Tyco BMW deal can drive me to further glory, says Dunlop
Michael Dunlop says the time was right to finally join Northern Ireland's Tyco BMW team to challenge for honours at the international road races in 2018.
The Ballymoney man's deal to ride the S1000-RR Superbike at the North West 200, Isle of Man TT and Ulster Grand Prix was confirmed yesterday, bringing an end to weeks of constant speculation over his plans.
He won the Senior TT in 2017 on the Bennetts Suzuki for Stuart and Steve Hicken's Hawk Racing outfit, but Dunlop passed up the chance to continue on the GSX-R1000 for a second year after testing the machine in Spain at the beginning of this month.
The 28-year-old, whose Supersport and Senior double last year increased his win tally at the TT to 15 victories, has held tentative talks with Philip and Hector Neill of TAS Racing in the past.
However, Dunlop said the deal finally fell into place for 2018 following some last-minute discussions over the past few days.
"Tyco and I have spoken many times but nothing ever came of it, this year everything fell into place," he said.
"I think it's a good time for us both to have a go at a partnership.
"I think both can bring something to the table and I'm looking forward to seeing the outcome.
"I'm confident that my own team can do their bit as well with the 600 and Superstock bike, which we are building ourselves, and we have put a lot of effort into having the best bikes below us and the right people around us," Dunlop added.
"I feel good this year and I have ironed out a few small problems I have had with injuries in the past.
"Hopefully we can just go fast now and, if the package is right, I know I'll go fast and that's for sure."
Dunlop is the fastest rider ever to lap the TT course, setting a new outright record on the Hawk Racing BMW in 2016 at almost 134mph. He also made history during the same year, lapping the 37.73-mile Mountain Course in less than 17 minutes for the very first time as he won the Superbike and Senior races.
In 2014, he wrote his name into the history books by winning the Senior TT for BMW Motorrad, clinching the German manufacturer's first victory in the famous race since Georg Meier's triumph in 1939.
It was the icing on the cake of a dominant treble on BMW machinery, with Dunlop also scaling the top step in the Superbike and Superstock races and winning the second Supersport race on his own Honda to wrap up a four-timer.
Dunlop joins Manxman Dan Kneen in the team plus fellow Northern Ireland rider Alastair Seeley, who will race for Tyco BMW at the North West 200 in May. He is set to ride the bike for the first time during a number of upcoming private tests.
Tyco BMW team principal, Philip Neill, admitted the deal with Dunlop had taken considerable time to come to fruition.
"It has taken some time for this to come together and I'm very happy to confirm Michael Dunlop and TAS Racing/Tyco BMW will finally work together in 2018.
"Michael and I have discussed options to work together on various occasions and I honestly believe this is a partnership that simply had to happen at some point.
"Hector and I, together with all the guys at TAS Racing, are excited and looking forward to the challenge," he added.
"We would not be in this position without the support of our partners Tyco and BMW Motorrad and both are extremely happy to reach agreement with Michael for the 2018 season."