North West 200: Michael Dunlop ready to 'dig deep' for success

Michael Dunlop in action on his Tyco BMW at the 2018 North West 200
Michael Dunlop in action on his Tyco BMW at the 2018 North West 200

Michael Dunlop says he "intends to be back fitter and faster than he ever was" for the 2019 road racing season.

Dunlop sat out the second half of last season following the death of his brother William in a crash at the Skerries races at the start of July.

He will ride a Tyco BMW Superbike and his own MD Racing machines this year.

"It's been a challenging time but it's good to be back. Getting some track time is key and we'll need to dig deep to get some wins," said Dunlop.

"The Dunlop name has always been big into motorbikes and I can't get away from it. It's been good in one hand and bad on the other but we've always been road racers through and through," added the 29-year-old.

Dunlop has opted to remain with the TAS racing-run BMW outfit for a second season in a row, having won the Superbike TT with the Moneymore-based team in 2018.

Pre-season preparation

"I'm staying with BMW and they have a brand new S1000RR. The boys are working really hard to get it ready and my own team are building the Superstock and Supersport bikes," said the Ballymoney rider, who is currently testing in Cartagena in Spain.

"We were late in getting going last year so we need to get some track time.

"The Tyco lads do a great job on the Superbike, which takes a lot of work and financial commitment.

"A lot of my career wins have been on my own bikes - that's a nice feather in my cap - it's stressful sometimes, trying to keep all the sponsors happy, but 12 of my 18 TT wins have come on my own bikes and some of those with my own engines."

Dunlop took the last of his five North West wins to date in the first Superbike race in 2016 and he is determined to add to that tally in May.

"Last year at the North West I didn't get enough track time. We just blew a hole in the tyre in the last Superbike race but we hung in there.

"With more track time success is definitely possible - I'll definitely be hanging it out and I'll push to whatever it takes to win.

"I've got a couple of personal goals in my head and I want to fulfil them. Nobody will be more determined than me."