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McGuinness to make TT return riding for Dunlop

 

By David Thompson

John McGuinness will make his return to the Supersport class at the Isle of Man TT this year after joining Michael Dunlop's MD Racing team.

Morecambe man McGuinness missed the Mountain Course festival last year due to injuries sustained in a crash at the North West 200.

The 23-time TT winner has signed for Norton to contest the Superbike and Senior races and at the official launch of the 2018 Tourist Trophy races yesterday, it was announced that McGuinness and Dunlop will team up for the Monster Energy Supersport events in June.

The 45-year-old will ride a Honda CBR600RR alongside Dunlop, and McGuinness said he had no hesitation in striking a deal with the Ballymoney man.

"I'm excited to be riding Michael's bike at this year's TT. It's started off as a bit of a joke conversation between us both and has developed into him going off and building me a bike," said McGuinness.

"I'm a big fan of Michael's both as a rider but also for what he has done in terms of running his own teams and winning races out the back of his van against the factory teams over the years.

"The Dunlop name means so much to TT fans and as a fan myself, I can't wait to represent that name at this year's event," he added.

"We've won 38 TT races between us so together we know what needs to be done and I am sure we will be right at the sharp end."

McGuinness is a former winner in the Supersport class, chalking up wins in both 2005 and 2006.

Dunlop is the outright 600cc lap record holder, lapping at 128.677mph in 2013, when he won both Supersport races on a Honda. He won the only Supersport race held last year on a Yamaha - his 14th win of 15 victories at the TT.

The 28-year-old, who is also the outright lap record holder for the Mountain Course at 133.962mph, said having McGuinness on board was a big boost for the profile of his MD Racing team.

"I hadn't ever really planned on building another bike, but when John started talking to me about it, I thought it was a great idea and I couldn't really say no.

"It's good for me, it's good for my team and no matter who you are, the man has won 23 TT races so there is always going to be something that can be learnt by having him working alongside you," said Dunlop, who has still to make an official announcement on his plans for the Superbike class this year after turning down the chance to continue on the Hawk Racing Suzuki.

"People don't see him as a 600cc rider, but he's won races and had lots of podium finishes on a 600cc bike and I will give him a bike capable of winning on."

Meanwhile, Ryan Farquhar has unveiled a formidable four-man team for the Lightweight race at the TT, featuring McGuinness, Peter Hickman, top Irish rider Derek McGee and former Moto3 GP rider Danny Webb.

The quartet will ride identically-prepared KMR/IEG Kawasaki machines for the Dungannon man, who won the first Lightweight Supertwin race at the TT in 2012.

Farquhar, who hasn't raced since he was critically injured in a crash at the North West 200 in 2016, said: "Over the years I've joked with John many times about riding one of my bikes but with his Honda contract it was never going to materialise.

"He has moved on from Honda and he sees the twin as giving him a realistic chance of getting back on the top step of the podium.

"For me, as a privateer running a small team, I am over the moon to have him and Peter Hickman on KMR/IEG Kawasakis."

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