Michael Dunlop looks poised to round off the Irish road racing season in style at the Country Crest Killalane road races in north County Dublin.
The 23-year-old has been virtually unbeatable on his Hunts Motorcycles/McAdoo Honda Fireblade since the Isle of Man TT in June, winning the premier races at Walderstown, the Southern 100 and Armoy and taking a brace in the Superbike class at the Ulster Grand Prix, which included victory in the Dundrod 150 feature event.
Following his arch-rival Ryan Farquhar’s decision last week to quit road racing following the death of his uncle, Trevor Ferguson, at the Manx Grand Prix, Dunlop is a massive favourite for the Open and Grand Final races at Killalane.
His older brother William opted not to ride Wilson Craig’s Honda Superbike to Killalane and will instead rely on Craig’s 600cc machine as he bids to sign off on a wining note for the Co Londonderry team owner.
William told the News Letter he “isn’t at Killalane to finish second” as he sets his sights on more Supersport success and his first victory in the class at the Irish meeting.
“I’m not here to finish second and that’s a fact,” said Dunlop, who has tasted glory in the Supersport division at the North West 200 and Ulster GP this season, providing Craig with his maiden international road race victories.
“I’ve never won a 600 race at Killalane and I’ve got two races, because the Darran Lindsay race is on Saturday evening after practice and then we’ve another one on Sunday.
“I don’t have the Superbike with me but I’ll see what my times are like in practice and then decide whether or not to do the big races on the 600.”
William could well have it all his own way in the 600cc class should Michael decide against competing on his GSX-R600 Suzuki, which was lagging well off the pace on top speed at Dundrod last month.
“I don’t know yet if I’ll go out on the Suzuki or not,” Michael said.
“It could be pointless because William’s bike is just so much faster than anything else.
“But I’ve got the big girl with me and we’all be looking for a good run on Sunday,” added the younger Dunlop, who stood on the top step at Manx Grand Prix last Friday after he won the Classic Superbike race, dedicating his win to the memory of Trevor Ferguson.
“I go well around Killalane on the big bike regardless of who’s there, but you can’t take anything for granted in this game.
“It’ll be nice to get the season over because it’s hot and heavy going at times and it’s a long year.
“I’ve got Scarborough next weekend and then we’ll be able to get a bit of a rest.”
The entry at Killalane also includes Adrian Archibald, Derek Sheils, Brian McCormack, Davy Morgan and Michael Pearson, who will ride for Yorkshire outfit Team Hotties this weekend.
Roads close for practice today at 1pm, with two races scheduled to take place after practice (time permitting) including a non-championship 600cc event and the 250cc/350cc Classic A Irish Championship race.
Tomorrow, roads will close at 9.30am sharp for a nine-race programme.