By Neil Morrison
The PTR Honda squad have endured a frustrating World Supersport campaign in 2013.
Having lost both Sam Lowes and Jules Cluzel from their rider line-up in the off-season they entered the first round with a five-man squad, blending youth and experience, while hoping to push for championship honours.
Yet a series of misfortunes and injuries blunted lead rider Sheridan Morais' progress and the team's younger recruits, including class rookies Matt Davies and Nacho Perez, have struggled to consistently finish in the points.
Their short circuit misfortunes, however, have been buoyed by a successful road campaign, having supported Michael Dunlop in the Supersport category at the international events.
The year has yielded three international road race wins for the team, including a stunning 600 double at the TT.
spoke with PTR team manager Simon Buckmaster at the Ulster Grand Prix - just before the team announced that Morais would leave the WSS team and be replaced by Danny Webb - and began by talking about the Dunlop partnership...
How did the deal with PTR and Michael Dunlop come together?
Honda Racing supplied the bikes for him to run his own team. With all our work in World Supersport building Hondas - and I know this year has been difficult - but we're the most successful team over the last four years there. So we built the bike for him and then the deal to support him at the road races was between PTR and Michael.
I've known Michael for a few years, I like him, I think he's a very talented and determined guy so it's a pleasure for us to come and work with him at these major road races.
Sometimes he comes across as quite carefree in the media but when you see him ride there isn't any doubting his commitment. How have you found him to work with?
I find him a joy to work with. He's very focussed and has quite a good feel for the bike and he knows what he wants with it. You know he's always giving 100 percent and when we all give 100 percent you know you've done your best and that's all you can ask from anyone.
After he won the two Supersport races at the TT you said you would love to see him test his talent on the world stage. Is there still a possibility of Michael competing in a World Supersport race with PTR in 2013?