Michael Dunlop blast to three big bike vic­to­ries in epic roads bat­tle

Motorcycle News (UK) - - News - By Stephen Dav­i­son MCN CON­TRIB­U­TOR

Dean Har­ri­son blitzed Se­nior TT win­ner Michael Dunlop to take vic­tory in the fea­ture race at the 2017 South­ern 100.

The Brad­ford racer had been forced to watch as the Ben­netts Suzuki star dom­i­nated the open­ing su­per­bike races at the Manx event af­ter his Sil­i­cone Kawasaki ZX-10R was ruled out by elec­tri­cal prob­lems. But in the race that re­ally mat­tered Har­ri­son was more than a match for Dunlop and Manx­man Dan Kneen, who fin­ished sec­ond on the DTR BMW.

“I’ve been try­ing to win that race for five years,” the 28-year-old smiled.

“It’s the one that ev­ery­one wants to win, to be the South­ern 100 cham­pion. It’s the one that goes down in his­tory. I’ve fin­ished sec­ond too many times.”

Af­ter trail­ing home a dis­tant third to Dunlop and Kneen in the open­ing su­per­bike en­counter of the week, Har­ri­son over­came engine prob­lems, a faulty reg­u­la­tor, dead bat­tery and a blown ECU on his big Kawasaki, to fi­nally make it to the line in the fea­ture race.

He said: “I have missed two races in the last cou­ple of days and have had a few bad luck is­sues with the bike but I have just kept chip­ping away.

“The lads have worked won­ders and the set-up of the bike is a lot bet­ter than I thought it would be, even though I have only done one race on it. I’m over the moon.”

Be­fore Har­ri­son’s break­through, 2017 Se­nior TT win­ner Dunlop had dom­i­nated the pop­u­lar Manx meet­ing by win­ning all three of the ear­lier su­per­bike races on his Ben­netts Suzuki su­per­bike and set a new outright lap record. In the fea­ture race the Bal­ly­money man blazed into the lead from the start and it looked like it would be busi­ness as usual for him un­til Har­ri­son and Kneen upped their pace.

Har­ri­son added: “Michael got a re­ally good start and I thought: ‘I need to get stuck in now and not let him break me’.

“I like to feel the road be­neath the bike be­fore I push hard and then I started to reel him back in and got past. Dan got past too and we swapped and changed a few times on var­i­ous laps but I just knew I had to keep brak­ing as late as I could and keep my head down.”

Har­ri­son, who was run­ning a stock mo­tor in his Sil­i­cone Kawasaki af­ter yet more prob­lems with his su­per­bike engine at the start of the week, saw Kneen slip ahead af­ter he made a mis­take at Castle­town cor­ner.

“My boot got caught on my rearset and I ran wide,” Har­ri­son ex­plained.

Kneen, who had fin­ished run­nerup to Dunlop in the three pre­vi­ous su­per­bike en­coun­ters on his su­per­stock spec DTR BMW S1000RR, con­tin­ued to swap the lead with Har­ri­son over the clos­ing laps as Dunlop fol­lowed in their wheel tracks. The on-form Manx­man had his own plan for the fi­nal cor­ner on the last lap.

“I had planned to out­brake Dean at Castle­town but he ran in re­ally deep,” Kneen ex­plained.

“I tried to get the drive to go past on the run to the line but he came across the road and I had to back off.”

Har­ri­son took the che­quered flag by just 0.13 sec­onds from Kneen with Dunlop 0.4 sec­onds fur­ther back.

All three men broke Dunlop’s new outright lap record set ear­lier in the day on the fi­nal cir­cuit, with the Ir­ish­man en­joy­ing the con­so­la­tion of estab­lish­ing a new mark of 115.707mph, over 1mph faster than Har­ri­son’s 2014 speed.

A de­jected Dunlop ex­plained: “It was my own fault re­ally be­cause I told Steve (Hicken, team boss) to change the rear sus­pen­sion set­ting and I just lost all

‘I knew I had to keep brak­ing as late as pos­si­ble and keep my head down’ DEAN HAR­RI­SON

the grip. There is def­i­nitely a 116mph lap pos­si­ble around here, maybe even a 117. I knew there were two or three sec­onds to gain but I just lost all my drive round the back and couldn’t pull it all back in again be­cause my rear just started to spin.”

Al­though he now has 20 South­ern wins on his CV, the 28-year-old was dis­ap­pointed not to have equalled the record of four South­ern Solo cham­pi­onship race wins held by his un­cle Joey and Guy Martin (who opted to sit out this year’s event, see p69).

Dunlop added: “I would have been ok if we had run with the ear­lier set-up with just a cou­ple of clicks change but we went with a big change be­cause we just don’t know any­thing about this bike at the minute.

“The boys are rid­ing hard, so to make a big jump like that can go for you or go against you, but you have to be on the money.”

Dean Har­ri­son cel­e­brates his vic­tory in the South­ern 100 fea­ture race

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