Michael Dunlop says PBM Ducati deal for Isle of Man TT 'turned into a bit of a nightmare'

Michael Dunlop says his doomed deal to ride a PBM Ducati at this year’s Isle of Man TT ‘turned into a bit of a nightmare’.

Dunlop announced on Saturday night that he would no longer be riding the Panigale V4R Superbike at the North West 200 and TT.

The Ballymoney man was speaking at the official launch of the TT and admits he now faces a race against time to secure alternative machinery, with practice for the TT getting under way in just over one month’s time.

Speaking at the launch, Dunlop – who is the third most successful TT rider ever with 19 victories – said: “It turned into a bit of a nightmare, stuff hasn’t arrived, testing has fallen apart and a lot of my sponsors have been let down a bit.

Michael Dunlop won his 19th race at the Isle of Man TT with victory in the Lightweight event on the Paton in 2019.

“We should have been testing last week and it hasn’t happened, so I thought ‘you know what, I’m too old in the tooth for this’. We should have been on it because it’s a brand new motorbike and we needed time.

“Racing against these lads that are full-time professionals riding bikes day in, day out, and they want me to rock up at the first race and that be the first time I sat on it – it’s just not practical.

“As I said to my boys if we weren’t smiling we’d be crying.”

Dunlop said the TT organisers have been understanding of his circumstances, with the 33-year-old opting to call it quits now rather than during the TT fortnight as he did when he was unhappy with the Milwaukee Yamaha R1 he was set to ride at the event in 2015.

“We’re three weeks away, there’s a lot of things to happen before then. I haven’t forgotten how to ride a motorbike and something will come up no doubt,” he said.

“We’ll just keep at it and see what happens. The TT has been fantastic with me because I keep coming back with a drama and somewhere along the line I seem to be someone who brings a lot of bad vibes with me, but Paul (Phillips, TT Business Development Manager) has been fantastic with me, he’s understood the situation and where I come from.

“The job was to be right and it hasn’t turned out that way. He’s happy enough with that and so am I, and it’s better doing it now rather than half-way through practice week like I have done before,” added Dunlop.

“We have a 600 built, a ’stocker nearly ready to go and a lightweight as well, so hopefully we can get the revenue up a bit to get a proper Superbike and have a go at these boys.

“I don’t mind what I get on, I’ve done it for all the manufacturers and I know if we get back on one we can try something else.”

Dunlop said he hoped some ‘doors might start opening’ over the next few days following confirmation that his deal with British Superbike team owner Paul Bird is off.

“Over the next couple of days I’ll have an understanding of what’s going on, what’s possible to achieve, but the main thing is to put myself on something that I can come here with and not be rocking up without any time on it,” he said.

“These boys are riding day in, day out in BSB and it’s really competitive, so we need to come here with something that is going to be competitive.

“I need to get on a bike next week and do some miles. Hopefully some doors might start opening – I’m going racing next weekend on the 600 and ’stocker, then it’s off to the North West and then here.

“Two years off from the TT is going to be interesting for a lot of people. It’s going to be really interesting in my opinion after three years, and I think there will be a lot of different variables in there - I’m hoping my experience will come to the fore.”

Dunlop is due to compete in the Supersport and Superstock classes at round two of the British Superbike Championship at Oulton Park from April 30 to May 2.