Michael Dunlop has signed an eleventh hour deal to ride for Tyco BMW in the superbike classes at this year’s international road races.
The 15-times TT winner’s plans have been subject to much speculation since he confirmed he’d opted not to renew his contract with the factory Suzuki squad ahead of last week’s TT press launch.
While no official reason was given for the split, it’s understood Dunlop was less than happy about a lack of development with the GSX-R after parts promised by Suzuki did not arrive in time for the team’s Spanish test.
Dunlop has enjoyed significant success with the BMW marque in recent years, with victories in the Superbike, Superstock and Senior races in 2014 and Superbike and Senior wins in 2016.
The Ballymoney ace was in negotiations to switch to Hector and Philip Neill’s official BMW Motorrad-backed squad earlier this year, but after a test on Suzuki’s MotoGP bike in Sepang Dunlop declined the offer and agreed to test the Suzuki GSX-R with Hawk at Cartagena three weeks ago.
However, after the Hawk split, those discussions resumed and were this time successful with Dunlop penning a deal to join the Moneymore effort on Monday morning.
“Tyco and I have spoken many of times but nothing ever came of it, this year everything fell into place,” Dunlop said. “I think it’s a good time for us both to have go at a partnership, I think both can bring something to the table and I’m looking forward to seeing the outcome”
With Dunlop having won six out of the last ten big bike TTs, it will come as no surprise that the Neills have chased Dunlop’s signature before now and having lost Ian Hutchinson’s services for this year, Dunlop was the number one target for the squad.
“Michael and I have discussed options to work together on various occasions and I honestly believe this is a partnership that simply had to happen at some point,” Philip Neill said. “Hector and I, together with all the guys at TAS Racing, are excited and looking forward to the challenge.”
Text and Image – MCN