William Dunlop says he intends to capitalise on the advantages of being in a one-man team in 2016 after joining forces with Ulster outfit CD Racing.
Dunlop will ride a Yamaha YZF-R1 Superbike for the Chris Dowd-run team alongside the trick Supersport R6 on which he went through the Irish National campaign unbeaten this year, with both machines prepared by ex-Yamaha World Superbike engineer and tuning genius Marcus Eschenbacher.
Sponsor Ivan Curran also remains part of the tight-knit set-up and Dunlop is looking ahead to a fresh challenge after parting company from Moneymore’s TAS Racing team in October following two seasons on 1000cc Suzuki and BMW machinery.
The 30-year-old was Guy Martin’s team-mate during his stint in Philip Neill’s squad and although Dunlop enjoyed his two-year association in the Tyco-backed team, the Ballymoney man says the guarantee of being the number one rider at CD Racing was a big part of the attraction in joining loyal backer Dowd full-time once again.
“I had a good relationship with Guy and everyone in the team at TAS and I got on well with them, but no matter what team you go to, there’s always a rider who gets pushed more in one way than the other,” he said.
“Anywhere I’ve been, when I’ve rode a 600 I’m the rider who gets everything going whereas the other rider doesn’t get as much, but when it comes to a Superbike, I’m the one who misses out. Naturally, the team is going to go behind their strongest rider with each bike but riding for Chris next year means everything is geared around me.
“That was one of the biggest things for me because I wanted to be in a one-man team and when it comes to Chris and building bikes, he always looks after me and listens to what I have to say,” added Dunlop, who revealed that he was surprised by the number of offers he received for next season following news of his split from Tyco BMW.
“I didn’t have the best of years, so I was really surprised to have five or six good offers for next year and that’s something that hasn’t happened even when I’ve had good years before,” he said.
“But I know Chris well, I fit in with the team and I’m looking forward to everything because Eugene McManus is also involved with helping Chris and we all get on with one another. I might even do a couple of British championship rounds and it’s the whole package that appeals to me.
“We’ll probably do much the same as we did this year and although you always say you’re not too worried about the Nationals, when the time comes you end up putting an entry in,” Dunlop added.
“We’re not geared around the wee road races and the big thing is the internationals, but Chris is easy either way and if there’s one of the wee races we want to go to, it’s only a matter of throwing the bikes in the back of the van.”
The multiple North West 200 and Ulster Grand Prix winner sealed the Irish National Superbike and Supersport crowns this year, although a crash at the North West during practice and another big spill at the TT had a detrimental impact on his season as a whole.
Dunlop, though, has put the disappointments on the international stage this year behind him and has placed his faith in the Yamaha R1, despite a mixed season on the roads for the Japanese manufacturer’s all-new Superbike.
“It might not be perfect from the word go, but I’ve definitely got the people there to make it go right and I’m not expecting everything to go perfectly at the start of the year, but I’m confident we’ll get there,” he said.
“That’s the side of racing that I like as well – I enjoy getting involved in the technical side of things and working with a bike to get the best from it, so it should be fun.
“The Yamaha R6 will be pretty much the exact same again next year and the bike I have is the best that they can possibly give me – there’s been no holding back on anything and it’s the very best of stuff. I’m looking forward to getting on the bike again and everything seems to be well sorted with it now.”
Dunlop is set to ride an alternative machine in the Superstock class with a Kawasaki ZX-10R or BMW S1000RR the obvious choice for the production-based races next year.