Honda TT Legends team boss Neil Tuxworth believes Northern Ireland’s Michael Dunlop can replace reigning Mountain master John McGuinness as the new king of the iconic motorsport marvel.
Former TT racer Tuxworth signed Dunlop to compete on the factory Honda CBR1000RR Fireblade at the North West 200 and TT this season alongside 19-times winner McGuinness and Michael Rutter in the Superbike class.
The veteran duo – who are weeks away from their 41st birthdays – are entering the twilight of their respective careers, but at 23-years-old Dunlop has the road racing world at his feet.
Already a three-times TT winner in the Supersport and Superstock classes, Dunlop has been handed the biggest opportunity of his career to step up and challenge for the sport’s Holy Grail – an exalted TT victory in the blue riband Superbike division.
Standing in his way is Morecambe titan McGuinness, who unquestionably remains the undisputed monarch of the 37.73-mile Mountain course.
But Dunlop, with the extra leverage of the official Honda team in his corner this year, is bidding to assume McGuinness’ throne.
And while his quest to overthrow long-time ruler McGuinness may not be achieved instantaneously, Tuxworth has played his ace card to safeguard Honda’s status at the most famous road race in the world for years to come, reuniting the Dunlop name with the mighty Japanese manufacturer and evoking memories of Ulster legend Joey Dunlop’s fabled association with the world’s foremost motorcycle producer.
“Obviously we’re very pleased to have the services of Michael Dunlop and to have him on board with us,” said Tuxworth, who saw Dunlop make his debut on the TT Legends Fireblade during two Dunlop tyre tests at Mireval in France and Albacete in Spain last week.
“We’ve worked obviously heavily in the past with his uncle Joey Dunlop and the Dunlop name is synonymous with the TT, which features heavily in the programme we’re doing.
“Not only that, Michael Dunlop – although only a very young rider – has already won three TTs and we see him as the future of the Isle of Man TT.
“No disrespect to John McGuinness or to Michael Rutter, but they are in their forties now and they can’t keep going on forever,” he added.
“We need to be looking at younger blood to come in and replace them eventually and this is the reason we’re looking at Michael.”