Posted on Leave a comment

IAM RoadSmart’s skills days are back

IAM RoadSmart’s renowned Skills Days, which allow riders to learn handling skills from real experts while riding their own motorbikes on race tracks across the country, are back for 2018.

Taking place at Thruxton in Hampshire and Knockhill in Scotland during the summer and autumn, the sessions are open to the public – and allow a rare chance to learn about handling and precision driving on a world class racing circuit, and how to use those skills to ride with safety and enjoyment on public roads.

Riders will either work one-to-one with an instructor, or as part of a small group, and will be given the opportunity to fully understand what their car or motorbike is capable of.

Skills you will have the chance to develop include:

  • Entry, apex and exit points, how they vary from road to circuit, how we use them and where we should position for view, stability and progress
  • Where to brake, when and how much to brake, how it feels in an emergency. Most people have never used their brakes to their full potential – you will on a Skills Day!
  • Controlled, progressive, smooth cornering
  • Gear selection and how to decide which is the most appropriate gear for the circumstances
  • How to use the accelerator or throttle to add stability to the car or motorcycle when cornering

The 2018 schedule for Skills Days for bikes is as follows:

Knockhill

  • July 30th

Thruxton

  • May 2nd
  • June 11th: July 11th: Bikes Ladies Day (this session led by IAM RoadSmart Rider Ambassador and professional bike, car and sidecar racer Maria Costello, who will be giving personal tuition to all attending on the day);
  • June 25th
  • August 16th
  • September 11th

Motorcycle Skills Days are £149 each (full day), car Skills Days £135 each (half day).

Sarah Sillars, IAM RoadSmart Chief Executive Officer, said:

“Drivers and riders rarely get to understand and explore what their car or bike is capable of – and what they are not capable of. Our Skills Days are the perfect chance to enjoy the art and the fun of driving and riding well – and translating those skills into something that will make driving and riding a pleasure rather than a chore.”

 

Posted on

A change of path

A petition has been launched calling for motorcycle and scooter routes to be added to Google Maps in a response to the needs of 1.25 million British bikers.

The platform has a facility for travel by car, train, bicycle and even plane but with no time estimates for motorcycle journeys, leading motorcycle insurance broker, Carole Nash, believes that bikers have been left overlooked by Google.

With studies revealing motorcycle travel within major European cities can be up to two-thirds quicker than the same route by car [2], the Carole Nash petition suggests that journey time estimates should be changed for those travelling by powered two-wheelers.

Rebecca Donohue, Head of Marketing at Carole Nash, said: “Google Maps is a useful tool for so many travellers, but it is baffling that motorcycle routes are not included within the service. With so many modes of transport already available, it seems like the logical next step for biking to be introduced too.”

A study from Transport and Mobility Leuven revealed that if just 10% of cars on the road were replaced by bikes, this would reduce congestion for all road users by 40% [3]. By improving the tools available to bikers, Carole Nash believe that this will benefit road users as a whole.

Rebecca Donohue adds: “We aim to provide motorcyclists with the best possible service and we think that campaigning for a tool that would help British bikers is another great way to do this. It isn’t just bikers who would benefit though – research has clearly shown how assisting bikers is to the advantage of cars, lorries and buses too.”

Motorcycle Industry Association (MCIA) CEO Tony Campbell says: “Government records show the number of people getting onto motorcycles and scooters has increased by 74% since 1996, so MCIA fully supports the call for Google Maps to introduce powered two-wheeler journey times.

“Car journey times just aren’t accurate for riders of powered two-wheelers as they cut through rush hour congestion in the time you would expect to move in free-flowing traffic. This has been confirmed through a series of City Challenges in many European cities, including several in the UK.”

Google has started initial trials of motorcycle routes in India, but there is currently no indication of whether the tool will be introduced to the UK or when British bikers might expect to benefit from the full implementation of motorcycle routes within Google’s mapping feature.

The petition also has the backing of British Superbike star Leon Haslam and record-breaking World Superbike champion Jonathan Rea. To view and sign the petition, visit: https://www.carolenash.com/insidebikes/news/carole-nash-launches-petition-motorbike-routes-added-google-maps/  

 

Posted on Leave a comment

The Chieftain Elite in a hand-painted Black Hills Silver

Indian Motorcycle has announced the return of the Chieftain Elite, but this time in a Black Hills Silver colour scheme. The ultra-premium bagger is hand-painted and comes with top-of-the-line amenities for the rider who demands the best of the best.

The focal point is the stunning paint scheme – a high-flake Black Hills Silver colour. As the name suggests, the paint was inspired by the silver mines in the Black Hills of South Dakota, which is near to Spearfish, where Indian Motorcycle’s custom paint facility is located.

A team of Indian Motorcycle experts mask the bodywork, lay the graphics and hand-spray each Chieftain Elite with each one taking 25 hours due to the time-intensive, painstaking processes that are completed by hand. Incredibly, no two bikes will look the same due to the level of human touch involved. There’s no question that this bold, one-of-a-kind bike will stand out in any crowd.

Reid Wilson, Senior Director – Marketing and Product Planning for Indian Motorcycle says: “Whether cruising around the city or touring on country back roads, the Chieftain Elite delivers on its promise of being the best bagger that money can buy. This bike was born to turn heads and provide an unmatched riding experience with all of the premium amenities it includes.”

The 2018 Chieftain Elite has a commanding stance from its 19-inch, 10-spoke, contrast-cut front wheel and is equipped with premium features, including a 200-watt premium audio system, a Pathfinder LED headlight and driving lights, a push-button power flare windshield, billet aluminium rider and passenger floorboards and genuine leather seats.

New for this year’s Chieftain Elite are pinnacle mirrors and updated, smaller hand controls for improved ergonomics.

A host of other features come standard, including Ride Command® – the largest, fastest, most customisable infotainment system on two wheels. The seven-inch, glove-compatible touchscreen features turn-by-turn navigation, customizable rider information screens and Bluetooth® compatibility.

The Chieftain Elite also features ABS, cruise control, tyre pressure monitoring, remote-locking saddlebags and keyless ignition.

At the heart of this bike is the Thunderstroke 111 engine, an award-winning American V-Twin that delivers a monstrous 119 ft-lb of torque and power to spare in every gear.

Colour-matched accessories are also available for riders who want extra protection, style and storage, including a Quick Release Trunk, Hard Lower Fairings and a Valanced Front Fender.

The Chieftain Elite is a strong addition to Indian Motorcycle’s iconic line-up. Only a limited number of these motorcycles will be built.

 

Posted on Leave a comment

Pedrosa positive, Marquez “very happy” after the ThaiTest

“We leave with positive feelings after the first time at this track.” So says Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda Team) after the end of track action at Buriram, with the ‘Little Samurai’ having topped the timesheets with an emphatic final push. The fastest ever lap of the track will now remain Pedrosa’s 1:29.781 until the Thai GP in October – and the Repsol Honda rider made it three from three for Honda at the top.

“It was really tough because with three days here, so many laps and so hot…and we didn’t have many tyres left so we had to manage it in how to plan it,” explains Pedrosa, “and we still have some things to test. But overall, it’s very positive, and the most important thing is that we learned the track.”

Teammate Marquez, meanwhile, was also feeling the heat – and did more than 270 laps over the three days. But likewise, the rider from Cervera is positive – especially about his long run pace.

“I’m very, very happy, we did a lot of laps and we improved in some areas,” says Marquez. “Today I didn’t push for a timeattack, I did a long run. I was very, very happy with the long run. It was consistent and physically I felt well.” There was a small crash for the reigning Champion – at 50km/h, with customary, attempted save – but he shrugged it off. “After more than 200 laps, concentration isn’t the same, I was trying a new front fork and I lost the front but it was just 50km/h!”

One big talking point on Day 3 was a new carbon fibre swingarm at Honda. But it wasn’t new – it had been tested since Valencia.

“Yeah, we tried the carbon swingarm, the one we’ve been using since Valencia,” grins Marquez. “No one asked about it, so we didn’t say anything! But we’re doing back to back tests, we’re not sure because it’s a new prototype and has positives and negatives. Today was the first time I did a long run with it. When the tyre is new maybe we get more grip but when it’s a used tyre, more shaking.”

Pedrosa shared the smile at the accidental undercover prototype, but similarly stressed it’s a work in progress. “We’re trying this style of swingarm which no other manufacturers are using. It’s the first time we’ve gone into that area and we’re still in the process. It’s not easy when you don’t have experience with it but I think it’s positive, learning more about it and getting feelings, feedback and a starting point.”

The final thing the riders were quizzed on was a lot more divisive, however. The new aero-fairing drew a simple “I didn’t like it, it’s not what I expected” from Pedrosa, but Marquez swayed the other way: “The new fairing was quite positive today. I like it, and I was consistent with the used tyre.”

And the final word at the conclusion of the test goes to Marquez, who echoes the thoughts of many…

“Now we analyse here, then forget it and concentrate on Qatar because that’s a track where we suffer more,” he says. “Honestly, after so much testing, I’m just waiting for the races.”

Know the feeling? It’s getting closer! One more test begins in Qatar on the 1st March, before the season finally fires up to race two weeks later. (MotoGP)

Posted on Leave a comment

Crutchlow and Rins take first honours in Thailand

Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda Castrol) topped the first day of testing at Chang International Circuit, taking over from reigning Champion Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) later in the session to set a 1:30.797. Despite setting the fastest lap so far by a MotoGP™ rider at the new venue, the Brit was nevertheless only 0.012 ahead of a late charge from Alex Rins (Team Suzuki Ecstar) by the end of action. Marquez was third, just 0.033 ahead of 2017 Championship rival Andrea Dovizioso.

Weather was hot and edging 40 degrees for some time on Day 1 – with few riders putting in truly “long” runs. But the workload was far from light, with Crutchlow putting in 70 laps despite a crash and that number representative for many on the grid. The Brit was joining third fastest Marquez and his teammate Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda Team) – also a crasher on Friday – on HRC test duty, and all three men were in the top five, which was covered by only two tenths.

Rins’ second place was equally impressive. The Spaniard, going into only his second season and having suffered some problems with injury last year, had good pace throughout most of the day and his late charge looked set to see him take over at the top until his final sector. But it was only 0.012 off Crutchlow, and teammate Andrea Iannone (Team Suzuki Ecstar) made it double delight for Suzuki in the top ten, ninth quickest as the Hamamatsu factory tested, amongst other things, a new exhaust and continued their work on engine configurations.

Dovizioso, meanwhile, took back the honour of top Ducati on Day 1 in Thailand, and was only 0.033 off Marquez. The two men were locked together at the top for some time, before aero began to steal the headlines away from the timesheets. Ducati are expected to have three new aero fairings at Buriram, and Dovizioso tried two of them on Day 1. Chassis updates could also be on the cards for the Borgo Panigale factory in Thailand, aimed at mid-corner improvements– something that would aid Sepang’s fastest Jorge Lorenzo even more. At Buriram on Friday, the five-time Champion was tenth fastest, just over four tenths off Crutchlow.

Danilo Petrucci (Alma Pramac Racing) was another Ducati presence in the top ten as he took P6 on the GP18 on test duty, just ahead of his new teammate Jack Miller. Miller was again a force to be reckoned with and looked settled in – only 0.041 off the Italian ahead of him.

There was also an Italian behind him – Valentino Rossi (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP). On his 39th birthday, the ‘Doctor’ took eighth and was the quickest Yamaha, putting in an impressive 74 laps and topping the lap counter for the Iwata marque. Teammate Maverick Viñales was P11, but only a tenth further back – with the timesheets incredibly close. Incredibly close was also apt for Johann Zarco (Monster Yamaha Tech 3), who was 0.011 off Viñales to take twelfth – and also confirmed that he will be using the 2016 chassis this season.

His new teammate for the Thai test was a new face in the premier class: Hafizh Syahrin, who is riding with Monster Yamaha Tech 3 during the event with a view to replacing Jonas Folger full time in 2018. Syahrin, the first Malaysian in MotoGP™, was within half a second of fellow rookies Xavier Simeon (Reale Avintia Racing) and the slightly faster – despite sitting out the Valencia test last year – Tom Lüthi (EG 0,0 Marc VDS).

The quickest rookie, however, was Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda Idemitsu) once again. The Japanese rider was P17 overall but within nine tenths of the top, with reigning Moto2™ World Champion Franco Morbidelli close behind in P19 but only half a tenth further back. With 20 riders within a second, half a tenth makes its mark.

Tito Rabat (Reale Avintia Racing) was P13 on Day 1 and only 0.002 ahead of Alvaro Bautista (Angel Nieto Team) as the two Independent Team Ducati riders just edged ahead of the Aprilia Racing Team Gresini riders. Aleix Espargaro was P15 for Noale factory Aprilia, and teammate Scott Redding was right behind him and both within nine tenths.

The final rider within a second of the top was Bradley Smith at Red Bull KTM Factory Racing, and the Brit did 67 laps as the Austrian factory get their first glimpse of the newest venue on the calendar. Mika Kallio, KTM test rider, added another 48 despite a crash and brief trip to the Medical Center – but KTM will only be able to field the two men at the #ThaiTest, with Pol Espargaro sidelined through injury but on the road to recovery.

Saturday brings more track time in Thailand and with a day of learning the track and familiarisation under their belts, another chance for the order to get another big shake up. Who will pencil their name in as favourite for when MotoGP™ returns to Thailand to race in October? The second session begins from 9:30am local time (GMT +7), ending at 17:15 before a final quarter of an hour on Saturday is set aside for practice starts. (MotoGP)

Posted on Leave a comment

MT-10 SP, TMAX DX and XMAX 300 win awards

Yamaha Motor are pleased to announce that its MT-10 SP hyper naked sports motorcycle as well as the TMAX DX and XMAX 300 sport scooters have all received the internationally prestigious ‘iF Design Award 2018’*. Each of these awards has been achieved in the product category, with 2018 being the fifth consecutive year for Yamaha Motor to receive this honour.

The MT-10 SP represents the pinnacle of the MT range. Designed for global roll out, the MT series of Yamaha hyper naked models delivers powerful and unique engine characteristics together with agile performance and a dynamic, naked style. Fully kitted out as a top-class model, the MT-10 SP is equipped with Öhlins electronically-controlled suspension and full colour TFT instruments – and its exclusive ‘Silver Blu Carbon’ colour scheme is inspired by Yamaha Motor’s supersport flagship model, the YZF-R1M.

In 2001 the original TMAX pioneered the sports maxi scooter concept, and today the TMAX DX sport scooter brings the ultimate fusion and balance of two styles in one package. With its dynamic acceleration together with agile handling and outstanding braking, this premium maxi scooter delivers sports motorcycle levels of performance. Featuring a comfortable riding position and equipped with deluxe features such as cruise control and an electronically adjustable screen, the versatile TMAX DX is ideal for long distance commuting as well as weekend fun riding.

The XMAX 300 is the successor to the XMAX 250 that enjoyed great popularity in Europe, thanks to its fun ride and sporty character – along with its combination of comfort and functionality for efficient city travel and commuting. The new model offers even higher levels of comfort and daily practicality, while also delivering dynamic MAX family styling, responsive performance and a premium finish that all work to reinforce the pride of ownership associated with Yamaha scooters. Positioned in the middle of the sport scooter range, the XMAX series models are being rolled out globally.

* The iF Design Award is a design award organized by the iF International Forum Design, the world’s longest-established independent design organization based in Hannover, Germany. Every year since 1953, superior designs are selected from industrial products etc. from around the world.

 

 

Posted on Leave a comment

BOTK 2018 finalists revealed

Harley-Davidson UK & Ireland’s national round of ‘Battle of the Kings’ UK now enters its last stages with the reveal of the five finalists selected to go forward to the final round of judging, to be held at the Carole Nash MCN London Motorcycle Show 2018 this weekend (16-18th February 2018).

The five, selected by online public voting are: from Glasgow, West Coast Harley-Davidson’s “Enlisted” (above); Guildford H-D’s “The Petrali Racer”; Maidstone H-D’s “Ottawa”; Shaw H-D’s “The Edge”; and Sycamore H-D’s “Alley Rat”.

The shortlist of five entries from the UK & Ireland round of BOTK 2018 was served up by the result of public voting via a unique Battle of the Kings website that showcases all BOTK 2018 entries from the Harley-Davidson dealer network across 21 countries. A total of 12,000 votes by motorcycle and customisation fans were logged for the 15 UK & Ireland entries.

BOTK 2018 is the fourth consecutive year of this largest dealer-led customisation contest. With the main theme for BOTK 2018 being the 115th Anniversary of Harley-Davidson, the depth of 115 years’ worth of custom and iconic bikes for inspiration ensured the UK & Ireland entries were truly outstanding in design and build quality.

The five finalists will now be judged by an exclusive panel of guest judges at the Carole Nash MCN London Motorcycle Show 2018 at ExCel London, in order to select the overall winner. The lucky finalist will then go head-to-head against other national finalists at a Grand Final to take place at Milan’s EICMA exhibition in November 2018.

2018’s Battle of the Kings competition took the form of official Harley-Davidson dealerships creating a road legal Dark Custom machine within a strict budget of £5,500 (€6,000) and from a select list of Harley-Davidson motorcycles. The list of base models for dealers to choose from to compete in this year’s BOTK was Sportster® Dark Custom® models Iron 883™, Forty-Eight® and Roadster™; plus the Street® 750 and Street Rod®; and also from the exciting line up of nine all-new Softail® motorcycles for 2018, the latest Street Bob® and Fat Bob®.

Looking at the five finalists our favourite for the win has to be Enlisted from West Coast. The overall theme and design stand out beyond its four competitors, three of which seem remarkably similar and fall into what has become almost a default ‘go-to’ design in custom builds.

Let’s see what happens at the show this week. Whatever the decision is, Enlisted is the winner in our book.

 

Posted on Leave a comment

KTM riders put on excellent show at Hawkstone

The new look Hitachi ASA KTM UK motocross team made its first appearance of the 2018 season at the Hawkstone International on February 11 with an excellent showing by riders Graeme Irwin and Conrad Mews in the MX1 and MX2 classes, respectively. Irwin was nipping at the heels of the MXGP factory bikes in both races and Mewse made the podium.

The power-sapping sandy Shrewsbury circuit is the unofficial season starter, attracting MXGP Factory teams as everyone prepares to get up to racing speed ahead of the long year. For the Hitachi ASA KTM UK team, it was the chance to show off its fresh livery and all-new rider line-up, with two very determined racers coming hot off a dedicated winter training programme. 

Aside from a late flurry of snow, the weather held for the riders and big crowds of spectators, but after qualifying the infamous Hill section was taken out of the lap due to the riders complaining of a lot of stones flicking up, making the relentless rutty track even harder for overtakes. 

MX1

Irwin joins the successful KTM team as reigning British MX1 champion, bringing with him ASA Scaffolding as a major sponsor. The 26-year old will spend the year on the KTM 450 SX-F, defending the no.1 plate in the UK series and taking on the world’s best in MXGP. 

After posting the seventh fastest time in qualifying, this meant very little with the track layout changed to remove the Hill section, but the Carrickfergus rider was feeling confident. Race 1 saw Irwin and his no.1 plate KTM 450 SX-F finish in 5th, behind the two factory Red Bull Factory KTMs of Jeffrey Herlings and Glenn Coldenhoff and the factory Husqvarnas of Max Anstie and Gautier Paulin.

Looking at a repeat performance in Race 2, Irwin collided with a backmarker while in 5th position. Graeme was unhurt and able to remount, finishing a frustrated eighth place to tie him on fifth overall for the day in the MX1 class.

A pragmatic Graeme Irwin said: “The first race result wasn’t too bad, but the gap to the front was bigger than I wanted. I knew I had more, I just couldn’t find that rhythm and speed in the opening laps. The second race was a shame to have the collision with the backmarker. I don’t think I saw a blue flag all day. Anyway, he moved aside for one rider but not me and that was that. 

“Although the results aren’t what I wanted the positives from the event is that we’ve got three races under our belt and we leave uninjured. The track is all about the start – without the Hill it makes it even harder to pass – and I know I need to get up to speed faster in the opening laps.

“In Race 2, the only bikes in front were fully factory, so that’s a good sign. But to be fair I want to be closer to those guys. But I can’t fault the team or my KTM 450 SX-F – I just didn’t ride it to its full potential today. We are only going to get better!”

MX2

For Mewse, since his 2013 World and British 85cc championships titles, the 18-year old has had a rapid rise through categories and the #426 will ride the KTM 250 SX-F in the MX2 categories of the World and British championships this season. After a winter training programme that the youngster from Shepton Mallet admits he’s worked twice as hard at than ever before, he was eager to show off that preparation to the crowd and his opposition.

After posting the fifth fastest time in qualifying, Mewse then went one better in Race 1 with fourth place – under two seconds from Thomas Kjer-Olsen in third. In Race 2, a slow start gave Conrad a lot of work to do as he dropped to ninth, but his determination was unfaltering as he worked his way through the field for another fourth place – tantalisingly close to third again, being just a second off Adam Sterry at the flag after almost 30 minutes in the punishing sand. The result was enough to give Mewse a podium start to the year with third overall.

Conrad Mewse said: “Overall, we had a really good weekend and that’s testament to coming off a great off-season. I’m really happy. I’ve got such a great team around me and they let me work the way that I need to. It’s all working perfectly and that shows today with three solid races and a podium to begin the year with.

“I made mistakes at the start of both races, making things harder for myself. Maybe I’d have had a bit more energy for the Super Final if not. But even then, I only tired at the end of that.

“The set-up is good; the team is mega and I’ll keep working and improving. We are only going to get even better. Today was a learning day going into a long season. I’ll just keep hitting the motos and the gym!”

SUPER FINAL

The day concluded with the Super Final – pitching the MX2 machines against the bigger MX1 class bikes. Looking to make amends for MX1 Race 2, Irwin spun up badly off the line with the track having dug down to its hard core, getting a face full of mud and MX2 machines in return. Attempting to fight back on a difficult to pass track, he would ultimately run out of tear-offs and steamed-up goggles saw him a frustrated 13th over the line.

It would be Mewse who would enjoy the most success in this combined class as he used the corner speed of the KTM 250 SX-F machine to devastating form to mix it up with the 450cc machines of MX1. He crossed the line eight overall, but the third MX2 bike.

Hitachi ASA KTM UK team manager, Lee Tolan, said: “Both the boys got off to a solid start to the season. It’s nice to see that all the hard work from everyone that has been put in throughout the winter has paid off. Conrad had a fantastic day in both MX2 races, getting on the podium, and finishing strongly in the Super Final.

“Graeme showed his speed, but was unlucky with a crash in the second race with a lapped rider whilst sitting in fifth. But none the less a cracking ride from him and we leave Hawkstone with both riders fit and happy; it’s definitely shaping up to be a season not to be missed!”

The Red Bull KTM Factory rider, Jeffrey Herlings, won the MX1 class overall and the Super Final, while his teammate Pauls Jonass did the honours in the MX2 class. 

Posted on Leave a comment

William Dunlop to ride Yamahas for Temple Golf Club at TT 2018

Dunlop will compete in the RST Superbike, PokerStars Senior and RL360 Quantum Superstock classes on the YZF-R1M and will also ride a new YZF-R6 with additional support from Caffrey International in the two Monster Energy Supersport Races.

Last year, the Northern Irishman man was thrown a lifeline by former Mar-Train team owner Tim Martin after his 2017 plans fell through at the last minute. Dunlop borrowed Martin’s 1000cc Yamaha machines and after playing catch-up on his rivals for most of the season, he began to hit his stride at the Ulster Grand Prix.

The 32-year-old became the first rider ever to crack the 200mph barrier at Dundrod and was right on the pace in the Superbike class, but a freak injury away from the track forced him to give the showpiece races a miss.

By his own admission, Dunlop has endured a couple of lacklustre years and the multiple North West 200 and Ulster GP winner is determined to make amends this year, when a maiden victory at the Isle of Man TT is his top priority.

“The TT is the one I want most and that’s what our year will be built around,” Dunlop said. “I’ve got the full package this year and although I’ve always had a good Supersport package, over the last two years I have been given competitive big bikes but not the budget to run them properly.”

“Tim stepped in and gave me everything I wanted for the Ulster last year and the bikes were transformed, I wasn’t riding well but was still competing for pole position in qualifying so I knew then what I wanted for 2018.”

“To have my team and bikes ready to go in January takes away so much pressure. I’m mentally and physically in better condition than ever and looking forward to going testing,” he added.

Dunlop will contest the opening British Superbike rounds as he builds towards the major international road races. He will also participate in the annual Pro Test organised by Barry Symmons at Cartagena in Spain.

After spearheading the development of the all-new YZF-R1M throughout 2015, team boss Martin was cruelly denied the opportunity to reap the rewards in 2016 when Dan Kneen was injured at the beginning of the season, ruling him out of the North West and TT.

He took a sabbatical last year, but Martin’s desire to win is burning brighter than ever and in Dunlop, he feels he has a rider capable of beating anyone on his day.

“I have watched William from a distance for years and made no secret of the fact I think he is a natural talent with the potential to beat anyone,” he said.

“I’ve also spent a lot of time developing the R1M without turning the potential into results so the opportunity to put the two together and prove a few people wrong was just too tempting to resist.

“The R1M has been completely revamped since we were last on track and we have put together a good team with everything William asked for,” he added.

“I’m thoroughly looking forward to being back in the paddock and to finally working with William.”