Northern Ireland's William Dunlop will ride for Halsall Racing in a new venture at the major international road races in 2017.
The announcement ends significant speculation on the future direction that the team would take following Halsall's recent decision to vacate the British Superbike paddock.
Team owner Martin Halsall has been a long-standing passionate and loyal supporter of road racing. A regular attendee at the Isle of Man, the Lancashire-based entrepreneur has always been open about his desire to one day compete with the team across the international circuits at the North West 200, Isle of Man TT and Ulster Grand Prix.
“This has certainly been a personal ambition of mine to make a move towards this discipline of the sport,” he said. “Road racing is a truly unique experience, with so much passion and energy. There has never been a better time to take this step and I am really excited about the prospects ahead.”
No details have been provided on the team's choice of machinery and a further announcement expected in January.
“With no ties to any one manufacturer, this offers the flexibility for us as a privateer team to select the right tools for the job and choose the most suitable bikes for each discipline,” Halsall said.
“Bikes that William feels can give him the best opportunity across each of the classes. He will have whatever he needs for Superbike, Superstock and Supersport. We are being guided by his experience and choice of manufacturer. Our aim is to confirm this fully in the coming weeks and months.”
Ballymoney rider Dunlop will be the sole rider in the team and the 31-year-old is aiming to put his career back on track after a difficult few seasons.
“Martin runs a very strong team and you only have to look at what he has done and achieved on the short circuits to see that he ensures everything is done in the correct way,” he said.
“It's sleek, professional and highly driven. To have the team dedicated to me alone will certainly raise my game. It's the ride that I have been seeking and it's been worth the wait to finally get this agreement in place. We'll be learning a great deal along the way, but I'm confident we can deliver some success in 2017 and I can't wait to get started.”
Dunlop wished to express his thanks to his sponsors, Ivan Curran and Eugene McManus, who stepped in when he parted company from CD Racing prior to the North West 200 this year, supplying him with Yamaha machinery for the remainder of the season.
“This is also an opportunity for me to express my thanks to the loyal supporters and sponsors that have backed me in 2016 and have been extremely positive about the move to Halsall Racing,” he said. “I'd like to thank everyone for their continued support.”
Halsall, meanwhile, admits his maiden foray into road racing will be a major challenge, but it is one that he is relishing.
“This will be a challenge for sure, but I am optimistic about our potential prospects. With our proven ability to operate a leading race team, coupled with William's extensive roads knowledge, we can make this very successful,” he said.
“I know how to build a team and we will be recruiting key individuals with unparalleled experience in road racing to ensure that our package is the best. Our focus and attention will be on William and on him alone. He will have the right infrastructure around him and it will be dedicated to ensuring he has everything he needs to be successful.”
Dunlop is also set to compete in selected Irish national road races next season in addition to the North West, TT and Ulster GP.