Michael Dunlop says he expects the Ducati Panigale V4 R he will race at the 2022 Isle of Man TT to be “very different” to anything he has ever competed on as he offers to giving the Italian marque its first win at the event since 1995.
One of the most successful riders to ever compete in the TT, Dunlop is third on the all-time winners list with 19 wins, just seven behind his late legendary uncle Joey, who leads the standings with 26 wins. on the island.
Indeed, as attention heading into this year’s event focuses on heavy favorite Peter Hickman aboard the BMW FHO and Honda’s John McGuinness – who is just three wins away from equaling Joey Dunlop – It’s Dunlop who has enjoyed arguably the most consistent success in recent years, winning at least one race in all but two years between 2009 and 2019.
For 2022, however, Dunlop will embark on an intriguing new project with British Superbike leader Paul Bird Motorsport, which will enter a Ducati Panigale V4 R for the first time.
While Ducati has a rich history at the TT, it’s been 27 years since it won a victory on the island after the manufacturer veered off course by aligning itself with an official entry at the time of its alumni. V-Twin models, which struggled to cope with the stresses brought on by the 37-mile mountain course compared to its inline four rivals.
However, the introduction of the Panigale V4 R has inspired a renewed effort from PBM, which itself returns to the island for the first time since switching from Kawasaki machines.
While Dunlop has yet to test the bike – with its first test coming next week – he foresees the machine has the potential to do something special.
“It will be interesting, once I try, because it’s not something I’ve ridden before,” he told Visordown at a promotional event for kit suppliers Furygan. “I tried everything else, so I can save it.
“We were supposed to go in 2020 but that didn’t happen but I’ve never driven a V4 before. I’m going to ride it this week we were supposed to go to Spain but I think it’s boring so we don’t know where we’re going yet.
While the Panigale V4 R – introduced for racing in 2019 – is renowned for its superior top speed figures in short-course racing, Dunlop is wary that this is entirely beneficial on the high-speed road course.
“It’s all fast now, all we use are more WorldSBK type machines. It doesn’t matter if it’s 5000bhp, the bike is useless if you can’t get it out of the corner.
“Until we race it we won’t understand what the pros and cons will be, but unlike the RSV4 it’s completely different to anything I’ve ridden before, so it will be interesting to find out what it will look like.
“It won’t be a normal inline-four and I expect the characteristics to be very different. The frame is attached to the engine, rather than the engine attached to the frame, so that will play a big role.
Michael Dunlop opts for ‘Super Six’ at TT 2022
A rider who has won victories in all four main TT categories, Dunlop will again be looking for a “Super Six” of wins on the island, but on different machines in each category.
As well as the Ducati in the Superbike/Senior TT races, he will enter a Yamaha R6 under his own banner in the Supersport class and renew his longstanding association with Paton in the Lightweight class as he looks to defend his 2018 victories. and 2019. It will also enter the Superstock category, although the model is yet to be determined.
“We have a Yamaha in the Supersport class, we’re going back to the Paton in the Lightweight class and in the Superstock class, we’re trying to finalize where to go but we’re trying to find support.
“Hopefully by next week we’ll have some sponsors, but we’re going to build something, we don’t know what yet. The three bikes will however ride under my banner.
“Superbike is a breed of its own, it doesn’t matter if you ride the same Superstock. I’ve raced the Yamaha in previous years, the Paton which I know well and they take care of it which is a weight on my shoulders .