SUZUKI’S SUPPORT ‘AS FACTORY AS FACTORY CAN BE’
For Steve Hicken, acquiring Michael Dunlop’s services for 2017 is the final piece in his team’s Suzuki plans.
Experienced team bosses like Honda’s Neil Tuxworth, PBM’S Paul Bird and Shaun Muir of Milwaukee have tried and failed to harness the mercurial racer’s talents but Dunlop has won four of the last six superbike TT races under Hicken’s tutelage. He has no illusions about the task ahead in 2017 with the new Suzuki though.
“It isn’t going to be easy,” the quietly spoken Leicestershire man says.
“It is a big project and with Michael on board it is expected that we will win at least the two big TT races that we won in 2016. We want to have a good go at the North West too. Yes, he has had issues riding a new bike but Michael has put trust in us and hopefully we can repay it.”
Like Dunlop, Hicken sees Suzuki’s strong support as being a crucial factor. “Factory is a difficult word but we are as factory as factory can be.” he says. “From our experience we have never had support like it. Nick Goodison (the team’s engine-builder and a former crew chief of John Kocinski) has already been to Yoshimura in Japan. As we speak the first engine has just arrived. We have factory camshafts. We have a factory swingarm, a factory linkage, factory subframe, factory tank and factory bodywork.”
All the various set-ups from the Bennetts squad’s British rider, Sylvain Guintoli’s Sepang test, as well as the specs tried by the 8 Hour Moto America team have already been supplied to the Hawk squad.
The team will begin testing with Dunlop at Mallory today before moving to Cartagena and Almeria. The 13-times TT winner will also take part in the first BSB test at Donington and ride in the opening round of the series. Hicken will consider testing at non-BSB events to run the Suzuki on the Dunlops the team uses on the roads.
‘Yes he has had issues riding a new bike but Michael has put trust in us’
Great expectations – Dunlop with team boss Steve Hicken