William Dunlop was quickly into his stride as he tested the MSS Colchester Kawasaki ZX-10R Superstock machine for the first time during a test last week at Cartagena in Spain.
Dunlop clocked his fastest ever lap of the circuit despite cool track temperatures as he worked closely with Metzeler Racing Manager and former top racer Jason Griffiths.
The 30-year-old will ride the MSS Kawasaki at the North West 200, Isle of Man TT and Ulster Grand Prix plus the Irish National road races alongside the Chris Dowd-Ivan Curran Racing Yamaha YZF-R1 Superbike and YZF-R6 Supersport machines.
Dunlop, who is also set to contest several British Superstock 1000 rounds on the MSS Kawasaki to complement his road racing programme, admitted he was surprised by his pace on the ZX-10R at such an early stage of his development cycle with the machine.
“It was a really positive test and important to get a good run of track time on what basically started out as a road bike with some suspension on it,” he said.
“I would never have imagined to make my fastest ever laps around Cartagena on such a bike and to do that even with making changes and getting over small issues is a testament to the team.”
Dunlop clocked more than 130 laps at Cartagena last week before returning to Northern Ireland to attend the Cornmarket Motorbike Awards in Belfast on Friday, where he was named the Belleek National Road Racer of the Year in recognition of his title successes in the Superbike and Supersport championships.
He concentrated on working through a selection of engine, chassis and tyre set-ups on the all-new Kawasaki and liaised closely with Metzeler representative Griffiths, who attended the test to supply a range of tyres for evaluation.
As part of MSS’s Team Green technical support, Dunlop also tested the bike in standard trim, providing valuable data for Team Green and Kawasaki Motors UK.
Dunlop added: “Nick [Morgan] and ‘Jeb’ [John Cobbold] have so much experience on what makes the bike work that they made the job easy and enjoyable for me.
“As everyone knows if you’re enjoying riding you go fast.
“It’s quite funny as that was the first time I’d actually properly met Nick. It was also great to have the support of Jason and Metzeler out there, it gives me so much confidence having worked the tyres so hard. I’m happy and looking forward to the next test.”
MSS Performance owner Nick Morgan said Dunlop had surpassed his expectations during the shakedown in Spain.
“I’ll be honest we approached the test not really knowing what to expect as we weren’t looking for an outright fast circuit lap, which is what made the result so satisfying,” he said.
“It exceeded my expectations. We got through so much testing and information while William is so methodical and professional to work with it was a pleasure.
“William had never ridden a ZX-10R so it was acclimatisation but we soon realised that we were into proper testing territory and it was great to see him achieve his fastest ever time round there - perfect.”