Isle of Man TT retro: Michael Dunlop ‘proves doubters wrong’

Two years after he achieved his ambition of winning a race at the Isle of Man TT, Michael Dunlop felt he proved a point as the Ballymoney man triumphed in the 2011 Superstock event.

Friday, 11th June 2021, 5:46 pm

Dunlop, who was narrowly kept off the top step of the rostrum in the second Supersport race in 2010 when Ian Hutchinson completed a historic five-timer, was delighted to win his maiden ‘big bike’ race around the Mountain Course 10 years ago.

Dunlop, then aged 22, had been left bitterly disappointed after he was forced out while leading the Monday Supersport race on the Street Sweep Yamaha, but he fought back hours later to seal a coveted victory on his MD Racing/Street Sweep Kawasaki ZX-10R.

The Supersport race favourite suffered a second retirement on his Street Sweep Yamaha early in Wednesday’s second race, denying him the chance of his first double.

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Michael Dunlop rounds the Gooseneck on his way to winning the 2011 Superstock race at the Isle of Man TT.
Michael Dunlop rounds the Gooseneck on his way to winning the 2011 Superstock race at the Isle of Man TT.

Later, he told me his Superstock triumph proved he was more than simply a ‘600 specialist’.

“I should have won those two 600 races at the TT,” said Dunlop.

“If I had kept riding at the pace I was going, none of the others would have seen me.

“I could have been coming away from the TT with a hat-trick, but that’s just the way it can go at the TT.

“At least I managed to get another win and all credit to my team, because after what happened in the Superbike race with the problem with the rear wheel in the pits, and then the disappointment in the Supersport races, everybody stuck together, we worked hard and we got the win in the Superstock race,” he added.

John McGuinness really wanted to win that Superstock race because he’s never done it before and he even said to me he was trying.”

Dunlop said he had some handling issues to contend with on the Kawasaki during the race but felt a 130mph lap would have been possible if the race had gone ahead in warmer temperatures.

“It was good to win on the Kawasaki and we managed to do it even though we had some handling issues with the bike,” he said.

“I nearly managed a 130mph lap but it was a really cold night [race delayed until the evening] and that didn’t help the bike’s performance.

“I tried to ride smooth and steady because that’s the way to be fast at the TT and I didn’t want to do anything silly, like break a chain over Ballaugh Bridge or anything.

“Sometimes I can be a bit ragged but I was mostly smooth this year around the island.

“After the 600 races I was nearly ready for two lead blocks and a dip in the sea, so when we got the win it sparked us all up again,” Dunlop added.

“The best thing about it was that everyone was on equal bikes and it all comes down to ability. I’m glad to win a ‘big bike’ race because I think people only thought I could do it on a 600.”

The young Ulsterman was 1.5 seconds down on Relentless TAS Suzuki’s Guy Martin after the opening lap, but Dunlop wound up the wick with the fastest lap of the race at 129.71mph on his second lap to move to the front on corrected time by 14 seconds.

He continued to pull clear of Martin and the hard-charging John McGuinness (Padgett’s Honda), eventually wrapping up his second TT win by 18.5 seconds.

McGuinness overhauled Martin to secure the runner-up spot by four seconds, with Scotsman Keith Amor (Honda) in fourth.

William Dunlop squeezed out his Wilson Craig Honda team-mate Cameron Donald by around four tenths of a second to take fifth.

Following Dunlop’s demise in the Supersport opener, Kiwi Bruce Anstey took the honours by eight seconds from Amor, with Martin edging out Gary Johnson by a second to secure the final place on the podium.

Lincolnshire’s Johnson made amends in the second race as he claimed his maiden Isle of Man TT success on the East Coast Honda by over eight seconds from McGuinness, with Martin third.

Honda TT Legends rider McGuinness won the Superbike and Senior races respectively, beating Cameron Donald and Martin to boost his tally of wins to 17.

It was the Morecambe man’s first wins in the blue riband class at the TT since his Superbike victory in 2009, when McGuinness was a retirement in the Senior with a broken chain, gifting the win to his HM Plant Honda team-mate Steve Plater.

In 2010, he suffered two retirements in the Superbike and Senior races as Ian Hutchinson made history with a clean sweep of five solo victories.

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