Michael Dunlop confirmed to race for Hawk Racing Honda at 2023 IOMTT

Michael Dunlop will race Hawk Racing's Honda CBR1000RR-R Fireblade at the 2023 Isle of Man TT races, his first time with Honda since 2013.

Michael Dunlop, Steve Hicken, Hawk Racing Honda CBR1000RR-R Fireblade

Hawk Racing has announced that Michael Dunlop will be racing for the team at the Isle of Man TT races in 2023, as the team itself switches to Honda machinery. 

The deal will see Dunlop racingHonda Superbike for the first time at the Isle of Man TT races since 2013, although he has partnered with Hawk Racing on many occasions in the past to ride BMWs and Suzukis, and even rode a Honda Superstock bike last year. 

Additionally, Dunlop will continue to race his own MD Racing bikes in the Superstock class.

Hawk’s switch to Honda for 2023 was announced a few weeks ago, and also affects its British Superbike programme, where its Honda CBR1000RR-R Fireblade motorcycles will be ridden by Charlie Nesbitt and Josh Owens. 

The move away from Suzuki, with whom Hawk Racing had been associated since 2017, came as a result of Suzuki’s withdrawal from racing on a generalised, global scale, which in many ways began just after the latest generation GSX-R1000 was launched, when it withdrew from the MXGP World Championship in 2018. Last year, Suzuki’s racing withdrawal advanced, as it departed from MotoGP entirely, and announced it would be pulling back factory support for the Endurance World Championship.

Image credit: NW200 Pacemaker Belfast.

The Honda CBR1000RR-R is going into its fourth year, now, having launched at the end of 2019 and begun its racing activities in 2020. Its successes on all fronts has been limited at the top level. In Superstock trim, it has won the last two National Superstock titles in Britain, and the 2021 Japanese Superstock 1000 class, although its headline success so far is without doubt the Suzuka 8 Hour triumph of 2022.

Michael 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.

“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, said: “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.”

The 2023 Isle of Man TT races are set to run from 29 May to 10 June.

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