Micahel Dunlop is relishing the opportunity to add to his 11 Isle of Man TT wins as he embarks on a new challenge this season.
The 25-year-old, who made history last June by becoming the first rider ever to record successive four-timers on the Mountain Course, opted for Yamaha as his weapon of choice this year and has given the R1 a big thumbs-up following a test at Alcarras in Spain last week.
“I was really impressed with the R1 ’stock bike in Spain,” said Dunlop.
“It looks quite tiny and small but when you get on it, it feels big. We turned the key and away we went and we were able to do whatever we wanted to do with the bike.
“I felt comfortable on it and the bike went where I wanted it to; I’m really looking forward to the Superbike now.”
Dunlop is taking on a similar task to the one he faced last year, when his shock move to BMW to ride the S1000RR left some questioning the logic behind his decision. However, victories in the main Superbike and Superstock races at the North West 200 and a clean sweep of the 1000cc races at the TT vindicated his choice.
“It’s a bit like last year and the new R1 is something different again. I don’t make life easy for myself and I went with Honda, then BMW and now Yamaha – I’m keen to prove I can ride motorbikes,” Dunlop added. “No-one wanted the BMW last year, but now everyone wants one.”
The Ulster star, who will run his own Superstock and Supersport machines under the MD Racing banner, remains as fired up as ever to bag some more silverware at the TT and warned his rivals he is ‘ready to do my job’.
“I love winning and the buzz I get from it; I’m passionate about it and the TT for me is all about winning,” said Dunlop, who was speaking at the launch of the 2015 Isle of Man TT at the Villa Marina in Douglas on Tuesday.
“I’ll be running my own outfit again, my own ’stock bike and Supersport bike and I’m really excited to build something fresh. I’m lucky to have such loyal sponsors behind me as well.
“I’m feeling fit and strong and hungry as ever and I’m ready to do my job. Everybody hates me but I do my stuff on the track and I work hard at it. When you’re out there riding your own motorbike at your best and it’s all going well, it’s the best feeling in the world.”
Meanwhile, reigning Irish roads Superbike champion Dan Kneen has tied up a coveted deal with Clive Padgett’s highly regarded Honda team for the international road races in 2015.
The Braddan man had been left high and dry after his proposed move to Ballymoney team Millsport Racing to compete on Suzuki machinery fell through in February.
However, Kneen has landed one of international road racing’s plum rides in Padgett’s slickly run squad and the quiet Isle of Man rider intends to make the most of a golden opportunity to build on his results last year, which included three top-eight finishes in the Superbike, Superstock and Supersport TT races.
“I’ve gone from having nothing to securing a ride with one of the best teams in the paddock in a short space of time,” said Kneen.
“I can’t thank Clive enough for giving me this opportunity and I am really excited about getting the chance to work with him and his crew.
“It’s one of those teams that you always look at when you are coming through the ranks, hoping that one day you might get the chance to ride for them, and my chance has come and I intend to take it with both hands,” added Kneen.