Ian Hutchinson is set to switch to Dunlop rubber on the Tyco BMW for the international road races in 2017.
The Yorkshire rider is the latest big name to change brands from Metzeler after Guy Martin’s move to Honda Racing ensured the Lincolnshire man would also be running Dunlop rubber this year alongside team-mate John McGuinness.
Dunlop has proven to be the winning choice at the Isle of Man TT in the Superbike and Senior races in recent years and you have to go back to Cameron Donald’s Superbike victory in 2008 to find a premier class winner running a different brand of tyres.
By making the change, Hutchinson - who is entering into his second season with the Moneymore-based TAS Racing team - will hope to level the playing field, with each of his major rivals all running Dunlop-shod machinery in 2017, including new Bennetts Suzuki rider Dunlop, Honda pair McGuinness and Martin and Kiwi Bruce Anstey on the Padgetts Honda.
News of the big change, which hasn’t yet been officially announced by the Tyco BMW squad, was brought to light by the team’s press officer, who sent a tweet to Michael Dunlop on Tuesday evening suggesting the 27-year-old could be changing tyre companies himself from Dunlop to Metzeler.
However, the ‘Maverick’ - who will continue to run Dunlop tyres this season - responded by revealing Hutchinson is switching to a different brand on the Tyco BMW. TAS Racing has not denied the claim, whcih sources have confirmed to the News Letter.
Last year, the rivalry between Dunlop and Hutchinson reached boiling point at the TT and there is no love lost between the rival camps.
Hutchinson moved onto 14 wins after a Supersport double on the Team Traction Control Yamaha and a Superstock win, but Dunlop is only one victory behind following his dominant brace in the blue riband Superbike and Senior races for the Hawk Racing team.