Michael Dunlop could become the first rider in Isle of Man TT history to crack the 132mph barrier in Saturday’s titanic Dainese Superbike TT (11am).
Dunlop recorded his fastest ever lap of the Mountain Course during final practice in perfect conditions on Friday night, blasting his factory-backed BMW Motorrad S1000RR around the 37.73-mile course at 131.501mph to take over at the top of the Superbike charts.
The 25-year-old’s explosive lap was around six seconds faster than Bruce Anstey in second place on the Valvoline Padgett’s Honda, who managed a best speed earlier in the week of 130.86mph.
Dunlop claimed his maiden win in the blue riband class in last year’s Superbike TT on the Honda Legends Fireblade and starts Saturday’s showdown as the favourite to repeat his success following Friday night’s blistering performance.
His time was only 1.3 seconds outside the outright lap record of 131.671mph set by 20-time TT winner John McGuinness in 2013 and rest assured, there is plenty more to come.
In the right conditions, the Ballymoney rider looks on course to smash the 132mph milestone as he bids for his eighth TT victory.
Dunlop said: “That felt really good - the BMW is really coming together now. We’ve still got some work to do on the bike, but it’s getting there. I think we could even go quicker on the Superbike.
“I don’t think you can be confident about the TT, but tomorrow should be good. I’ll keep my head down and battle on,” added Dunlop, who was back on Dunlop tyres last night for the first time this season after switching from Metzeler.
“If I can be good enough to win, well, we’ll see what happens.”
Tyco Suzuki’s Guy Martin was third fastest in the Superbike class in the final session behind Anstey (130.642mph) on the GSX-R1000 at 130.102mph followed by Morecambe’s McGuinness on the Honda Racing Fireblade, who lapped at 129.790mph.
Lincolnshire’s Gary Johnson, meanwhile, has enjoyed a strong practice week after topping the times in the Superstock and Supersport classes.
Johnson lapped at 130.207mph to set the best time of the week on his Lincs Lifting Kawasaki ZX-10R from Bradford rider Dean Harrison on the RC Express Kawasaki (129.990mph) and Dunlop on his MD Racing BMW at 129.33mph.
In the 600cc class, Johnson set the pace on the Smiths Triumph with a speed of 125.934mph with William Dunlop next on the Tyco Suzuki at 124.475mph last night followed by Keith Amor (124.356mph).
Michael Dunlop, however, was second fastest on the combined times after his lap of 124.530mph on Thursday.
Milwaukee Yamaha’s Josh Brookes also impressed, bettering his best speed from 2013 with a lap of 127.991mph on the YZF-R1.
A number of riders were involved in incidents on Friday evening, including Northern Ireland’s Shaun Anderson, who came off at Guthrie’s Memorial. He was treated by medics at the scene, but later received the all-clear.
Neil Champion suffered a spill at Greeba Castle but escaped with minor injuries, while newcomer Callum Laidlaw was off at Governor’s but walked away unhurt.
The first Sidecar race also takes place on Saturday over three laps from 2pm.