Dom­i­nant Dun­lop

Suzuki man gets crowd on their feet with dom­i­nant wins at his lo­cal event

Motorcycle News (UK) - - Sport - By Stephen Davison MCN ROADS EX­PERT

Lo­cal hero rules at Armoy

Michael Dun­lop has won the Race of Leg­ends fea­ture race for the sev­enth year in a row at Armoy. The Ben­netts Suzuki rider blitzed the op­po­si­tion to se­cure vic­tory on the roads just a few miles from his Co Antrim home.

“I think I’ve won this race since 2011 and it is great to do that in front of a crowd where you know nearly every­body’s face,” the 28-year-old smiled.

The win crowned a great home­com­ing week­end for the Se­nior and Su­per­sport TT win­ner, who was mak­ing his first Ir­ish Na­tional road rac­ing ap­pear­ance of the year, after he also claimed vic­to­ries in the Open Su­per­bike race and 600cc event on his MD Rac­ing Yamaha R6.

The race had been made more of a chal­lenge when heavy rain show­ers through­out the meet­ing made tyre se­lec­tion tricky.

“One minute you were on a dry road and the next it was wet,” Dun­lop ex­plained. “In the first race I chose a rear slick and the Suzuki was slid­ing ev­ery­where so I went with in­ter­me­di­ates front and back.”

Dun­lop dom­i­nated the fea­ture event from the start, win­ning the seven-lap race by 12.6 sec­onds from his brother Wil­liam on the Tem­ple Golf Club Yamaha R1 and Michael Sweeney on his MJR BMW.

Wil­liam was bit­terly dis­ap­pointed to lose out to his younger sib­ling as he strug­gled to get to grips with the Yamaha in the change­able con­di­tions.

“It is a sec­ond to­day but it is a bad sec­ond be­cause I was so far be­hind Michael,” he said. “I am dis­ap­pointed be­cause I thought I had the bike sorted but it was a real hand­ful.”

Both Dun­lop brothers raced at Armoy with one eye on this event and the other on the Ul­ster Grand Prix, which be­gins in just over a week’s time. Wil­liam had no 600cc ma­chine at his home event be­cause the en­gine of his IC Rac­ing R6 Yamaha is being re­freshed for the high-speed Dun­drod races, at the work­shop of Ger­man en­gine guru Mar­cus Eschen­bacher.

His younger brother was also ob­vi­ously us­ing Armoy as a test­ing ground for the world’s fastest road race, bring­ing two full-spec su­per­bike GSX-RS in wet and dry weather set-ups. Michael ad­mit­ted he was search­ing for an op­ti­mum Dun­drod set-up, par­tic­u­larly after los­ing out to Dean Har­ri­son’s Sil­cone Kawasaki ZX-10R and Dan Kneen’s DTR BMW S1000RR in the re­cent South­ern 100 fea­ture race.

“The big bike is a hand­ful and we are al­ways work­ing at it, try­ing to make it bet­ter,” he said. “I don’t go to a race any­where with­out want­ing to win and I am al­ways try­ing to put my­self in the po­si­tion to do that. I was strug­gling a bit for ponies at the South­ern even though I made a mis­take with the rear shock set­ting that was en­tirely my own fault.”

Dun­lop com­plained of hav­ing lim­ited time on the roads with the new and un­known GSX-R since mak­ing his shift to Suzuki for 2017.

“We only had a head to head for com­par­i­son at the North West and then we didn’t get the track time we had hoped for at the TT,” he ex­plained.

“There wasn’t much prac­tice be­cause of the bad weather, then I broke down in the first race and we didn’t even get a sec­ond Su­per­sport race.

“This is the first time I have been out since the South­ern and some­times you have to sac­ri­fice a race to try out new set­tings. It is hard at the minute be­cause I am not on the bike as much as I should be.”

Both Stu­art and Steve Hicken, the bosses of the Hawk Rac­ing team which run Dun­lop’s Ben­netts-liv­er­ied Suzuki, were at Armoy and will be hop­ing Dun­lop’s bril­liant form con­tin­ues at Dun­drod. They, like Dun­lop, will also be seek­ing new com­po­nents and data on the GSX-R from Ja­pan fol­low­ing the Suzuka 8-Hour race.

“I think we will get some in­for­ma­tion later this week,” Dun­lop ex­plained. “The Ja­panese have told us they are mak­ing de­vel­op­ments, but they said they didn’t want to give us any­thing un­til they had tested ev­ery­thing at Suzuka.”

‘ The first race was wet, and I had a rear slick’ MICHAEL DUN­LOP

That’s s even Race of Leg­ends wins on the bounce for Dun­lop 100% com­mit­ment from Dun­lop. Like you’d ex­pect any­thing less...

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