The Ballymoney rider learned his craft on 125cc and 250cc machines and was a prolific winner at the national and international road races before he was forced to curtail his exploits on the thoroughbred race bikes, switching his focus instead to the Supersport and Superbike machines.
Dunlop endured a topsy-turvy 2016 after setting up his own team on the eve of the North West 200 in May and had little time to adapt to his new Yamaha R1 Superbike, which he only sat on for the first time at the Isle of Man TT.
With the main roads season all but over barring this weekend’s Gold Cup showpiece at the Oliver’s Mount circuit in north Yorkshire, he is now looking forward to riding without any pressure on 125cc and 250cc Honda machinery supplied by fellow racer Justin Waring.
“I’m going for a bit of fun to be honest and after the year I’ve had, I just want to forget about it and have some fun on the wee bikes,” Dunlop said.
“Gary’s [Dunlop] going over too so I thought I’d jump in with him and go for a bit of a jolly. It’ll probably be my last race this year although I had thought about riding the 600 at the Sunflower, but I don’t know yet if I’ll do it or not.”
Dunlop has yet to sit down and discuss his plans for 2017 although he did confirm he would continue riding in the Supersport class next season for Ivan Curran.
He is due to participate in the parade laps at Oliver’s Mount on Sunday marking the 70th anniversary of the event, when he will represent his late father Robert. Gary Dunlop will also join the parade, representing his father Joey.
The line-up also includes John McGuinness, Giacomo Agostini, Jim Redman, Phil Read, Steve Parrish, Mick Grant and Chas Mortimer.
Michael Dunlop will also be in action this weekend as he goes up against reigning Gold Cup champion Dean Harrison plus Ivan Lintin and Dan Kneen.