William Dunlop believes he can capture his maiden Isle of Man TT victory in 2013 after penning a deal with Shaun Muir’s British championship Milwaukee Yamaha team.
As revealed in the News Letter, The 27-year-old from Ballymoney will contest the North West 200, TT and Ulster Grand Prix plus the British Supersport Championship next year in the factory-supported outfit with a full stable of R6 and R1 machines at his disposal.
Dunlop’s bikes were raced this year by Ian Hutchinson in the Swan colours, although the Yorkshire rider has been sidelined next year as he continues to battle the effects of a serious leg injury sustained in a crash in 2010.
Northern Ireland star Dunlop, who split from Wilson Craig’s Honda team in October in an amicable parting of ways, announced himself as a major contender at the TT in June, where he topped the Supersport practice times before claiming his first podium finish in the opening 600cc race behind Bruce Anstey and Cameron Donald.
He was leading race two before bike trouble ended his hopes on the opening lap but Dunlop now feels he can take the extra step next summer and clinch a prestigious victory on the Island, where he will ride his favourite Yamaha R6.
“I’ve done 126mph in practice at the TT and the pressure got to me in the first Supersport race, but I felt like I was in the zone in the second race and I thought I’d have won it,” said Dunlop, whose brother Michael stormed to victory in the race from Donald.
“I felt so good and after messing up the first one I was ready for the second race, but you’ve got to finish to win and it was one of those things.
“The Yamaha R6 is a great bike and hopefully we’ll be able to get a win next time.”
On his deal with Muir, William is ready to reap the benefits of an intensive testing programme prior to the start of the season as he builds towards the TT, when he’s also confident of a solid result on the ex-Ian Hutchinson Yamaha YZF-R1 Superbike.
“It’s a big chance for me and I was really impressed with the whole set-up after going over and seeing the workshop,” he said.
“It was an easy decision to make and I can just focus on racing.
“The bikes are Hutchy’s bikes and the Superbike is a World Superbike-spec R1 that was raced by [Eugene] Laverty and [Marco] Melandri a couple of years back,” he added.
“I’ve no doubt we’ll get the big bike working right for the TT and Hutchy did a lap at 127.8mph on the bike at the TT this year, which was pretty good considering how bad an injury he had.”