Belfast Telegraph

William Dunlop has a TT mission

By Paul Lindsay

Tyco Suzuki's new king 'between the hedges' William Dunlop is looking to carry his current form into the upcoming Isle of Man TT Races after a 20-year drought of Dunlop family Superbike wins was ended at last week's International North West 200.

The 28-year-old Ballymoney man stood on the top step of the most talked about battle on the north coast last Saturday, edging out his brother Michael to record his first-ever international Superbike success. That saw BMW mounted Michael less than impressed with defeat at the hands of his elder sibling.

William, who arrived on the Isle of Man yesterday, now has aspirations of taking his maiden TT victory and believes he couldn't be in a better place, ably supported by current team Tyco Suzuki, as he explained: "Going to the TT now with that wee Suzuki 600, I know I can win on it.

"It's a superb bike and Stewart Johnstone has the thing flying," he added, giving credit to the TAS team's engine building guru and crew chief.

"Yes, we had that win at the North West on the Superbike, but I'm going with an open mind to the TT. I'm just not sure what to expect, but again I know it's a good bike and I'm very comfortable on it. If everything falls into place like the NW200 then who knows what we can do," he smiled.

Speaking of the North West 200 success, William admitted that the Superbike top step took a little time to sink in. He said: "The Superbike win at the North West was a bit of a shock and it didn't quite sink in for a few days afterwards if I'm honest."

Recounting his hard-fought victory over his brother Michael, he added: "I didn't know Michael was coming so strong; then all of a sudden after riding conservatively, I had to ride again in the last part of the lap to beat him."

Once Michael slipped past at Metropole on the final lap, the majority of fans expected William to settle for a safe second. But the new improved William Dunlop, who has added some Mixed Martial Arts into his training programme for this season, was well up for the fight.

Almost laughing as he recalled the final few corners, the modest Ballymoney man said: "The bit that was most impressive for me was having the energy and the desire to ride hard at the end. In the past I've been mentally tired and would have let him go, but I just wasn't prepared to give up."

Much has been made of the Parc fermé exchange of words, with a fired up Michael seemingly unimpressed with having been out-gunned. But William refused to be drawn on the escapade.

"It wouldn't have mattered if it was me or Seeley who had beaten him. He just wasn't pleased. But that's all there is to it," William explained, obviously not wanting to make an issue of the situation.

The Tyco Suzuki man, who has now won 125 and 250GP races at the North West 200 along with Supersport and Superbike wins – making him the only man to do so – concluded: "I'm a lot more relaxed this year, which is the big thing for me.

"The plan is to go to the TT and enjoy racing and if the results come, they come and if they don't, they don't. That's the only way to approach the Isle of Man. I know the boys have put in a big effort for me and that's been a massive confidence boost."

Practice for the 2014 Isle of Man TT races gets under way this Saturday [May 24] with controlled sessions for newcomers. All of the big guns will get their first taste of 2014 TT action on Monday [May 26] from 6.20pm.

The opening race is the six-lap Superbike TT on Saturday May 31 from 11am. It certainly promises to be an exciting couple of weeks ...

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