Roads: Halsall to make roads switch with William Dunlop
Halsall Racing have announced they will turn their attention to the roads for the 2017 season after withdrawing from the MCE British Superbike Championship.
Team boss Martin Halsall revealed he would be leaving the short circuit racing scene in an emotional statement two weeks ago citing the 'exorbitant costs' of running a race team in BSB. This came in spite of a strong interest from 2015 BSB champion Josh Brookes.
Having long talked of running a roads effort, following his decision to withdraw from BSB, Halsall has signed a deal with William Dunlop to contest the 2017 North West 200, Isle of Man TT and Ulster Grand Prix races.
“This has certainly been a personal ambition of mine to make a move towards this discipline of the sport”, said Halsall. “Road racing is a truly unique experience, with so much passion and energy. There has never been a better time to take this step and I am really excited about the prospects ahead.
“This will be a challenge for sure, but I am optimistic about our potential prospects. With our proven ability to operate a leading race team, coupled with William’s extensive roads knowledge, we can make this very successful. I know how to build a team and we will be recruiting key individuals with unparalleled experience in road racing to ensure that our package is the best. Our focus and attention will be on William and on him alone. He will have the right infrastructure around him and it will be dedicated to ensuring he has everything he needs to be successful."
While Halsall is announcing his plans to make a roads debut with the elder Dunlop brother, at this stage the squad haven’t finalised what bikes the Ballymoney man will ride at the three international races.
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“With no ties to any one manufacturer, this offers the flexibility for us as a privateer team to select the right tools for the job and choose the most suitable bikes for each discipline,” Halsall explained. “Bikes that William feels can give him the best opportunity across each of the classes. He will have whatever he needs for Superbike, Superstock and Supersport. We are being guided by his experience and choice of manufacturer. Our aim is to confirm this fully in the coming weeks and months.”
Dunlop added: “Martin runs a very strong team and you only have to look at what he has done and achieved on the short circuits to see that he ensures everything is done in the correct way. It’s sleek, professional and highly driven. To have the team dedicated to me alone, will certainly raise my game. It’s the ride that I have been seeking and it’s been worth the wait to finally get this agreement in place. We’ll be learning a great deal along the way, but I’m confident we can deliver some success in 2017 and I can’t wait to get started. This is also an opportunity for me to express my thanks to the loyal supporters and sponsors that have backed me in 2016 and have been extremely positive about the move to Halsall Racing. I’d like to thank everyone for their continued support.
“Time on the bike is so important ahead of the new season. It worked this season as we saw, particularly on the Superbike at the TT for riders that had the preparation before the start of the roads season. I was not as sharp at the start of 2016 because I had very limited time on the bike in those opening months. By the time we arrived at Portrush, that deficiency was very clear for me. It really set the tone for my season and I don’t want to be in that position next year. Our plan with Halsall Racing is to ensure that I am in the best form by the time we arrive for the North West 200”.