Michael Dunlop has given Yamaha’s new YZF-R1 a ringing endorsement as the 11-time Isle of Man TT winner embarks on a new challenge this season with a third different manufacturer in as many years.
Dunlop kick-started a remarkable winning streak at the TT in 2013, clinching his maiden Superbike success on the Honda Racing Fireblade and following up last year with a dominant double in the Superbike and Senior races for BMW Motorrad.
The 25-year-old, who made history last June by becoming the first rider ever to record successive four-timers on the Mountain Course, opted for Yamaha as his weapon of choice this year and has given the R1 a big thumbs-up following a test at Alcarras in Spain last week.
Dunlop only tested a stock engine and has yet to ride his fully-fledged TT Superbike, but the Ballymoney man got a feel for Yamaha’s all-new R1 and was impressed by his first experience of the bike, which he hopes will fire him to more premier class glory on the island this summer.
“I was really impressed with the R1 ’stock bike in Spain,” said Dunlop. “It looks quite tiny and small but when you get on it, it feels big. We turned the key and away we went and we were able to do whatever we wanted to do with the bike.
“I felt comfortable on it and the bike went where I wanted it to; I’m really looking forward to the Superbike now.”
Dunlop is taking on a similar task to the one he faced last year, when his shock move to BMW to ride the S1000RR left some questioning the logic behind his decision. However, victories in the main Superbike and Superstock races at the North West 200 and a clean sweep of the 1000cc races at the TT vindicated his choice.
“It’s a bit like last year and the new R1 is something different again. I don’t make life easy for myself and I went with Honda, then BMW and now Yamaha – I’m keen to prove I can ride motorbikes,” Dunlop added. “No-one wanted the BMW last year, but now everyone wants one.”
The Ulster star, who will run his own Superstock and Supersport machines under the MD Racing banner, remains as fired up as ever to bag some more silverware at the TT and warned his rivals he is ‘ready to do my job’.
“I love winning and the buzz I get from it; I’m passionate about it and the TT for me is all about winning,” said Dunlop, who was speaking at the launch of the 2015 Isle of Man TT at the Villa Marina in Douglas on Tuesday.
“I’ll be running my own outfit again, my own ’stock bike and Supersport bike and I’m really excited to build something fresh. I’m lucky to have such loyal sponsors behind me as well.
“I’m feeling fit and strong and hungry as ever and I’m ready to do my job. Everybody hates me but I do my stuff on the track and I work hard at it. When you’re out there riding your own motorbike at your best and it’s all going well, it’s the best feeling in the world.”
Meanwhile, Yorkshire’s Ian Hutchinson will ride a factory-backed MV Agusta in the Supersport class this year.
Hutchinson has already penned a deal with Paul Bird to ride Kawasaki machinery in the Superbike and Superstock races and has now added an F3 675 to his line-up after agreeing terms with Tsingtao Racing.
The Bingley man famously won five races in a week at the TT in 2010 but has been battling to return to the same competitive level following a serious crash at the end of his record-breaking season.