Michael Dunlop considering Superbike options after parting company from Hawk Racing

Michael Dunlop won the Senior race at the Isle of Man TT last year on the Hawk Racing Suzuki.
Michael Dunlop won the Senior race at the Isle of Man TT last year on the Hawk Racing Suzuki.

Michael Dunlop has revealed he has not renewed his contract with Hawk Racing to contest the Superbike class at the international road races in 2018.

Dunlop tested the Buildbase Suzuki at Cartagena in Spain at the beginning of March but the Ballymoney rider says he is now considering his options.

In an official statement issued on his Facebook page, Dunlop said: “I’d like to clarify my current position regarding the up and coming road racing season.

“I will be contesting the Superstock and Supersport classes at the Isle of Man TT and other events on my own MD Racing machines. I have not renewed my contract with Hawk Racing however, I am currently considering my options for the Superbike class and will confirm my plans when something is sorted.

“I’d like to thank Steve and Stuart (Hicken) for their support over recent years, where we have shared a lot of success together.”

Dunlop won the Senior race at the TT last year on the all-new Bennetts Suzuki, notching up his 15th success around the Mountain Course. Despite limited laps on the GSX-R1000 due to poor weather during practice week, he was leading the Superbike TT until he was forced out on lap two.

The 28-year-old finished a close fourth in the feature Superbike race at the North West 200 on the Suzuki behind Glenn Irwin, Alastair Seeley and Ian Hutchinson, and also bagged three wins at the Southern 100.

However, Dunlop was unable to match the pace of the Superbike frontrunners at the Ulster Grand Prix and later stressed the need to have an overall package that would enable him to challenge for race victories.

Assessing his maiden year on the Suzuki, Dunlop – speaking at Motorcycle Live at the NEC before Christmas – said: “It was a bit of an up and down season and it wasn’t the easiest season we ever had, but we pushed as hard as we could with the new bike.

“The first Superbike race [at the TT] was in the bag and I had the fastest lap on the first lap, but then we broke down. We made amends in the second Superbike race, the Senior, and we got a win in the Supersport race – the only one there was.

“We struggled a wee bit the rest of the year, I’m not going to lie about it, but we were definitely trying the whole time. We had a brand new motorcycle it’s just not as easy as turning up and getting it done,” he added.

“We could make it work at the TT but when we are at the big fast stuff like the North West and the Ulster Grand Prix, we just couldn’t seem to hold our own.

“It was a big ask for me this year as well but I want to be winning everywhere else [not just at the TT] and I know I’m capable of winning everywhere.”