Michael Dunlop makes MotoGP debut on Suzuki at Sepang

Michael Dunlop pictured before he took to the track at Sepang in Malaysia on the Ecstar Suzuki MotoGP machine.

Michael Dunlop has completed a private test on the factory Ecstar Suzuki MotoGP bike at Sepang in Malaysia.

The Ballymoney man was invited to the test in recognition of his victory in the Senior race at the Isle of Man TT in 2017, when he powered the all-new GSX-R1000 to the top step for his 15th Mountain Course win.

Michael Dunlop in action at Sepang in Malaysia during a private test on the Ecstar Suzuki MotoGP bike.

Dunlop joined the factory’s MotoAmerica champion Toni Elias and Australian champion Josh Waters for the closed-doors test on the 2017 GSX-RR on Thursday.

The trio were briefed by Suzuki test rider Sylvain Guintoli before taking to the track, who provided advice on the bike’s seamless gearbox, carbon brakes and the characteristics of the engine.

Waters and Dunlop swapped stints on the machine, with the 28-year-old Ulsterman making the most of the opportunity with lengthy spells on the circuit during each of his runs.

However, it seems none of the trio were able to use Michelin’s MotoGP-spec tyres in the test, which would eat into the team’s official allocation for pre-season testing.

Ballymoney's Michael Dunlop in a debrief with the Ecstar Suzuki team following his MotoGP debut at Sepang on Thursday.

Crash.Net’s Peter McLaren, the only journalist present at the test, said former Suzuki GP racer Nobuatsu Aoki had been ‘surprised by how quickly Dunlop had adapted’ to the bike.

The Northern Ireland rider, who was making his MotoGP debut, has yet to announce his plans for 2018.

He has been linked to a host of teams, including Tyco BMW, but Suzuki is courting his signature for another season and Dunlop’s participation in the test could be a strong sign of his intentions this year.

The private test concluded on Thursday and the first official three-day MotoGP test of 2018 will commence at Sepang on Sunday.

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