TOP ROADS RACERS GATECRASH BSB TEST
The Cartagena test also featured some of the top names from the betweenthe-hedges scene in action for the first time in 2016. Michael Dunlop and Ian Hutchinson were having outings on their Buildbase Hawk and Tyco BMW S1000RR superbikes, and last year’s Ulster and Macau Grand Prix winner Peter Hickman was testing the JG Speedfit Kawasaki ZX-10R.
Dunlop was probably the busiest man on track in Spain, completing over 240 laps on his 2016 stocker and superbike S1000RRS.
“We just keep floating around,” a relaxed and smiling Dunlop said.
“Both of these 2016 BMWS are different from the bikes I have ridden before and they seem to be grand. We haven’t just dialled them in to the last wee bit we want but we are making sure everything is running right before we start pushing.”
Unlike Hutchy and Hickman, who have switched manufacturers during the winter, Dunlop will be on a BMW for a third season. Does this give him an advantage for 2016? “The motor, suspension and electronics are all different from what we have been on before,” he says. “Even within the Buildbase team the guys are riding different bikes from me. It is a BMW but we have made a lot of changes.”
The Cartagena outing and the tests Dunlop will take in ahead of his appearance in the first two BSB rounds means he is scheduled to be on track a lot more than he has previously managed at the start of a new season. In addition, Dunlop has added experienced spannerman, Graham Parker, who has worked in the pitbox of 13 TT winners, to his crew for 2016. Does this signal a more methodical approach than usual?
“There were obviously bits and pieces that needed sorting,” the Ballymoney man agrees. “Realistically in the first TT superbike race we lost 25 seconds in the pits and we were only down 20 seconds on the road. You can’t look away from that, those are the facts and you can’t laugh at it and say we will forget about it. That is another victory that could have been on the cards and I am there to win races. We need to sort that to make sure we don’t get into that position again.”
Dunlop and Ian Hutchinson are on 11 wins apiece at the TT and one of the most mouthwatering prospects of 2016 will be the battle between the BMW riders. “Unless I had a problem with the bike I stayed out there as long as I could to get time on the bikes,” Hutchy said after testing his stock and superbike-spec Tyco-liveried BMW S1000RRS.
‘ Thank goodness
we sorted the chatter before my
teeth fell out!’