MICHAEL Dunlop produced a record-breaking performance as he trounced the opposition to win the opening race of the 2012 Southern 100 on the Isle of Man last night.
Dunlop set a new outright lap record for the 4.25-mile Billown circuit near Castletown at an average speed of 112.589mph to better his previous benchmark at the popular road race meeting on his way to victory in the Corlett’s Trophies 600/1000cc event.
The 23-year-old was eager to make up for the disappointment of losing out to arch-rival Ryan Farquhar on the final lap of the Grand Final at the Skerries 100 on Saturday and he delivered in style on his Hunts Motorcycles/McAdoo Honda Fireblade.
The three-times TT winner, who started from pole position after lapping at 109mph in practice, blasted into the lead on the first lap and never looked back as he stretched his lead with every lap before easing the pace to seize victory by three seconds from Tyco Suzuki’s Guy Martin.
Farquhar had been holding third place for much of the race on his KMR Kawasaki but was reeled in by Manx favourite Conor Cummins on the second Tyco Suzuki, who snatched the final place on the rostrum on the last lap.
Ian Lougher and impressive newcomer Jamie Hamilton on the KMR Kawasaki rounded out the first six.
Afterwards, an elated Dunlop proclaimed: “I’m back – that’s what you call real racing with a fast circuit, fast corners and good lads.
“There was oil coming from the bike so it was good craic over the bumps with the feet off the pegs.”
On his lap record, set on the fourth lap, he added: “That’ll do, I like that. It’s not bad is it?”
Runner-up Martin was less enthusiastic with his runner-up finish on the GSX-R1000 and is looking ahead to the next Superbike race this evening.
“Second is second, isn’t it?” Martin said. “This is the best meeting of the year and we’ve got a couple more big bike races to come.”
Cummins, who is among the entries for the Armoy road races at the end of this month, was thrilled to be back on the podium after missing the Isle of Man TT due to a wrist injury sustained at the North West 200.
“It’s lovely to be back on the podium after all the pain in the backside I’ve had over the past couple of month,” said the 26-year-old.
Dunlop – last year’s man of the meeting at the Southern 100 – streaked into the lead from the off and led by half a second from Farquhar at the end of lap one, with Martin in hot pursuit.
After three laps his advantage at the front was 1.6s over Martin, who moved into second ahead of Farquhar with Cummins and Lougher next.
Dunlop smashed the lap record on his fourth lap to end Martin’s brief challenge and extended his lead to four seconds on the penultimate lap before slackening the pace on his final circuit to cross the line three seconds clear.
Ivan Lintin won the concurrently run 600cc event, setting a new lap record for the race at 106.307mph on his Kawasaki to break Darran Lindsay’s 2005 effort.
Jamie Coward was the second 600cc rider across the line, followed by Northern Ireland pair Seamus Elliott and Stephen McKnight.
The action continues this evening with the Senior race (6.20pm) followed by the 250cc/Supertwin event, the first Supersport race and the opening 125cc race.
Tim Reeves and Dan Sayle won the Sidecar race from Ian and Carl Bell with Ben and Tom Birchall third.
RESULT: Corlett’s Trophies 600/1000cc race – 1, M Dunlop, 2, G Martin, 3, C Cummins, 4, R Farquhar, 5, I Lougher, 6, J Hamilton, 7, D Harrison, 8, M Pearson.
New lap record: M Dunlop 112.589mph.