Michael Dunlop says he is ready to embrace the challenge of leading Team Classic Suzuki to glory at the new-look Classic TT races in 2013.
The Ulster road racing titan will be joined by Manx rider Conor Cummins in the team, when the pair will ride the latest specification Suzuki XR69 machines in the Formula 1 race for team owner Steve Wheatman.
Top female TT and Manx GP regular Maria Costello MBE will ride a Harris-framed GSXR750 Suzuki, while Antrim’s John Simpson - a sensational winner of the Senior Manx Grand Prix on his debut on the Mountain course this year - completes the line-up on an iconic RG500.
Dunlop, who won the Classic Superbike race in August and also tasted victory at the Manx GP in 2010, told News Letter Sport he was expecting an ‘interesting’ race.
“I’ve done the Classic Manx since 2010 and it’s not a massive change for me really because I’m with the same team, although I’m planning on changing a few bits and pieces for next year,” he said.
“The Formula 1 race opens it up to other bikes like the Honda RC30, which would have a big advantage over my bike because they’re more modern and have the best of gear.
“My bike did 145mph through the speed trap but an RC30 was doing 170mph or 180mph back in the day,” he added.
“But then again those bikes are rare now and they’re worth about £40,000, plus there wouldn’t be a lot of parts around for them.
“I’ve something up my sleeve anyway for the Formula 1 race next year anyway so it will make it interesting.”
Seven times TT winner Mick Grant will take on the role of Team Co-Ordinator for the event with former Suzuki race team mechanics Paul Boulton and Nathan Colombi and XR69 development guru John Sims of Trident Engineering in charge of machine preparation.
The Manx Grand Prix has been rebranded as the Isle of Man Festival of Motorcycling for 2013 as part of a strategic overhaul aimed at boosting the profile of the event.
And Dunlop feels the revamp will prove a hit.
“There’s been big changes for next year but I think it will do well,” he said.
“It’s being pushed like the TT now and once you’ve got the big names there and the big teams, then it’ll bring in the crowds.”
Guy Martin and Dan Cooper are also among the entries next year, when they’ll ride for Team Molnar Manx in the 500cc Classic TT event.