Tyco Suzuki team manager Philip Neill says William Dunlop ‘came of age’ in Friday’s blue riband PokerStars Senior TT, which ended in a terrifying crash for the Ballymoney star.
Dunlop was in contention for a top-three finish on the GSX-R1000 until he came off at high-speed at Graham Memorial on the Mountain section of the notorious 37.73-mile course on the third lap.
The 28-year-old incredibly escaped largely unscathed after breaking his left fibula and had returned to the paddock on crutches within a few hours after being airlifted from the scene to Noble’s Hospital.
Dunlop had made a flying start to the race and held the lead at Ramsey by less than a second from his brother Michael, who emerged as the eventual race winner on the factory-backed BMW as he completed his second successive four-timer to claim a stunning 11th TT victory.
He was firmly in the mix following two blistering opening laps at 130.466mph and 130.853mph – his fastest ever at the TT – until disaster struck on the third lap.
Despite the unfortunate outcome, team boss Neill saw enough to convince him that his new signing has developed into a serious player in the Superbike class at the international road races.
“In Superbike terms I believe William came of age in the Senior TT and firmly established himself as a challenger at international level,” said Neill.
“What a shame a small mistake resulted in a crash and ended his podium challenge. However, the most important thing is that he is relatively unscathed, considering this was a high-speed crash, but he will be back racing very soon.”
Dunlop, who was back at home in Ballymoney on Sunday, hopes to be return to the saddle within four weeks in readiness for the Metzeler Ulster Grand Prix at Dundrod.
“I had been suffering a bit of arm-pump all week and I think with the extra tension with leading and then being in contention for the win made it a little worse,” he said.
“I could hardly feel the bars, but when you are getting P1 and P2 signals there’s no way you are going to back off. I think I just ran into Graham Memorial with a little bit of throttle still on and the rest, well…
“It’s just the small bone in my leg I’ve broken and I’m a little battered and bruised but I hope to be ready to ride in four weeks.”
Dunlop finished sixth in the Dainese Superbike race last Saturday and clinched a podium with third position in the second Supersport race behind Michael and Bruce Anstey.