Dean Harrison dominated the opening race of the 2019 Isle of Man Steam Packet Southern 100 to seal his 19th victory at the Billown course in the Ellan Vannin Fuels Senior race.
The reigning Senior TT champion was in a league of his own as pole man Harrison shot into the lead from the off on the Silicone Engineering Kawasaki and disappeared into the distance.
Harrison set the fastest lap of the seven-lap race with a speed of 114.019mph as he opened a commanding gap of 11 seconds over Ballymoney man Michael Dunlop, who was well clear of Jamie Coward (Prez Racing Yamaha) in third.
The 30-year-old, who is aiming to win the Solo Championship race for the third time in a row on Thursday, said: “It was good and the bike was spot on, although we had a couple of little issues, not major. The Metzeler tyres were working really well.
“I felt really comfortable to be honest and there’s a lot more to come if needs be. I get nervous around here but it was good to get the first race out of the way and settle myself down,” he added.
“I feel most comfortable on that bike. We’ve a few little issues with the 600 but we’ll how that goes.”
Runner-up Dunlop, back at the event for the first time since 2017, said he was struggling with his Tyco BMW Superbike.
“That thing there is like hanging around with your wife’s boyfriend – sometimes you just have to do it,” he said.
“It’s just not doing what I want it to do and it’s disappointing at the minute. No matter what we seem to do it doesn’t seem to make a change, but we’ll just keep battering away.
“We got caught on the first lap badly and then Dean just cleared off, which we knew he’d do. We’ll deal with what we’ve got and we’ll be all right.”
Dunlop was lying in third place on the opening lap behind Rob Hodson but had moved into second position by the end of the lap as he took up the chase after Harrison.
However, there was no catching the Bradford rider, whose advantage over the Ulsterman was 5.6 seconds by the end of lap two.
Harrison closed out a routine victory in the end by 10.5 seconds, with Dunlop and Coward crossing the line on their own.
Hodson got the better of Manxman Ryan Kneen for fourth place, with Sam West completing the top six.
Michael Sweeney finished eighth behind Joe Ackroyd.