William Dunlop gets 'A Head' for the Vauxhall International 2013 North West 20021/02/2013
‘I can’t wait to be barrelling down into Magherabouy on the R1 Yamaha superbike.’ is William Dunlop’s response when he is asked how much he is looking forward to this year’s Vauxhall International North West 200.
It will be the Ballymoney man’s first road race outing on the Milwaukee Tools YZF-R1 Yamaha and he is obviously very excited by the prospect.
‘I have been watching the mechanics build the superbike on Facebook all winter.’ he smiles. ‘As they assemble it the Milwaukee boys post up pictures and now that it’s built I can’t wait to get on it. I am really looking forward to May.’
Before the opening practice session at Portrush on May 14 William will have carried out extensive testing on the 210bhp superbike machine. The 27 year old will travel to Spain on May 5 to take part in a Dunlop tyre test at Albacete.
‘That will be the first time that I get to ride the new bikes and it is really important to put in the miles testing because there is so much new stuff to get used to.’ William explains.
‘The R1 will have a load of electronic gadgets on board that I have never used on the roads before. There is traction control, launch control and the facility to alter the engine braking characteristics for instance. All of that will require some fine tuning before we start to race.’
William will also test the R6 Yamaha bike that he will campaign in the opening rounds of the Motorpoint British Supersport championship. The opening round is at Brands Hatch on April 6 and William wants to be mixing it up with former Supersport champion and arch North West rival Alastair Seeley on the Gearlink Kawasaki. The pair went head to head in both of last year’s 600cc races at Portrush with the local duo sharing a win apiece.
‘With all the pre-season testing and British championship racing I will hopefully be able to come to the roads really bike fit and with the bikes dialled in.’ William explained. ‘I have never had that before.’
It is unlikely that William will have the new superfast German-built R6 Yamaha available to him in Albacete that he will ride at the Vauxhall North West, TT, UGP and in the Irish National road races. The bike is being supplied in a joint deal between Milwaukee and local sponsor CD Racing and William is certain that it will be every bit as competitive as his Superbike machine.
‘It will be as good as it possibly can be.’ he enthused. ‘It probably won’t be ready in time for Spain but I know the R6 inside out so I am not too worried about it. I should just be able to throw my leg over and go for it.’
The Ballymoney man revealed that he may be able to race the R6 at Cookstown as there is no date clash with any British championship round, although the May 5-6 British Supersport race at Oulton will rule him out of this year’s Tandragee 100.
But the winner of the 2012 McKendry Fabrications Supersport race at the North West is clear that his priority for the start of the 2013 season is a double in the Supersport races at this year’s event.
‘Although it is not out of the question that I can win on the big bike I really want to win both the 600cc races this year.’ he says. ‘I got one of them last year and I want to go one better in 2013.’
Event Director Mervyn Whyte MBE is equally thrilled by the prospect of having a new factory supported team on the famous Triangle course.
‘It is great news that we will have William and his team-mate Conor Cummins on the Milwaukee Yamahas at this year’s Vauxhall North West 200.’ he said. ‘They will be one of the top teams on the roads this year and the North West will be their first challenge. William Dunlop knows his way around the Coast road and it would be good to see a local man on the top step of the podium again.’
The new season will also see William sporting a new look with a different helmet design following his switch to American manufacturer, Bell.
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