Michael Dunlop

Road racing – Dunlop dominates shortened Senior

9CC07563964D48C6AC4DB9BAD470B7BA.ashx

Michael Dunlop won a shortened Senior TT race at the 2017 Isle of Man TT Races, with the Bennetts Suzuki rider taking his 15th TT victory by 13.3s from Peter Hickman (Smiths Racing BMW) and Dean Harrison (Silicone Engineering Kawasaki).

The race was restarted over four laps after the original race was red flagged on the second lap due to an incident involving 16-time TT winner Ian Hutchinson at the 27th Milestone. The Tyco BMW rider was conscious but was taken to hospital by airmed where it was later confirmed that he had suffered a fractured femur.

The race had been shaping up to be an epic with just 0.18s between Hickman and Hutchinson and Harrison only 1.2s further back in third but, eventually getting underway at 5.15pm, Dunlop led the restarted race through Glen Helen on the opening lap, with a 1.5s advantage over Bruce Anstey. Harrison was a further 0.9s back in third with Hickman, Michael Rutter and James Hillier completing the top six, the last two getting a second bite of the cherry having experienced problems in the first start.

Dunlop increased his lead through Ramsey slightly to 2s but Hickman was up to second ahead of Anstey who in turn held a 0.2s advantage over Harrison with Rutter still in fifth but with Conor Cummins now up to sixth at the expense of Hillier.

Dunlop added a further second to his lead by the time he reached the Bungalow and an opening lap speed of 132.292mph gave him a 4.2s lead over Hickman who in turn was 3.2s clear of Anstey. Harrison, Rutter and Cummins were holding station in fourth to sixth but Josh Brookes was on the move, going from 12th at Ramsey to eighth at the Grandstand.

At Glen Helen on lap 2 Dunlop had increased his lead by two more seconds and Harrison was now up to third with Anstey dropping back to fourth despite leading on the road and having a clear track. Rutter was still fifth but Hillier had moved back ahead of Cummins for sixth.

By Ramsey, Dunlop was still leading by 6s as him and Hickman practically matched each other every mile. Harrison was losing a bit of time in third but he was pulling away from Anstey who was extending his advantage over Rutter. Hillier was still sixth but just 2.4s covered him, Cummins and Brookes.

Coming into the pits at the end of the lap and Dunlop’s lead was now 9.2s after lapping at 132.903mph with Hickman in second and Harrison third, the latter having lapped at 131.838mph. Anstey was out though at Bedstead with the top six now completed by Rutter, Hillier and Cummins. Brookes was up to seventh having done his first 130mph+ lap around the Mountain Course at 130.551mph.

The lead was down slightly at Glen Helen on lap three to 7.7s as Hillier took over fourth from Rutter with Brookes moving up to sixth and by Ballaugh, Hickman had reduced the deficit to Dunlop further to 7.3s. However, through Ramsey for the third time and the Northern Irishman had got the gap back up to 8.5s.

Indeed, going into the fourth and final lap, the 28-year old was 10.6s clear of Hickman and he duly came home for his 15th TT win, his eventual winning margin being 13.3s.

Hickman made it five podiums from five starts with Harrison repeating his third place finish from Sunday’s RST Superbike race, aided by his first ever 132mph lap on lap four. Hillier and Rutter ended their strong weeks in fourth and fifth, the gap between the duo just 0.64s at the chequered flag.

The battle for sixth also went all the way to the end with Brookes, who lapped at 130.883mph fourth time around edging out Norton team-mate David Johnson. Cummins, Martin Jessopp, who recorded his first 130mph lap, and William Dunlop completed the top ten.

The results meant that Hickman won the Joey Dunlop Championship with 76 points based on cumulative results from the RST Superbike, Monster Energy Supersport, RL360 Quantum Superstock and PokerStars Senior TT Races with Hutchinson second (61) and Dunlop third (60).

Jamie Coward was the first privateer home in an excellent 11th place with Daley Mathison next home in 13th but Horst Saiger’s 18th saw him clinch the TT Privateer’s Championship. He finished with 71 points with Coward in second on 63.

Road racing – Dunlop wins Supersport Race One and takes 14th TT victory

7524426DF8734ABC92E13B9CA98C8C2C.ashx

Michael Dunlop took his 14th Isle of Man TT victory after winning the four-lap Supersport race by 13.2 seconds from James Hillier.

The Northern Ireland rider overhauled Hillier half way round the first lap but it was only on the final lap that he pulled clear as he took his first 600cc win since 2014. Peter Hickman took third for his second TT podium in as many days and set the fastest lap of the race on the final lap at 126.848mph.

Overnight conditions led to a delay of just over two hours 15 minutes but the race finally got underway shortly after 1pm with riders warned of damp patches at Ramsey Hairpin, the Nook and Governor’s Dip. And, as in Sunday’s Superbike race, Hillier on the JG Speedfit Kawasaki was again quickest on the first nine mile run to Glen Helen.

His advantage over William Dunlop (Caffrey International Yamaha) was only 0.4s with Michael Dunlop (MD Racing Yamaha) just 0.01s behind his brother. Gary Johnson, Dean Harrison and Peter Hickman completed the top six with Sunday’s Superbike TT winner Ian Hutchinson back in seventh.

By Ramsey Hairpin, Dunlop had taken over the lead but it was still extremely tight – his advantage over Hillier just 0.09s. William Dunlop was a further 1.5s back in third as Johnson, Harrison and Hickman held onto their top six positions.

Hillier had re-taken the lead by the time the riders swept through the Bungalow and an opening lap of 124.743mph gave him a slender 0.397s lead over Michael Dunlop as Harrison moved up to third. William Dunlop dropped back to fourth with Johnson in fifth and Hutchinson moving up to sixth as 9.6s covered the top six.

However, by Glen Helen on lap two, Dunlop was 1.8s clear of Hillier with William Dunlop now up to third after Harrison retired at Ballacraine with a broken gear lever. That promoted Johnson up to fourth, Hutchinson fifth and Hickman sixth.

Through Ramsey second time around and Dunlop had eked out his advantage to 3.2s with brother William still in third but now 10s behind Hillier. Hickman (Trooper Beer Triumph) had overhauled Hutchinson for fourth while Johnson was only 0.1s behind the McAMS Yamaha rider in sixth.

At half race distance, and coming into the pits for fuel, Dunlop’s lead was down to 2.4s with a second lap speed of 126.015mph and it now looked a two-horse race between him and Hillier with William Dunlop now a further 15.8s adrift in third.

Hickman had closed to within 4.5s as Hutchinson remained in fifth. Dan Kneen was sixth coming into the pits but a 60s penalty, for going down pit lane in excess of 90kmh, dropped him way down the order.

Jamie Coward’s good run came to an end when he retired while eighth but at Glen Helen on the third lap, Hillier had reduced Dunlop’s lead to 1.8s while William Dunlop had pulled back an extra second over Hickman.

Dunlop had an excellent run from Glen Helen to Ballaugh, doubling his lead and by Ramsey, had increased it further still to 5.9s. As his lead was extending, the fight for the final podium position was intensifying and Hickman had nosed ahead of William Dunlop as they started their final lap.

The final 37.73 miles around the Mountain Course saw Dunlop finally pull clear and he eventually took the chequered flag by 13.2s. Hillier took his tenth TT podium in second with Hickman having another excellent ride and retaining third.

William Dunlop had to settle for fourth with Ian Hutchinson an unusually distant fifth after dominating the class in both 2015 and 2016 – his run of 11 successive podium finishes ending. Johnson completed the top six ahead of Bruce Anstey. Kneen fought his way back up to eighth as Conor Cummins and James Cowton rounded out the top ten.

The results mean that Hutchinson and Hickman are now tied at the top of the Joey Dunlop TT Championship on 36 points with Hillier only three points behind in third.

Road racing – TT 2017 is go!

D6FEF7561791462B926204A3302EACE2.ashx

After a frustrating and wet start to the 2017 Isle of Man TT races, qualifying finally got underway on Tuesday evening and last year’s headline makers – Ian Hutchinson and Michael Dunlop – immediately took up where they left off last year, setting the pace with 125mph+ laps.

Intermittent afternoon rain resulted in a number of damp patches around the 37.73-mile course, most notably at Greeba, on the approach to Glen Helen and in Governor’s Dip, but conditions were otherwise good with bright sunshine and blue skies at the start and finish of the session. It was a prompt start too as the three newcomers – Adam McLean, Paul Jordan and Joey Thompson – headed off down Glencrutchery Road slightly before the 6.20pm start.

After the sidecar newcomers left the line for their speed controlled lap, there was a slight gap before the session proper fired into life with Bruce Anstey on the Padgetts Honda first away just before 6.35pm with James Hillier, Ian Hutchinson, Josh Brookes and Lee Johnston on their Supersport mounts following the Kiwi rider down Glencrutchery Road.

Ivan Lintin, Peter Hickman and Michael Rutter were also among the early starters on their Lightweight machines while the returning Guy Martin set off slightly later on his Supersport Honda as he got his first taste of the Mountain Course on closed roads since the 2015 Senior TT.

Hutchinson, on the McAMS Yamaha, was first to complete a lap at 118.845mph with Michael Dunlop second across the line and quickest on the opening lap of TT2017 at 120.371mph. Gary Johnson was also above the 120mph mark at 120.311mph, just over half a second slower than Dunlop.

Hutchinson’s lap made him third quickest ahead of Dean Harrison and Jamie Coward (both 118.160), Hillier (117.884) and Conor Cummins (117.673). Martin’s first lap was a solid 115.808mph with Brookes back on 108.171mph. Meanwhile, Dan Kneen was reported as having stopped at Cronk y Voddy although he was able to proceed.

Second time out and Hutchinson and Dunlop both lapped in excess of 121mph, at 121.147 and 121.020 respectively. Anstey and Hillier were next with 119.794 and 119.776 respectively while Johnson was slightly slower on his second lap at 119.341. Martin improved to 117.092mph. McLean was the fastest newcomer with a fastest lap of 112.89mph.

Rutter was quickest in the Lightweight class with a speed of 113.946 on the Paton from Lintin (113.856) with Dan Cooper, Hickman and Stefano Bonetti all inside the 111mph lap barrier.

At 7.10pm it was the turn of the 1000cc machines with David Johnson first away on the Norton. The Aussie hasn’t got a Supersport bike at his disposal so waited slightly longer than other riders for his first laps of 2017.

Steve Mercer lapped at 120.906mph with Hillier (120.986) and Rutter (120.986) slightly quicker but it was that man Dunlop who was laying an early marker down on the Bennetts Suzuki and a speed of 125.680mph sent him comfortably to the top of the leaderboard.

Hutchinson cruised across the line with a lap of 122.704mph but this was only good enough for fourth as Dan Kneen slotted into second on the Penz13.com BMW with a fine lap of 124.642mph. Dean Harrison (122.853) moved up to third with Peter Hickman (121.472) and Lee Johnston (121.322) completing the top six while Guy Martin’s opening lap on the Superbike saw him post a speed of 118.739mph.

There were changes later in the session though and although Dunlop broke the 125mph barrier once more, Hutchinson took the first night honours with the fastest lap on the night with a speed of 125.839mph. Hickman (124.093) jumped up to fourth although Rutter’s lap of 124.117mph made him quickest in the Superstock class from Anstey (123.722).

Harrison looked like he would make a significant impression but he retired at the Mountain Box while Martin broke the 120mph barrier with a speed of (120.018).

Today’s qualify session is scheduled to get away at 18.20 (Superbikes, Superstock, Supersport, Newcomers (ex Lightweight) to 19.20 with Supersport, Lightweight and Newcomers all classes away from 19.20 to 19.50.

Road racing – Michael Dunlop ditches BMW for Suzuki for 2017 season

4960cb47486848589b36ac202e54c32f-ashx

Michael Dunlop is set to race the all-new GSX-R1000 in 2017, with the 13-time Isle of Man TT winner signing for the new-look Bennetts Suzuki team for the forthcoming season.

Dunlop will race the new machine at the TT, the North West 200, the Southern 100 and the Ulster Grand Prix road races, as well as contesting the opening round of the BSB championship at Donington Park in April.

The 2016 Superbike and Senior TT winner and current out-right lap-record holder has already tested the bike at shakedown test at the team’s Mallory Park, and heads to Spain for more tests at Cartagena and Almeria.

Dunlop said: “I was chatting with team manager Steve Hicken for a while, and obviously we’ve worked together a lot before. With the new bike coming it’s been a bit different and we had to gather up exactly what was happening. We just needed to see what was going to be able to happen and to see where we were both going to be at this time. I know Steve and I know Stuart though, as people, and I know they can take a new bike and get it right. This is a good team and there’s a good link with Yoshimura. It’s going to be interesting this year. I’ve been helping the team build my own bikes and it’ll be good to have a run around at Mallory for a shakedown before we go to Spain.”

Bennetts Suzuki team manager, Steve Hicken, said: “We’ve made good progress already with the development of the new GSX-R1000, and we know the potential is there with the bike. With a proven winner like Michael onboard, there’s no reason we can’t be winning races right away. That’s got to be the aim.”

The Bennetts Suzuki team now heads to Cartagena for the first of two preseason tests, before the first official BSB test at Donington Park on 22 March.

Road racing – Dunlop rejoins Hawk Racing for 2016 campaign

Dunlop

PACEMAKER BELFAST 06/06/14: Michael Dunlop on the Hawk Racing BMW superbike at Governor’s Corner during the Pokerstars Senior race at the 2014 Isle of Man TT

Leicestershire based Hawk Racing has confirmed that Michael Dunlop will race for the team on the roads for the 2016 road racing season.

Eleven time TT Race winner Dunlop, 26, will again ride the BMW S1000 RR Superbike on which he dominated the 2014 TT Races, which included a Superbike and Senior TT double.

Dunlop’s 2015 TT campaign started in controversy after he sensationally walked away from the Milwaukee Yamaha team, citing the then new Yamaha R1 as being uncompetitive and ditching the bike and the team for a BMW S1000RR. However, his campaign was hampered by an injury sustained in the opening race of the meeting, the RST Superbike Race but he still went on to record his fastest TT lap – 132.515 – which is the second fastest lap in TT history, on the final lap of the PokerStars Senior TT to finish fifth.

The Ballymoney man will also race for the team at the North West 200 and Ulster Grand Prix as well as campaigning the team’s Superbike in several BSB rounds, including Silverstone and Oulton Park, as a wild card entry.

Michael Dunlop was delighted with the move. He said: “I’m coming back to win again. I gave it my best last year but the Superbike crash wasn’t the best preparation for the Senior. My last lap at the TT reminded everyone what I can do and with these boys behind me I’m ready to race properly again.”

Hawk Racing Team Manager Steve Hicken was equally confident of renewed success. He said: “We’re delighted to have Michael back on board for 2016. We know what we have to do to get him back on the top step on the Isle of Man and with a proper lead time to prepare this year we’re looking forward to helping Michael achieve his ambitions.”

Road racing – Michael Dunlop to race new R1 at TT

image

Eleven-time TT winner Michael Dunlop will ride for the factory-supported Milwaukee Yamaha team on the all-new YZF-R1 on the roads for 2015.

The mercurial Ulsterman will race the new bike at the North West 200, the TT and Ulster Grand Prix as part of the deal, which sees Dunlop switch to an unknown package for the second consecutive year, his third different manufacturer in as many years.

The 25-year-old won the Superbike and Senior races at the TT last season for BMW, giving the German marque its first big bike successes at the TT in 75 years. Milwaukee Yamaha team owner Shaun Muir said: “We are really confident that the new R1 will prove to be more than competitive on the Isle of Man and in Michael we have the rider to deliver its potential.

“Michael Dunlop has proved himself to be the leading road racer over the last few years and his recent TT record is second to none.”

Dunlop himself said: “I’ve gone on record as saying that I’ll only race if the package is right and in the Milwaukee Yamaha team I’m confident in both the bike and the support team that will be in place. We’ve already had a look at the bike that I’ll be riding and the early indications are really good but I’m looking forward just to getting out on the track and testing it properly.”

Dunlop will be looking to add to his 11 TT Race victories, which places him fifth in the outright TT winners list. He has a fastest lap to date of 131.890mph, the fastest-ever standing start lap around the Mountain Course, which he set at the 2014 meeting.

2015 TT: Dunlop out, Suzuki out

6F8B415163164F3BA2B4723BFF163787.ashx535441A0AB32402CA7648C199A178FC3.ashxB0EB53922EB247B5AC22AFC7448875B6.ashxE333807573954D9C8B5D202359DE44C9.ashx

So it looks that 11-time TT winner Michael Dunlop is without a ride for the 2015 season, as the Northern Ireland-based TAS squad looks set to be confirmed as BMW’s officially supported team for next year’s BSB and road campaigns, breaking a long and successful partnership with Suzuki.

What that means is that Michael’s elder brother William, and the enigmatic Guy Martin, will be riding the Moneymore team’s S1000RRs, effectively leaving 25-year-old Michael out in the cold. It seems that winning BMW’s first title for 75 years and crushing all around him is no longer enough to guarantee a seat – Michael won the 2014 Superbike, Senior and Superstock TTs riding for the Buildbase Hawk BMW team, while Guy Martin landed second place in the Superbike race and third place in the Senior on the TAS Suzuki.

This isn’t the first time Michael has lost his place within a winning team – in 2013 Michael effectively priced himself out of a deal at Honda, despite dominating the TT and winning the Superbike, the Superstock and both Supersport races.

So where does this leave one of road racing’s fiercest competitors? One intriguing option could see him switch manufacturers yet again and compete aboard the all-new R1 for 2015. Mar-Train Racing announced at Brands that they were turning their back on BSB and have signed a two-year deal as Yamaha’s official road race team for the 2015 and 2016 seasons. The team will consist of one rider and will campaign the three main classes, Supersport, Superstock and Superbike in the three international road races plus selected national road races.

Another option would be to compete under his own banner, but one thing is certain; there’s no chance he’ll take a year’s sabbatical, like he threatened after losing his Honda deal. “I have 11 TT trophies on my mantelpiece and only three were won on a BMW, so I plan to be back with another manufacturer. I will wait and see what happens, but I can assure you I will be back to win lost more TTs and North West 200s next season and beyond.”

Any angry Michael Dunlop with a point to prove? BMW, Honda and Bruce Anstey had better watch out…Ian Hutchinson’s haul of five victories might just be equalled, and we might also see the first sub 17-minute lap. 2015’s TT promises to be spectacular…