Honda TT Legends team manager Neil Tuxworth has backed Michael Dunlop to eventually succeed John McGuinness as the Isle of Man TT's number one rider.
Dunlop joins 19-times TT winner McGuinness and Michael Rutter in the official Honda roads team this season and is being tipped to go close in his pursuit of a debut victory in the Superbike and Senior races on the Mountain circuit this summer.
The Northern Ireland rider has also been given the nod to replace Cameron Donald in Honda's Endurance World Championship line-up after impressing Tuxworth during two tests at Mireval in France and Albacete in Spain.
McGuinness remains the man to beat at the TT on a Superbike, but Tuxworth believes he has found the right rider to one day take over from the Morecambe star.
“Obviously we're very pleased to have the services of Michael Dunlop and to have him on board with us,” said Tuxworth.
“We've worked obviously heavily in the past with his uncle Joey Dunlop and the Dunlop name is synonymous with the TT, which features heavily in the programme we're doing.
“Not only that, Michael Dunlop – although only a very young rider – has already won three TTs and we see him as the future of the Isle of Man TT.
“No disrespect to John McGuinness or to Michael Rutter, but they are in their 40s now and they can't keep going on forever,” he added.
“We need to be looking at younger blood to come in and replace them eventually and this is the reason we're looking at Michael.”
Dunlop has already won three TT races before his 24th birthday with a brace in the Supersport class and a breakthrough win in the Superstock race in 2011.
All that is missing is a blue riband success, but the Ballymoney rider has now been handed his best chance of usurping McGuinness and the scene is set for a thrilling showdown in June.