Eazi Grip

Michael Dunlop wins the Manx GP Classic Superbike Race and breaks the lap record

Michael Dunlop completed the centenary Manx Grand Prix with victory in Monday evening’s RST Classic Superbike MGP Race, the Ulsterman setting a new lap record of 126.681mph on the Team Classic Suzuki on the final lap to come home 43.6 seconds ahead of David Johnson (Alasdair Cowan Racing Kawasaki) with Rob Hodson (Greenall Racing Kawasaki) in third.

Pushed back to a 6.40pm start and cut from four laps to three, Dean Harrison (Key Racing Ducati) led Dunlop by 2.5 seconds through Glen Helen on the opening lap with Johnson a similar distance behind in third as Brian McCormack (Greenall Racing Kawasaki), Hodson and Michael Rutter (Bathams Ales Suzuki) rounded out the top six.

Ryan Cringle (Mistral Racing Kawasaki) was up into seventh but one of the fancied runners, Craig Neve, was outside the top thirty though after losing almost a minute off the line when his Alasdair Cowan Racing Kawasaki refused to fire. James Hillier and Mike Browne were also in trouble with both retiring early.

The gap between Harrison and Dunlop remained the same at Ballaugh Bridge but Dunlop had reduced the deficit to 1.8 seconds round Ramsey Hairpin for the first time. Johnson was still in third but was now 5.8 seconds behind Dunlop but more than six seconds clear of new fourth-placed rider Hodson.

An opening lap of 124.767mph meant Harrison still led at the mandatory pit stop but Dunlop had brought the gap down to just half a second with Johnson, circulating on the road with Harrison, in third and almost seven seconds ahead of Hodson. McCormack and Rutter remained in fifth and sixth as Paul Jordan (Mistral Racing Kawasaki), Nathan Harrison (Ashcourt Racing Honda), Derek Sheils on the third Greenall machine and Cringle now made up the top ten.

Through Glen Helen on lap two and Dunlop took the lead, albeit by just a tenth of a second, but Johnson was now 20 seconds adrift in third. Hodson had brought the gap to Johnson down to 5.3 seconds with McCormack only another 4.4 seconds back in fifth and it was Jordan now in sixth after Rutter stopped at Quarter Bridge and lost substantial time before proceeding.

Dunlop’s lead was up to 2.5 seconds at Ballaugh and it had more than doubled round Ramsey Hairpin for the second time, the gap to Harrison now 6.6 seconds in the north of the Island. Johnson, Hodson and McCormack continued in third to fifth, but it was Sheils now in sixth.

Drama then came though with news that Harrison’s Ducati had expired at Brandywell and as he started the third and final lap, Dunlop’s lead had shot up to almost 34 seconds with 2019 winner Johnson now in third.

Harrison’s demise promoted everyone up a place and Hodson was now occupying the final podium position, three seconds behind Johnson and comfortably ahead of McCormack, Sheils and Jordan. Nathan Harrison, Cringle, a recovering Neve and Shaun Anderson (WizNorton) followed.

Dunlop’s lead continued to increase, standing at 37.8 seconds through Glen Helen on the final lap, but it was getting close for second with Hodson having closed to within 2.1 seconds of Johnson. Last year’s victor wasn’t done there either, bringing the gap down to 0.8 seconds at Ramsey for the final time.

Despite his healthy lead, Dunlop showed no signs of slowing down and was running on lap record pace and, indeed, a lap of 126.681mph saw him better Nathan Harrison’s record from twelve months ago. It was Johnson who got the verdict for second, pulling away from Hodson over the Mountain to edge him out by 2.1 seconds.

McCormack was more than a minute clear of Nathan Harrison in fourth with Harrison just edging Neve out by a second, the latter recovering brilliantly after his earlier issues. Jordan was only three quarters of a second back in seventh and with Cringle retiring at Parliament Square on the final lap, it was Sheils, Anderson and Frenchman Amalric Blanc who completed the top ten.

Posted on Tuesday, August 29th, 2023 in News

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