Michael Dunlop and Hawk Racing will resume their partnership at this year’s Isle of Man TT Races.
21-time race winner Michael Dunlop will be campaigning the team’s new Honda CBR1000RR-R Fireblade in the six-lap Superbike and Senior TT Races, the first time he has ridden a Honda in the headline Superbike and Senior Races since 2013.
In recent years, Dunlop has ridden either BMW or Suzuki machinery in the 1000cc races. The Hawk Racing team have run the Suzuki GSX-R1000R for the last six years but recently announced a switch to the Honda brand for their British Superbike Championship campaign, and their TT plans have followed suit.
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The Hawk-Dunlop partnership began in 2014 with a resounding Superbike-Senior double with BMW, giving the manufacturer their first Senior Race victory in 75 years.
The Hicken family then stepped in during TT 2015 after Dunlop split from the Milwaukee Yamaha team part way through qualifying week, going on to take a second-place finish in that year’s Superstock Race.
The combination was back in 2016 with another Superbike-Senior double when Dunlop became the first rider to lap the 37.73-mile Mountain Course in under 17 minutes, eventually increasing the outright lap record to 133.962mph on the Hawk Racing BMW S1000RR.
In 2017, a switch was made to Suzuki. The GSX-R1000R was a brand-new model with no pedigree at the TT, but Dunlop and Hawk Racing defied the odds to claim another Senior Race victory.
The pairing then went their separate ways but reunited once again in 2022 after Dunlop’s deal to ride for the PBM Ducati team fell through just weeks before the event. The late change and a lack of testing dented their prospects, but a third place in the opening Superbike Race was a highly-impressive result under the circumstances.
The Dunlop-Hawk Racing pairing will return for 2023.
Michael 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.”
“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.”
Steve Hicken, Hawk Racing Team Manager commented:
“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. 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.”