Stunning Su­pers­port win

Hard-charger equals Hail­wood’s TT record but he was pushed all the way by Hil­lier

Motorcycle News (UK) - - Front Page - By Stephen Dav­i­son ROADS RAC­ING RE­PORTER

Michael Dun­lop equalled Mike Hail­wood’s tally of 14 TT wins by tak­ing vic­tory on his MD Rac­ing Yamaha in Mon­day’s open­ing Su­pers­port TT.

It was con­so­la­tion for the Ballymoney man’s break­down in the Su­per­bike TT as he man­aged the tricky con­di­tions per­fectly to win by 13 sec­onds from James Hil­lier on the JG Speed­fit Kawasaki and third-placed Peter Hick­man.

“The con­di­tions weren’t too bad out there,” Dun­lop said af­ter heavy rain had soaked the cir­cuit overnight and led to a three-hour de­lay to the start of the race.

“I took it steady on the first lap. I think we maybe picked the wrong rear tyre. But I set­tled in nicely and in fair­ness to James he rode hard at the start”

Hil­lier had led on the open­ing cir­cuit and even when Dun­lop got in front on the sec­ond lap, the Kawasaki rider was never any more than a cou­ple of sec­onds adrift un­til the third lap when Dun­lop started to build a lead.

“I opened up the throt­tle on the third lap to get a bit of a gap,” hecon­firmed.

Dun­lop is the holder of the Su­pers­port TT lap record but he hasn’t won a 600cc TT since 2014 and the 28-year-old was de­lighted to break Ian Hutchin­son’s four-in-a-row win­ning streak.

He added: “I am re­ally happy to be win­ning 600 races again. It has been a bleak time but it was good to win to­day, espe­cially with some new spon­sors on­board.” DJ Carl Cox, who now backs Dun­lop on his own MD Rac­ing ma­chines, was one of the first to con­grat­u­late the North­ern Ir­ish­man.

Dun­lop also made a veiled ref­er­ence to the Pis­ton­gate row that sur­rounded the le­gal­ity of the pis­tons in Hutchin­son’s Yamaha for his 2016 wins.

“It’s been a few years since I won a Su­pers­port race and there have been a few other things hap­pen­ing since since then too,” he said.

“There are a lot of fac­tors without point­ing at any­thing.”

Hutchy fin­ished in fifth on the Mcams Yamaha, over a minute be­hind Dun­lop.

Dun­lop said he was proud to have equalled Hail­wood’s record with his sixth Su­pers­port TT win.

“Mike was a leg­end and it is nice to have done this to­day.”

Dun­lop’s Su­pers­port win now sets up an­other week of ri­valry be­tween him­self and Su­per­bike race-win­ner, Hutchin­son. The pair will go head-to­head in the sec­ond Su­pers­port race, the Su­per­stock event and the clos­ing Se­nior TT. Dun­lop didn’t hide his dis­ap­point­ment at break­ing down while lead­ing the Su­per­bike race on the Ben­nett’s Suzuki and he made it clear he wants to avenge the de­feat to his arch en­emy in Fri­day’s blue riband race.

He said bluntly: “We def­i­nitely have the pace for the Se­nior. And we have more pace. I was ready to pull the trig­ger when we stopped in Sun­day’s race. We were mak­ing the im­pos­si­ble pos­si­ble by lead­ing on a new bike.”

Dun­lop ad­mit­ted he had strug­gled to find a set-up for the new GSX-R with prac­tice be­ing cur­tailed by bad weather. “I only did one fly­ing lap all week and that was to check fuel con­sump­tion. Maybe if we had had an­other cou­ple of laps the prob­lem we en­coun­tered would have shown up ear­lier. But it is a new bike and we showed that we could lead the race and that was nice.”

The Ballymoney man was keep­ing his cards close to his chest about what the prob­lem was, but it is un­der­stood there was an en­gine fail­ure on the Suzuki, forc­ing his re­tire­ment on the sec­ond lap at Han­d­ley’s.

“What we need to find out now is if the prob­lem we had is some­thing that we can over­come and there is only one way to do that – more laps.”

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