William Dunlop will receive the full backing of Lisburn businessman Tim Martin after striking a deal to ride Yamaha machinery across the board in 2018.
Dunlop will compete in the Superbike and Superstock classes on the YZF-R1M under the Temple Golf Club banner and will also ride a new YZF-R6 with additional support from Caffrey International in the Supersport races.
Last year, the Ballymoney man was thrown a lifeline by former Mar-Train team owner Martin after his 2017 plans fell through at the last minute.
Dunlop borrowed Martin’s 1000cc Yamaha machines and after playing catch-up on his rivals for most of the season, he began to hit his stride at the Ulster Grand Prix.
The 32-year-old became the first rider ever to crack the 200mph barrier at Dundrod and was right on the pace on the big Superbike, but a freak injury away from the track forced him to give the showpiece races a miss.
By his own admission, Dunlop has endured a couple of lacklustre and the multiple North West 200 and Ulster GP winner is determined to make amends this year, when a maiden victory at the Isle of Man TT is his top priority.
“The TT is the one I want most and that’s what our year will be built around,” Dunlop said.
“I’ve got the full package this year and although I’ve always had a good Supersport package, over the last two years I have been given competitive big bikes but not the budget to run them properly,” he said.
“Tim stepped in and gave me everything I wanted for the Ulster last year and the bikes were transformed, I wasn’t riding well but was still competing for pole position in qualifying so I knew then what I wanted for 2018.
“To have my team and bikes ready to go in January takes away so much pressure. I’m mentally and physically in better condition than ever and looking forward to going testing,” he added.
“Tim coming back to build the team for me is such a boost of confidence. I’m continuing my Supersport arrangement through Caffrey International as well as bringing my loyal sponsors Bayview Hotel and Henderson Food Machinery along so I have everything I wanted and need to win races.”
Dunlop will contest the opening British Superbike rounds as he builds towards the major international road races.
He will also participate in the annual Pro Test organised by Barry Symmons at Cartagena in Spain.
After spearheading the development of the all-new YZF-R1M throughout 2015, team boss Martin was cruelly denied the opportunity to reap the rewards in 2016 when Dan Kneen was injured at the beginning of the season, ruling him out of the North West and TT.
He took a sabbatical last year, but Martin’s desire to win is burning brighter than ever and in Dunlop, he feels he has a rider capable of beating anyone on his day.
“I have watched William from a distance for years and made no secret of the fact I think he is a natural talent with the potential to beat anyone,” he said.
“I’ve also spent a lot of time developing the R1M without turning the potential into results so the opportunity to put the two together and prove a few people wrong was just too tempting to resist.
“The R1M has been completely revamped since we were last on track and we have put together a good team with everything William asked for,” he added.
“I’m thoroughly looking forward to being back in the paddock and to finally working with William.”