.
“I have heard eight or nine names today alone of riders who will be racing for us next year.” he smiled.
“John McGuinness wants to stay with the team and we would like to work with him again but we haven’t agreed terms with anyone yet.” he said.
Going for his 21st TT win, it is little wonder that McGuinness wants to stay with Honda and he must be more than a little encouraged by the silly season’s twists and turns.
The departure from the dominant Honda TT camp of the first man to beat him in a superbike TT race that he has finished since 2003 should help him sleep a little easier over the winter months.