TT 2016: Dunlop lights up Superbike practice with 132mph lap

Michael Dunlop on the Hawk Racing BMW at the K-Tree during Isle of Man TT practice.
Michael Dunlop on the Hawk Racing BMW at the K-Tree during Isle of Man TT practice.
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Michael Dunlop provided the major talking points at the Isle of Man TT on Thursday evening as the Northern Ireland rider set an incredible 132mph lap to head the Superbike times.

Dunlop also unofficially shattered his own Superstock lap record in warm and sunny conditions on the Isle of Man as the 27-year-old moves up a gear ahead of tomorrow’s scheduled six-lap RST Superbike race, which is pencilled in for an 11am start.

The 11-time winner opted to go out on his MD Racing BMW Superstock machine at the beginning of the session and after a standing start lap of 125.352mph, he put the hammer down to better his 2013 benchmark of 131.220mph – set on a Honda – as he recorded a blistering speed of 131.336mph (17m 14.206s).

Dunlop was less than three seconds slower on his Superstock machine than Bingley Bullet Ian Hutchinson on his Superbike, who banged in his first 131mph lap this week as the Yorkshireman opened up with an electrifying speed of 131.661mph from a standing start on the Tyco BMW (17m 11.649s).

Hutchy was slightly slower on his second lap but was again into the 131mph bracket with a speed of 131.111mph, but the best was yet to come from Dunlop, who was now out on his full-blown BMW Superbike.

He fired in an opening speed of 130.884mph from a standing start before embarking on a scorching lap, striking a psychological blow to remain rooted to the top of the Superbike standings with a lap of 132.365mph (17m 06.164s) as the session was flagged off, leaving him almost five-and-a-half seconds quicker than BMW rival Hutchinson.

Bruce Anstey came off at Keppel Gate but was reported to be up and walking, although he may have suffered an ankle injury.

Honda Racing’s John McGuinness – the outright lap record holder – lapped at 131.116mph on the CBR1000RR Fireblade on his second lap to go third fastest, with team-mate Conor Cummins managing 129.986mph, also set on his second lap.

Dean Harrison missed out on a 130mph lap by a whisker on the Silicone Engineering Kawasaki as he clocked 129.968mph from a standing start on the ZX-10R, while James Hillier – who finished on the rostrum in the Superbike and Senior races last year – rounded out the top six in Thursday’s times with a speed of 128.55mph on the Quattro Plant Muc-Off Kawasaki.

Fermanagh’s Lee Johnston has been building his pace and was seventh fastest on the East Coast/Burdens BMW at 128.342mph ahead of Michael Rutter on the Bathams SMT BMW (128.340mph).

Aussie David Johnson set the fastest ever laps recorded on the Norton as he powered around the 37.73-mile Mountain Course at 128.323mph from a standing start, while William Dunlop will take heart from a 128mph lap on his new Yamaha R1, which left him tenth fastest.

Michael Dunlop’s stunning Superstock speed put him well clear in the Superstock times, with Rutter second quickest on Thursday evening at 127.815mph and Steve Mercer on the Jackson Racing Honda slotting into third (126.946mph).

Tyco BMW’s Hutchinson, though, is second quickest overall on the Superstock leaderboard after topping the times on Wednesday with a 130mph lap.

Morecambe Missile McGuinness set a lap of 126.328mph on the EMC Bet Victor Honda with Gary Johnson timed at 126.113mph on the Penz13.com BMW.