Roads: Dunlop confirms Suzuki split
Michael Dunlop has confirmed he will not race for Suzuki at this year’s Isle of Man TT and other road race events after weeks of speculation.
Many thought the 15-time TT winner’s 2018 plans had been confirmed when he rolled out on the Buildbase Suzuki GSX-R at a test in Cartagena two weeks ago, but the deal was far from done.
MCN understands Dunlop was present at the test to see whether improvements to the Suzuki over winter were enough to convince him to stay, but with rumours the Ballymoney ace was slower on the 2018-spec bike than he’d been on the 2017 machine 12 months previous it soon became clear that Dunlop’s 2018 plans were far from sorted.
A statement released on his Facebook page on Friday evening confirmed he’d opted not to renew his contract with Hawk Racing: “I’d like to clarify my current position regarding the upcoming road racing season,” it read. “I will be contesting the Superstock and Supersport classes at the Isle of Man TT and other events on my own MD Racing machines.
“I have not renewed my contract with Hawk Racing however, I am currently considering my options for the Superbike class and will confirm my plans when something is sorted.
“I’d like to thank Stuart and Steve [Hicken] for their support over recent years where we have shared a lot of success together.”
Dunlop’s next move is somewhat of a mystery with a lot of speculation surrounding the idea that he may field his own superbike machine. However, earlier this year he was in advanced negotiations with the Tyco BMW squad to take over the seat left vacant by Ian Hutchinson after his defection to Honda.
For more on Dunlop's 2018 plans and Suzuki test at Cartagena, pick up this week's MCN.