William Dunlop will ride Yamaha Superbike and Superstock machinery in a new deal with the Tim Martin-owned Temple Golf Club on the roads this year.
Dunlop rode a Yamaha Superstock machine at the Tandragee 100 on Saturday after the YZF-R1 was loaned to him by the former Mar-Train Racing team boss.
The Ballymoney rider finished as the runner-up in the Superbike race behind Derek Sheils in his first run on a 1000cc machine in anger since last year’s Ulster Grand Prix at Dundrod.
Martin is the new owner of Temple Golf Club but is keen to stress that Mar-Train Racing is not making a comeback after the Northern Ireland team called time on its involvement in the sport in December after 11 successful years.
Dunlop will ride the Temple Golf Club Yamaha machines along with his own IC Racing/Caffrey YZF-R6.
The 31-year-old agreed terms with former British Superbike team Halsall Racing for the Superbike and Superstock classes this year, but the deal has faltered and with the start of the North West 200 less than two weeks away, Dunlop has yet to receive any bikes from entrepreneur Martin Halsall.
Dunlop, though, is simply relieved to have concrete plans in place at last and has thanked Martin for stepping in to throw him a lifeline.
Speaking exclusively to the News Letter, he said: “I’m grateful to Tim for helping me out of a hole and I’ll be riding the Superstock bike this weekend at Cookstown.
“I was going to give the event a miss and go to Snetterton instead for a British Thundersport round because I thought it would mean I’d get more track time, but now that I’ve got more than one bike I’m actually excited about going to Cookstown.
“Hopefully we’ll get a test on the Yamaha Superbike next week at Kirkistown and then we’ll be going to the North West 200 and the TT from there.
“It hasn’t been the best preparation but I was surprised by how I rode at Tandragee on the Superstock bike because that was my first time on a big bike since the Ulster Grand Prix,” added Dunlop, who rode a Yamaha R1 Superbike last season.
“I’m hoping that we’ll have a fair idea of what we need with the big bikes because I rode a Yamaha last year. It’s just a relief to have things in place now because a week ago I only had the 600 for the North West and TT.”
Martin admits he has been an admirer of Dunlop’s for some time, revealing that he previously tried to sign him twice in the past.
“William rode our Superstock bike last weekend at Tandragee and seemed to like it. There was no deal done and it was just the case that he needed a bike and I was able to give him one,” he said.
“Since then, things have moved on a little bit and we are now going to supply him with bikes for the 2017 season. It’s nothing to do with Mar-Train and we are not making a comeback in that sense – it’s the Temple Golf Club that is doing this.
“I’m a fan of William’s and I tried to sign him on two previous occasions. I own the Temple Golf Club and this partnership with William is about our new venture with the golf club.”
In 2016, Manx rider Dan Kneen rode in the Mar-Train colours but was ruled out of the North West 200 and Isle of Man TT through injury.