Michael Dunlop will take on a new challenge in 2022 as he spearheads Ducati’s quest for glory at the Isle of Man TT.
Dunlop will ride a factory-backed Panigale V4RR for Paul Bird’s ultra-successful British Superbike team alongside his own MD Racing Supersport and Superstock machinery.
The Ballymoney man will get to grips with the Italian Superbike on the roads for the first time at the North West 200, which takes place from May 10-14.
Dunlop had initially struck a deal to ride the Ducati at the major road races for team boss Bird in 2020 until the calendar was wiped out by the coronavirus pandemic.
He managed a handful of laps on the machine during a pre-season test at Jerez two years ago, but Dunlop will have plenty of mileage under his belt by the time he arrives in Portrush for the North West, with the five-time winner set to participate in the upcoming British Superbike tests.
John Mowatt, PBM Team Co-ordinator, said: “We are delighted to be able to fulfil our promise and commitment to Michael albeit two years later than we had hoped.
“We are thrilled to be contesting the major road races with Michael onboard the PBM Ducati and are hopeful of adding to both his and our considerable list of successes.”
Dunlop has a unique record of winning TT races for six different manufacturers, including Honda, Yamaha, Kawasaki, Suzuki, BMW and Paton. He will now be aiming to add Ducati to that list as he targets victory in the Superbike and Senior races around the legendary Mountain Course this summer.
His uncle, Joey, had a successful association with Paul Bird when he famously won the TT Formula 1 race in 2000 on the factory Honda SP-1.
Michael has also worked with the Penrith-based team in the past, winning the Superstock TT in 2011 on a Kawasaki ZX-10R prepared by PBM.
With 19 victories under his belt, Dunlop is the third most successful TT rider ever behind 26-time winner Joey and England’s John McGuinness (23).
He achieved his most recent victory in 2019 in the Lightweight race on the Paton Supertwin.
Before the TT, Dunlop will have the opportunity to let the Ducati loose on the roads at the North West as he prepares for his main objective of returning to the top step in the premier class on the Isle of Man.
NW200 Event Consultant Mervyn Whyte said: “With the winner of last four Superbike races at the NW200, Glenn Irwin, on a Honda, Alastair Seeley entered on a Yamaha, Peter Hickman aboard a BMW, Dean Harrison Kawasaki-mounted amid a host of others, Michael Dunlop’s Ducati challenge seals the deal in ensuring this year’s NW200 Superbike races will be epic battles.”