Michael Dunlop sets sights on first Ducati win at Isle of Man TT since 1995

Michael Dunlop expects a very different challenge at the 2022 Isle of Man TT as he bids to land a first win for Ducati at the event since 1995

Michael Dunlop - PBM Ducati Panigale V4 R

Michael Dunlop says he is fully expecting the Ducati Panigale V4 R he will race at the 2022 Isle of Man TT to be ‘very different’ to anything he has competed on before as he bids to give the Italian marque its first win at the event since 1995.

One of the most successful riders to have ever competed at the TT, Dunlop sits third on the all-time winners’ list with 19 victories, just seven shy of his late legendary uncle Joey, who tops the table with 26 successes on the island.

Indeed, while attention in the run up to this year’s event is focused on hot favourite Peter Hickman aboard the FHO BMW and Honda’s John McGuinness - who is just three victories short of pulling level with Joey Dunlop - it is Dunlop who has arguably enjoyed the most consistent success in recent years, winning at least one race in all but two years between 2009 and 2019.

For 2022, however, Dunlop will embark on an intriguing new project with leading British Superbike outfit Paul Bird Motorsport, which will enter a Ducati Panigale V4 R for the first time.

While Ducati has a rich history at the TT, it has been 27 years since it took a victory on the island after the manufacturer has largely swerved aligning itself with an official entry during the era of its erstwhile V-Twin models, which struggled to cope with the stresses brought on by the 37-mile Mountain Course relative to its inline-four rivals.

However, the introduction of the Panigale V4 R has inspired a renewed effort from PBM, which itself is returning to the island for the first time since it switched from Kawasaki machinery.

While Dunlop is yet to trial the bike - with his first test set to come in the next week - he anticipates the machine has the potential to do something special.

“It will be interesting, once I get a run on it because it isn’t something I have ridden before,” he told Visordown during a promotional event for kit suppliers Furygan. “I have tried everything else so I will be able to back it up.

“We were supposed to go in 2020 but it didn’t happen, but I haven’t ridden anything like a V4 before. I will be riding it this week, we were supposed to go to Spain but I think it is p***ing so we’re not sure yet where we’re going.”

While the Panigale V4 R - introduced for racing in 2019 - is renowned for its superior top speed figures in short circuit racing, Dunlop is wary about this being entirely beneficial around the high-speed road course.

“Everything is quick now, everything that we’re using is more WorldSBK-type machines. Doesn’t matter if there is 5000hp, the bike is no use if you can’t get it off the turn. 

“Until we ride it we won’t understand what the pros and the cons will be, but unlike the RSV4, it is completely different to anything I have ridden before so it’ll be interesting to find out what it’ll be like.

“It won’t be a normal inline-four and I expect the characteristics to be very different. The frame is attached to the engine, rather than the engine attached to the frame so that will play a big part of it.”

Michael Dunlop goes for ‘Super Six’ at 2022 TT

A rider that has scored wins in all four main classes at the TT, Dunlop will again go for a ‘Super Six’ of victories on the island, albeit aboard different machines in each category.

As well as the Ducati in the Superbike/Senior TT races, he will enter a Yamaha R6 under his own banner in the Supersport class and renew his long-standing association with Paton in the Lightweight class as he looks to defend his wins from 2018 and 2019. He will also enter the Superstock category, though the model is yet to be determined.

“We have a Yamaha in the Supersport class, we’re going back to the Paton in the Lightweight and in the Superstock class were are trying to finalise where to go but we’re trying to find a backer. 

“Hopefully within the next week we will get a couple of sponsors on, but we will build something, we’re just not sure what yet. The three bikes will be run under my banner though.

“The Superbike is a breed of its own, no matter if you are riding the same Superstock. I’ve run the Yamaha in previous years, the Paton I know well and they look after it, which is a weight off my shoulders.”