Michael Dunlop won the first Supertwin TT of the week on the Isle of Man to move above John McGuinness into second place in the all-time winners’ list.
Dunlop led from start to finish on his Paton to secure his 24th victory, one ahead of McGuinness and two behind the record total of his uncle Joey Dunlop.
The win made it a hat-trick for Michael at TT 2023, the 34-year-old having also won the Supersport and Superbike races.
The Northern Ireland rider will compete in four further races this week.
Dunlop will be fancied to make it double triumphs in the Supersport and Supertwins classes, which have their second outings on Wednesday and Friday respectively .
He is also expected to challenge for top spot in the remaining Superstock and Senior races.
The Ballymoney rider twice unofficially broke his existing class lap record in qualifying last week to establish himself as a clear favourite for Supertwins successes, his eventual best speed 123.474mph.
Dunlop was twice a previous winner of the category, being pushed hard for victory by Republic of Ireland rider Derek McGee in 2018 and then Yorkshireman Jamie Coward in 2019.
Twelve months ago Dunlop was involved in a thrilling race-long battle with Peter Hickman but retired on the final lap to end his chances of victory.
Monday’s race was much more straightforward for him though as he led Coward by 4.5 seconds at the first timing point at Glen Helen and continued to increase his advantage sector by sector.
An opening lap of 121.229 handed Dunlop a healthy 14.3-second cushion over his nearest pursuer, with Cork rider Mike Browne in third.
Browne overtook Coward for second after the riders’ second circuit, with Dunlop in total command by 21.9 seconds at the head of affairs. His final winning margin was 26.78 seconds.
Burrows Engineering/RK Racing Paton pilot Browne and Kawasaki rider Coward were embroiled in an exhilarating tussle for the runner-up spot on lap three, trading places throughout their final 37.73 miles, the Irish rider ultimately prevailing by 2.2 seconds.
For Browne, it was the first TT podium of his career in just his third year of competing at the event.
Dunlop posted the fastest lap of the week on his final circuit with 121.905.
“It was a weird race. We really did nurse that bike through the whole race as easy as I possibly could, I had to be gentle with her,” explained Dunlop after the race.
“The bike was magnificent, I can’t fault it, I just wanted to be on my own and do my own thing, real steady.”
Peter Hickman was fourth on his Yamaha R7, with Australian Josh Brookes and Frenchman Pierre Yves-Bian completing the top six leaderboard.