New factory BMW Motorrad signing Michael Dunlop says nothing would be sweeter than winning a premier class race for the German manufacturer at the Isle of Man TT in June.
It’s been 75 years since George Meier gave BMW victory in the feature class at the mecca of international road racing in the Senior TT in 1939, but Dunlop believes he can end the long wait after confirming he will continue in the sport in 2014 following a deal to ride a specially-built BMW S1000RR.
The 24-year-old’s split from Neil Tuxworth’s Honda team in November sparked fevered speculation over his next move, with Dunlop eventually taking to social media outlet Facebook to reveal he was considering a break from motorcycle racing.
Nonetheless, the statement did little to subdue the tidal wave of rumours surrounding the Ballymoney man’s future and if anything the interest in his plans became even more frenzied.
On Tuesday, though, the seven-time Isle of Man TT winner officially announced for the first time that he will be back on the grid this season and provided details of his tie-up with BMW as a factory rider for the North West 200, TT, Ulster Grand Prix and Macau Grand Prix.
Dunlop told the News Letter: “It’s good to finally get something sorted. Like I said before, I wasn’t planning on doing anything this year and I stand by what I said – I would only decide to come back with the right package.
“BMW has put that package together and it’s something totally new for me. I’m happy with their commitment to me and it’s good to get the announcement out there because I was sick of all the nonsense people were talking.
“This puts an end to all the talk now and I can get on with it,” he added.
“BMW have been really open with me and the Superbike will be built around me and only me. Everything is being done to suit me and they will give me anything I need – they want to see me win and they’re behind me one hundred per cent.
“They are more than willing to work with me to make sure the bike is totally right for the job and I’ve got full factory support behind me.”
Dunlop will ride the German Superbike for BMW Motorrad UK and Hawk Racing, who run the Buildbase BMW British Superbike outfit. The Superbike will carry the official BMW livery, although Dunlop’s Superstock S1000RR HP4 will run in his own MD Racing colours.
He has yet to make a decision on a Supersport machine, which will also be entered under the MD Racing banner.
“I’m on a massive high at the moment and I’m probably more determined this year to set my stall out and show people what I can do,” Dunlop said.
“BMW are confident that I’m a winning package and I have confidence in them to give me the bike I need. We’ve got something good together. I’m willing to take a chance and there’s probably no-one out there at all who would take a bit of a gamble like this after winning four TTs last year, because obviously it’s a bit of an unknown quantity for me.
“But this has given me a new lease of life and more fire in my stomach to race a brand new motorbike that has never really been tested around the TT. This has added a bit of spice to the challenge and if I can pull it off this year then it will make it all the more sweeter.”
Stuart Hicken, BMW/Hawk Racing team principal, said: “We are extremely pleased to have assembled such an experienced racing team.
“We have been working on it for a while and I genuinely believe that with Michael, the technical expertise from BMW Motorrad Motorsport and the BMW S1000RR, we have secured all the elements we need to be at the sharp end, challenging for a great result at the TT.”
Lee Nicholls, BMW Motorrad Marketing Manager, added: “We are so pleased to have secured Michael Dunlop to ride for BMW/Hawk Racing. His record speaks for itself and we are confident that, on a BMW S1000RR, he can dominate on the roads this season.
“Creating a team that will focus all its efforts on Michael will present BMW with a realistic chance of replicating our famous victory 75 years ago at the TT.”