Tyco Suzuki’s new signing William Dunlop says there will be “no excuses” at this year’s Vauxhall International North West 200 as he chases his maiden Superbike race win on the 8.9 mile Portrush, Portstewart, Coleraine Triangle course.
“The North West will be my first International race of 2014 on the new bikes and I am training hard in the gym to be ready.” the 27 year old Ballymoney man says as he gears up for the Superbike, Supersport and Superstock races at the 2014 event.
“The TAS Suzuki’s have always been good around the North West with Bruce Anstey and Alastair Seeley and it is a big event for the Tyco team so I want to win a Superbike race this year.”
The Ballymoney man, who jumped ship from the Milwaukee Yamaha team during the winter to join the charismatic Guy Martin in the Tyco Suzuki team, already has three wins to his credit at Portrush. Dunlop scored a 125cc-250cc double in 2009 before clinching his first International road race win on a Wilson Craig Honda in the Supersport race in 2012.
Having also won at the Ulster Grand Prix and been on the podium at the TT on Supersport spec bikes, Dunlop recognises that he is regarded by some as a 600 specialist but he says he intends to make his mark in the premier Superbike class in 2014.
“The Superbike races are the ones to win and I want to prove to people that I can win on a big bike as well as a 600.” he says.
Having ridden Hondas for Wilson Craig in 2012 and Yamahas with Shaun Muir’s Milwaukee squad last season, Dunlop is well placed to make comparisons between the Japanese machinery.
“I raced against Guy Martin at the Ulster Grand Prix last year and his GSXR was as fast as my Yamaha R1.” he says.
“The Suzukis are as fast as anything out there and by the time I get to the North West I will have done plenty of testing and we will have the bike well set up and ready to go.”
Dunlop and Martin took a win apiece in the two Supersport races at Dundrod last August and Dunlop is certain that the 600cc Suzuki will be on the pace in 2014 in the smaller class.
“I have never ridden a 600 Suzuki before but the team seem to have it sorted now and it was very fast at the Prix.” Dunlop reflected.
TV celebrity racer Guy Martin has never won at the North West in spite of being on the podium four times since his 2004 debut. The old adage that the first person you have to beat in any race is your teammate should add some extra spice to the rivalry between the established star of the Tyco squad and the new arrival on May 17.
“William is new to us although we have plenty of experience of having competed against him.” Tyco Suzuki boss Philip Neill says.
“We know how he can go on a 600 but the Superbike class is the big one. I think that is where we will help William to excel and there may be a few surprised people watching the Number 6 at the North West this year.”
NW200 Event Director, Mervyn Whyte, MBE, agrees that William Dunlop will be at the front of the Superbike pack come May.
“William is a big favourite with the North West 200 fans having put in some brilliant performances in recent years and I think he will be right at the front in both Superbike races in 2014 on the Tyco Suzukis challenging for his first International big bike win.”