Josh Brookes to race NW200 after Michael Dunlop’s shock split from MCE Ducati

Set for a return to the Isle of Man TT with BSB outfit MCE Ducati, Michael Dunlop has instead split from the Paul Bird-led team after just one month together.
Josh Brookes, Ducati British Superbike Silverstone
Josh Brookes, Ducati British Superbike Silverstone

Dunlop, who was also set to take part in the NW200 with MCE Ducati, has now been replaced by BSB rider Josh Brookes. 

Having last competed at the road-racing event in 2014, Brookes will return to the North West 200 looking for better form than what’s currently being shown in British Superbike. 

Brookes and new team-mate Tom Sykes endured a disastrous opening round at Silverstone, so much so that neither rider managed to secure a top ten in either of the three races. 

“Firstly, I’d like to make it clear that I’m not taking anyone else’s ride, I’d never do that,” said Brookes. “But an opportunity has arisen to race at this year’s North West 200 and it’s one I’m very much looking forward to. 

“Every year, I’d have seriously considered doing the roads if the opportunity arose, whether it be the North West 200 or the TT, but it all comes down to finance as there’s a big cost. 

“The MCE Ducati Racing Team had already put the logistics in place so when they was asked if I’d be interested, of course I said yes. 

Josh Brookes Silverstone British Superbike Ducati
Josh Brookes Silverstone British Superbike Ducati

“It was a while ago since I was there in 2014 and as well as setting a new lap record, I felt I should have won that race, so I think I’ve got as good a chance as anyone lining up on the grid so I’m hopeful of winning some races.”

‘Sponsors were let down’ - Dunlop calls MCE Ducati split a ‘nightmare’

While Brookes has had his fair share of road-racing success, it doesn’t compare to that of Dunlop who was signed by the team as its road-racing specialist. 

Dunlop, who is now back against the wall in terms of finding alternative machinery for many of the events planned, said: “It turned into a bit of a nightmare, stuff hasn’t arrived, testing has fallen apart and a lot of my sponsors have been let down a bit.

“We should have been testing last week and it hasn’t happened, so I thought ‘you know what, I’m too old in the tooth for this’. We should have been on it because it’s a brand new motorbike and we needed time.”

Dunlop left furious with the BSB team…

“Racing against these lads that are full-time professionals riding bikes day in, day out, and they want me to rock up at the first race and that be the first time I sat on it – it’s just not practical,” added Dunlop.

Josh Brookes to race NW200 after Michael Dunlop’s shock split from MCE Ducati

“We’re three weeks away, there’s a lot of things to happen before then. I haven’t forgotten how to ride a motorbike and something will come up no doubt.

“We’ll just keep at it and see what happens. The TT has been fantastic with me because I keep coming back with a drama and somewhere along the line I seem to be someone who brings a lot of bad vibes with me, but Paul (Phillips, TT Business Development Manager) has been fantastic with me, he’s understood the situation and where I come from.

“As I said to my boys, if we weren’t smiling we’d be crying. The job was to be right and it hasn’t turned out that way. He’s (Paul Bird) happy enough with that and so am I, and it’s better doing it now rather than half-way through practice week like I have done before,”

Despite the stresses involved and missed opportunity regarding testing, Dunlap will be in action this weekend as he takes part in the Superstock and Supersport classes at Oulton Park.

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