By Kyle White
International road racing star Michael Dunlop's yearning to leave his mark in history is the driving force behind his plans to compete in the Sidecar class at next year's Isle of Man TT races.
The 22-year-old secretly tested a Honda outfit built by five-times TT winner Nick Crowe at Jurby on the Island on Wednesday with Dan Sayle as his passenger and incredibly lapped faster than triple world champion Tim Reeves and Dipash Chauhan on a wet and windy day at the airfield circuit.
Dunlop stressed that he has made no final decision on whether or not he will commit to competing in the class next June, but admitted the chance to become the first rider to win on the Mountain Course on two and three wheels since Freddie Dixon in 1923 was a tempting proposition.
“There is a lot of stuff I need to work out about the whole thing before I decide to do it,” the double TT winner said.
“My top priority is the solo bikes and to try and win a Superbike race at the TT - that's top of the agenda and I don't want to do anything to ruin that.
“Everybody seems to think that it's a done deal and that I'll be racing in a Sidecar at the TT, but I haven't committed to it yet.
“I've got to put my sponsors first and not risk my chances in the solo races, but if I could manage both at the TT I'd love to win the Superbike race and then go out and win a Sidecar race later the same day - that would be something really special, the ultimate dream.
“I do believe I can do it and Dan (Sayle) believes I can do it,” he added.
“It's an honour that Dan would sit in with me if I do go ahead with it because he's a seven-time TT winner.
“To have him in with me when I did the test was probably the main reason I did so well, because Dan is the main man.
“It's a new challenge and it would be special to do something that hasn't been done since 1923.
“When my career is over it would be great to look back and say I won I Sidecar TT and a Superbike race on the same day.
“It would be history.”
Dunlop stunned seasoned Sidecar professionals Crowe, Sayle and Reeves during the behind-closed-doors shakedown at Jurby, setting a best lap of 1m 20secs compared to the top time managed by Reeves and Chauhan of 1m 22.7secs on his debut.
Afterwards, an impressed Reeves said Dunlop's performance would have been good enough to place him on the podium in a British championship race.
“Very impressive,” he said.
“Even though Michael hadn't even sat on a Sidecar before today he got to grips with the different controls and didn't out-brake himself or miss a gear all day.
“On today's showing Michael could be on the podium of a wet British race.”
Dunlop will make a final decision when he returns from the Macau Grand Prix, where he will ride a Kawasaki for Paul Bird Motorsport.