‘This is just class - I love being here’
Michael Dunlop makes up for Superbike DNF with a long overdue Supersport TT win
Still reeling from his forced retirement when leading the opening Superbike TT, Michael Dunlop made amends in the best way possible with a dominant victory in the first Supersport TT. A win that saw him draw level with the legendary Mike Hailwood in the all-time TT winners list with win number 14.
Riding the MD Racing Yamaha R6, Dunlop overcame an uncharacteristically slow start that saw him trailing the impressive James Hillier in the opening laps. Hillier, onboard the JG Speedfit Kawasaki, didn’t make it easy for Dunlop who took until the third lap to stamp his authority on the four-lap race and take victory by a commanding 13 seconds.
“Fair play to James, he jumped out of the blocks today fighting. We had to push,” explained a jubilant Dunlop.
“The conditions weren’t too bad out there,” Dunlop said after heavy rain had soaked the circuit overnight and led to a two-hour delay of the start.
“I took it steady on the first lap. I think we maybe picked the wrong rear tyre. I opened up the throttle on the third lap to get a bit of a gap.”
While it wasn’t a big bike win the 28- year-old lives for, it was still hugely significant for two reasons. The first was that it was Dunlop’s first Supersport win since 2014 and secondly it brought to an end to arch rival Ian Hutchinson’s run of four straight wins in the class.
“This is just class – I love being here, frigging love it and it’s a long time coming. The 600 had been off the boil for a couple of years, for whatever reasons, it’s nice to be back again and with a few new sponsors on board and it’s their first win at the TT.”
Dunlop also made a veiled reference to the row that surrounded the legality of the pistons in Hutchinson’s race-winning Yamaha in 2016.
“It’s been a few years since I won a Supersport race and there have been a few other things happening since then too, so now this proves it,” he said.
“There are a lot of factors without pointing at anything.”
His victory was taken to another level due to his Superbike DNF a day earlier, a race he was utterly convinced he was going to win.
Speaking about how his team responded, he said: “The boys put in a lot of work. I was disappointed yesterday, I just said it’s very simple boys- we either stand up and be counted or we lie down and be trampled over. The boys just worked as hard as they could to get the bike sorted. The last couple of years the 600s haven’t been so good and I’m just glad to prove that we can still ride it. I got a kick in the gut yesterday with the Superbike and I didn’t know at first if I had won the Supersport. It’s starting to sink in now and I love the 600 and it’s my sponsor Carl Cox’s first win at the TT too.”
He also took the time to thank his older brother William who loaned him a part just minutes before the start of the race.
“Thanks to William, we struggled for one of the parts on the bike and fair play to him, he loaned it to me.”
The poor weather conditions that have plagued this year’s TT during practice and race week caused the abandonment of the second scheduled Superport race, denying race fans of another thrilling battle and the prospect of a Dunlop v Hutchinson showdown.
‘I love being here, frigging love it and it’s been a long time coming. I’ve proved I can still ride it’