It could be a big weekend for the Dunlop brothers with William expected to announce his plans on Sunday during TT Day at Motorcycle Live in Birmingham’s NEC but, as usual, his brother Michael is juggling a number of ideas before making a solid commitment — although a deal with Honda seems to be the most popular choice.
The three-time TT winner is currently running the length and breadth of England meeting sponsors and manufacturers as he looks to secure the best possible outcome, that he hopes will take him to a coveted Senior TT win next June, as he explained.
“Yeah I’m hoping to get it all gathered up this week. I’ve spoken to both Yamaha and Honda and to be honest the Honda deal is the nearest to getting sorted. Despite what people say, I haven’t signed on the dotted line as yet, as I’ve meetings to conclude today and tomorrow,” he added.
Dunlop’s deal with Honda will be to join John McGuinness and new signing Michael Rutter in the Honda TT Legends’ set-up for the International North West 200 and Isle of Man TT on a Superbike.
Although he didn’t elaborate on the mechanics of the deal, World Supersport team PTR Honda — when confirmed — will more than likely sweeten the package with a super trick 600cc machine for Dunlop, who has won two TT Supersport races for Yamaha on his privately entered R6.
A machine that he will not be too keen to put on the shelf.
But the question is, will we finally see him come away from his ‘dolly mixture’ set-up with multiple manufacturers to run just one brand in 2013?
“The manufacturers really would like me to be on just one make of bike and, if I’m honest, it’s no bad thing,” he said.
“It’s a disaster running different bikes anyway as you have to ring 10 different people for parts and no one takes you seriously anyway.
“You just don’t get enough help from the right people,” he added.
Joining Honda alongside Rutter and McGuinness is no mean task but, as you would expect from ‘Mickey D’, he’s not fazed by the quality and pedigree of his potential team-mates.
“People have asked me would I not be scared running alongside John and Michael, but the only person that scares me at the TT is myself.
“And if I’m honest the only person that beats me at the TT is myself, so I’ve no problem with them as team-mates,” was the direct and confident reply.
His intake of national road races will also be reviewed in 2013, but local fans can be sure of seeing him at the majority of meetings, with faithful sponsor and confidante Gary Ryan at his side.
“Gary knows how my head works so yes he will be involved and I’ve kept all my other personal sponsors onboard.
“I will cut down on the nationals a bit next season, not because I’m stuck up, but because some of them are a joke.
“This game is hard enough but some of the organisers treat you like a dog.
“And us top lads are not going to put our neck on the line to be treated like that.”