The overriding feeling following the news of Michael Dunlop’s deal to join the factory Honda team for the international road races in 2013 is that history is repeating itself once again.
Like his dad, Robert and uncle, Joey, Michael has walked in their footsteps by becoming a winner at the Isle of Man TT.
And now he and his brother William have taken the Dunlop story a step further, signing works deals with Honda and Yamaha respectively to emulate the achievements of the legendary road racing duo, who earned contracts with the factory Norton and Honda teams all those years ago when they were at the peak of their powers.
It was almost inevitable that this day would come.
Michael already has three TT wins under his belt at the age of 23 and there is no question that he is the heir to his Honda TT Legends team-mate John McGuinness’s throne on the Mountain Course.
He’s won in the 600cc class and last year took the honours in the Superstock race to leave the Holy Grail of a Superbike success as his only unticked box at the TT.
Some may feel it will be asking too much, too soon for Dunlop to complete the set next June. It will take something special to become the first rider to topple McGuinness in a premier class race at the TT in nine years, but 2013 is already being billed as a battle of supremacy between Dunlop and McGuinness - the young pretender versus the old master.
And Dunlop isn’t one bit fazed by the prospect.
“The main thing about this deal is that it will make my life a lot easier next season,” he told News Letter Sport.
“I’ll have plenty of testing on the bike before the North West 200 and the TT and I’ll have a team around me working on the bike, so that will let me just get on with the job.
“The bike’s got a factory engine, it’s got a great chassis for the TT and reliability is a big thing as well.
“I’m on Dunlop tyres, so everything’s in place. Honda is involved with me next year because they feel I can win a big bike race at the TT and I will win it for them,” he declared.
“Everywhere you look history seems to be repeating itself for the Dunlops.
“The story just keeps going and it’s great to see it.
“I’m looking forward to next year, it’s a big opportunity for me and I want to grab it with both hands and see what I can make of it.”
His biggest successes to date have been achieved in privately-run teams and although Dunlop is now a works Honda rider, he will still prepare his own 600cc and Superstock Hondas for the Supersport and Superstock events at the internationals with the backing of the same loyal band of supporters, chief among them Gary Ryan, while Hunts Motorcycles and McAdoo Racing remain on board again next season.
Cameron Donald and Simon Andrews are also part of the Honda Legends team, joining McGuinness and Rutter for the Endurance World Championship.