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Eazi Grip

Michael Dunlop joint second on all-time winners’ list after Superbike success

Michael Dunlop joined John McGuinness as the second most successful rider in the history of the Isle of Man TT by taking a commanding start-to-finish victory in the six-lap Superbike race.

Having won the Supersport opener on Saturday, Dunlop took his overall tally to 23 with his second win of the week.

The 34-year-old sits three behind the record total of 26 triumphs achieved by his legendary late uncle Joey Dunlop.

Michael is scheduled to compete in a further six races over the coming days.

For the Northern Irishman, this was a fifth win in the Superbike race, but a first since 2018.

The Ballymoney rider has also tasted success in three Senior TT races, taking his career total in the premier class of the meeting held on closed public roads to eight.

Peter Hickman was 8.2 seconds behind Dunlop in second, edging out Dean Harrison for second on the final lap, just as he did in the Supersport event, the margin between the two English riders 2.4 seconds on this occasion.

Dunlop had sent out a resounding message to his main rivals by unofficially smashing Hickman’s five-year-old absolute lap record in qualifying and he carried that form into Sunday’s 226-mile race with an emphatic display of high-speed racing.

Aboard his Hawk Racing Honda, Dunlop eked out a 6.2-second lead over DAO Kawasaki Racing rider Harrison after lap one courtesy of a new lap record for the Superbike race of 134.519mph from a standing start.

Hickman, winner of the previous two stagings of the Superbike race but reported to be struggling with an intermittent quick-shifter issue and brake problems, was a further five seconds adrift in third.

Race leader Dunlop upped the pace further on his second circuit of the Mountain Course, producing a blistering improved lap speed of 135.046 to increase his cushion over Harrison to 14 seconds.

The Ballymoney rider consolidated his advantage thereafter to make it a double on the opening weekend of this year’s TT and a seventh win on Honda bikes of his TT career.

The standard of his performance was further illustrated by the fact that he shattered Hickman’s Superbike race record by 56 seconds – with a time of 16 minutes 54.322 seconds.

Dunlop has now won six ‘big bike’ races in partnership with Stuart and Steve Hicken’s Hawk Racing team, their previous successes coming thanks to Superbike and Senior doubles on BMW machinery in 2014 and 2016, then a further victory on a Suzuki in the 2017 Senior.

Dunlop commented:

“People thought I couldn’t win on the big bikes any more.

“I might not seem it or look like it, but I’m delighted to prove I can still win on the big bike.

“People doubted me and my big bike ability but Steve and Stuart [Hicken, OF Hawk Racing team] believed in me.

“They told me to get the best out of the bike and assured me that I’ve still got it.

“No matter what happens now, I’ve won a big bike race again.

“I have to say thanks to the Hickens for putting a great package under me. It was tough, it never gets any easier, but the bike felt good and I felt good. I’m happy.

“I built up a lead, managed it and rolled it off heavily on the last lap, then I saw the gap coming down and some waved yellow flags came out.

“I was so nervous about trying to keep it going.”

Hickman ended the race strongly and bettered Dunlop’s best lap speed with a final lap of 135.445mph to secure runner-up spot – that less than five hundredths of a second outside his absolute course benchmark set in the 2018 Senior.

OMG Racing Yamaha rider James Hiller was fourth, with Jamie Coward and John McGuinness, both Honda-mounted, rounding out the top six and twice British Superbike champion Josh Brookes seventh.

Davey Todd retired on his Milenco by Padgett’s Honda while battling for a high leaderboard position.

Racing continues on Tuesday with the first Superstock and Supertwins races of the meeting.

Posted on Monday, June 5th, 2023 in News

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