FIRST PIC: Michael Dunlop tests Hawk Racing/Buildbase BMW in Spain

Michael Dunlop on the Hawk Racing/Buildbase BMW S1000RR during pre-season testing at Cartagena in Spain. PICTURE: JON JESSOP PHOTOGRAPHY.

Michael Dunlop on the Hawk Racing/Buildbase BMW S1000RR during pre-season testing at Cartagena in Spain. PICTURE: JON JESSOP PHOTOGRAPHY.

Michael Dunlop has tested the Hawk Racing/Buildbase BMW S1000RR Superbike for the first time this season on track at Cartagena in Spain.

The 26-year-old Ballymoney rider has signed for Stuart and Steve Hicken’s team to contest the big international road races in 2016 with the ultimate goal of reclaiming the top spot at the Isle of Man TT, where he will be bidding to add to his haul of 11 victories around the legendary Mountain Course.

Dunlop has joined Buildbase’s British Superbike pairing of Richard Cooper and Lee Jackson for the annual shakedown plus a host of leading BSB riders, including the Tyco BMW team and Paul Bird’s Be Wiser Ducati squad.

During a tumultuous year in 2015, Dunlop parted company from Milwaukee Yamaha at the TT to ride the Buildbase BMW Superbike instead – only two days before the opening Superbike race.

In spite of little practice time on the S1000RR, he was running in podium contention until he crashed out of third place on the final lap of the RST Superbike event, tangling with a slower rider at The Nook.

Severely beaten up, he ploughed on regardless during race week to clinch a hard-earned runner-up finish in the Superstock TT behind Yorkshireman Ian Hutchinson and left his mark in the blue riband Senior, lapping at 132.515mph on his way to fifth place as he became the second fastest TT rider ever behind race winner John McGuinness (132.701mph).

After signing for Hawk Racing last month, Dunlop warned that he is ‘coming back to win again’ at the TT, where he notched a Superbike, Superstock and Senior treble on BMW S1000RR machinery in 2014.

He is set to compete in the first rounds of the MCE British Superbike Championship at Silverstone from April 9-10 and Oulton Park from May 1-2, weeks before warming up for the TT at the North West 200.

William Dunlop is also clocking up some miles at Cartagena. The 30-year-old will ride a Yamaha Superbike and Supersport machine this year for CD Racing plus an MSS Kawasaki ZX-10R Superstock machine, which he has already tested in Spain at Cartagena in January.

The Pro Test, organised by former Honda Britain and Norton Racing team chief Barry Symmons, takes place over four days and concludes on Sunday.