Belfast Telegraph

Michael Dunlop to continue with Suzuki for Superbikes road races


By Robert Jones

Fifteen-time Isle of Man TT winner Michael Dunlop looks poised to continue riding for Suzuki in the Superbike class at the international road races in 2018.

Dunlop is the last of the big names to officially confirm his plans for the new season but the Ballymoney man yesterday tested the Buildbase Suzuki GSXR-1000 at Cartagena in Spain after months of speculation over his chosen team.

The 28-year-old has been rumoured to have been in talks with Honda and Moneymore's Tyco BMW outfit, but it now seems he will stick with the Suzuki in Stuart and Steve Hicken's Hawk Racing squad. No formal statement has yet been made by the team, although it is clear Suzuki is now his most likely choice of Superbike for the North West 200, Isle of Man TT and Ulster Grand Prix.

Dunlop won the Senior TT on the all-new Suzuki last year to clinch his 15th victory around the Mountain Course.

Last month, he was treated to a special test on the factory MotoGP machine at Sepang in Malaysia.

Dunlop will also ride a Honda prepared by World Supersport team PTR this season as well as his own Superstock machine under the MD Racing banner.

Meanwhile, World Superbike champion Jonathan Rea has revealed he underwent secret surgery prior to the opening round of the series last weekend at Phillip Island in Australia.

The Kawasaki rider finished fifth in race one before pushing double winner Marco Melandri all the way in the second race, losing out on the dash to the line by a few thousandths of a second.

Rea had been feeling unwell during race week but was also recovering from surgery on his right hand following a motocross training accident.

The 31-year-old required six stitches to a finger, although he escaped any tendon damage.

Together with his Kawasaki team, Rea decided not to mention the injury, but he later took to Instagram to thank surgeon Jordi Font, who carried out the operation at the Tres Torres Clinic in Barcelona.

Surgery on his hand was carried out on February 4 - three weeks before the opening race weekend of the season.

However, Rea was forced to spend 10 days recovering in order for the wound to heal and upon arrival at the Phillip Island circuit, he made frequent visits to the Clinica Mobile in between testing and the first race.

The three-time world champion is third in the standings following round one with 31 points, 19 behind Ducati rider Melandri.

Thailand hosts the next round at the Chang circuit from March 23 to 25.

Belfast Telegraph

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