Having won four out of the last six Superbike and Senior TT races, Michael Dunlop is the man when it comes to the Isle of Man mountain course.
Nephew of the late, great Joey Dunlop and son of Robert, Michael laid down the marker in 2016 to obliterate the existing lap record with an average speed of 133.962mph.
However, the 13-time TT winner has set himself a new challenge for 2017 switching from his trusty BMW to Suzuki’s all new GSX-R1000.
While some of his rivals, most notably Ian Hutchinson, have suggested Dunlop made the switch because he had no other options than to remain with the Hawk Racing team, but the Ulsterman laughs this off.
“People seem to think I stayed with Hawk because I didn’t have any other choice but I can tell you that’s definitely not true,” Dunlop says with a wry smile. “I had a few other options but over the last few years I’ve got on really well with Steve Hicken.
“Sometimes I’m not the easiest to work with but if you promise me you’ll do something and you do it we’ve nothing to fall out about, but if you tell me you’re going to do something and you don’t that’s when we’ve got issues. He knows that the effort I put in is 110% and I know it’s the same from him so it just works for both me and him. They’re not the biggest team in the world but they do a good job.”
However, it’s not just his strong relationship with the Hickens that led to Dunlop staying with Hawk. “The new bike was a good trigger for me,” he explained. “I wanted something that nobody else had, just to see if we can do it. Everybody has a BMW now, and yes last year it was the fastest bike but you get to the stage where you’re winning on something that everybody’s riding and I lose the buzz for it. I like trying something different and this new step is just that.”
For Dunlop, it seems to be much less about the bike than about those he’s working with. Since 2014, he’s built up such a relationship with Hawk owners, Steve and Stuart Hicken he trusts them to take him to the TT on a completely unproven package.
“Given the right people around me, I think I could win on anything. I mean, obviously you can’t get a dead horse to run, but you can get a knackered one going again! I do think I can win on anything if everything around me is right.”
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