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Eazi Grip

Michael Dunlop is confirmed to ride for Hawk Racing Honda at the 2023 IOM TT

Dunlop will compete on the new CBR1000RR-R Fireblade as he continues his long-standing association with Stuart and Steve Hicken’s team.

He is also set to ride the Hawk Honda at the North West 200 if the event goes ahead in May amid the current insurance crisis affecting the sport in Northern Ireland.

The Ballymoney man is the third most successful rider ever around the Mountain Course at the TT with 21 victories, only two behind John McGuinness and five behind his uncle Joey.

Dunlop previously rode Honda machinery in the Superbike and Senior races at the TT for the official Legends team in 2013, when he claimed his maiden success in the Superbike race before finishing second behind McGuinness in the Senior.

Looking ahead to the TT, Dunlop said: “It’s good to get my plans sorted in plenty of time this year.

“You only have to look at the other boys to see how important it is to be working with a team you’re familiar with and to be up to speed well before you even get to the TT.

“The pace is so high right now, you’ve got to be right at the top of your game from the get go,” added Dunlop, who will also make selected wildcard appearances in the British Superbike Championship.

“In truth, preparations for last year were not what they should have been. Steve and the boys came in to dig me out of a hole at the last minute but we still managed a good result.

“Before then [in 2019] I was still struggling quite bad with [a wrist] injury, so this year will be the first time in a long while where I’m both fully fit and I’m on a bike I’m set with.

It’s good, I’m excited for it and I think we can put on a good show.”

Dunlop is also expected to ride his own Honda Fireblade in the Superstock class, as he did in 2022.

He was due to ride a Ducati Panigale V4R last year at the TT for Paul Bird’s team before pulling out of the deal only a few weeks before the start of the road racing season.

Dunlop was then thrown a lifeline by Hawk Racing to ride a Suzuki GSX-R1000R and finished on the podium in third in the Superbike TT.

The 33-year-old’s last triumph in the blue riband class at the TT was achieved in 2018 when he won the Superbike race under difficult circumstances following the tragic death of his Tyco BMW team-mate, Dan Kneen, in practice.

Last year, Dunlop won both Supersport races on his Carl Cox-backed MD Racing Yamaha R6, setting a new outright lap record in the first race at 129.47mph.

Steve Hicken, Hawk Racing team manager, said he believes the Honda Fireblade is the best package for the TT this year.

“We’ve enjoyed a lot of success with Michael over the years including the podium we managed last year, despite the challenge we faced in getting him a bike ready at the very last minute,” he said.

“Fortunately, we’ve a little more time to prepare this year and it’ll be good to actually go testing this time.

“The Honda is new to us and new to Michael, but we both believe it’s the best bike to be on right now.

“It’s also not the first time we’ve worked with him with a new bike, and if we can carry on with that previous run of form in these circumstances then we’ll be in a good place.”

The Hawk Racing team will also run Honda machinery in the British Superbike Championship this year with Charlie Nesbitt and Josh Owens after six seasons with Suzuki.

Posted on Thursday, March 2nd, 2023 in News

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