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Michael Dunlop win overshadowed by Karl Harris death

By Paul Lindsay

An emotional Michael Dunlop took yesterday’s RL360 TT Superstock victory in the Isle of Man, elevating the precocious Ballymoney lad onto nine career wins around the Mountain Course — where he joins such riders as third placed finisher Bruce Anstey, 70s racer Charlie Williams and the late great David Jefferies.

Sadly the race was overshadowed by the death of three-time former British Supersport champion Karl Harris.

The 34-year-old crashed his Kawasaki on the fourth and final lap on the run over the Mountain, in an incident also involving Manxman Joe Faragher, who sustained a broken leg.

It’s the second fatality at the event in just 24 hours, following the death of 65-year-old competitor Bob Price at Ballaugh Bridge during Monday’s TT Supersport race.

Yesterday’s Superstock race was delayed by over an hour after a Manx local lost his life in a road traffic collision in the north of the island.

Recounting his win, Dunlop — who has won the TT Superstock three times now in the past four years — said of his 20 second victory over Dean Harrison: “I’ve won on Honda, Kawasaki and now BMW stockers round here.

“The BMW boys did a fantastic job and the tyres were just beautiful,” was his metaphorical enlightenment of the grip afforded him by his Dunlop rubber.

The 25-year-old took control of proceedings from the first checkpoint on lap one at Glen Helen on his MD Racing BMW S1000RR S4, closely followed by second placed finisher Harrison and Monday’s TT Supersport race one winner Gary Johnson.

At Ramsey Hairpin on lap one, Johnson had elevated himself into second place, just over a second down on Dunlop. But it all ended just a matter of seconds later when the Lincolnshire rider crashed his Lincs Lifting Kawasaki on the run to Water Works — with a helicopter flight to Noble’s Hospital his next port of call with a broken collarbone and fractured vertebrae.

At the end of the lap, following a standing start effort of 129.588mph, Dunlop held a six second advantage over Harrison on the RC Express Kawasaki, with Valvoline Honda’s Anstey a further four seconds adrift in third.

James Hillier, Conor Cummins and Guy Martin were disputing the lower top six leaderboard positions, with Michael Rutter, Dan Kneen, Aussie Dave Johnson and Fermanagh’s Lee Johnson making up the top 10 at the end of the opening lap.

BMW-mounted Dunlop extended his lead over Harrison to 11 seconds at the end of lap two, with Anstey still third, albeit stretching his advantage over fourth placed Cummins, whose slow pit stop would drop him down the leader board to sixth on lap three at Glen Helen.

For the final 75 miles, Dunlop entered into mechanical sympathy mode, nursing his German machinery to his second win of TT2014 for BMW, and the ninth and counting in his short but illustrious TT career.

Forty one races on the Mountain Course have produced 29 finishes, 25 top 10s and nine wins for Dunlop, who paid tribute to his favourite fortnight of the racing season afterwards.

“I’m only a young lad but I’ve now got nine TT wins,” he said. “This place is special. Every year is special as I go racing to win TT races. Hopefully I’ve a few years left in me yet to add to those nine.”

Second placed man Harrison, who is emerging as one of the TT’s brightest new stars, said: “The only fault is that we had no quickshifter, but the RC Express bike was mint.

“It was difficult trying to change gear mid corner without the shifter, but you can’t get beaten by a better man than Michael.”

Nine-times winner Anstey, who has been on a TT podium every year since the Millennium season, said of his third place: “I had a big slide after my pit stop through Glen Helen, so I just took it steady and brought it home.”

Aussie Dave Johnson had his best ever TT finish taking fourth place ahead of Honda-mounted Cummins, with Lee Johnston sixth on the Pirtek East Coast Honda.

Newcomer Peter Hickman had a fabulous ride to ninth, but it was a dreary day for Tyco Suzuki — both Guy Martin and William Dunlop retired with mechanical problems.

Today will see the TT Zero race under way at 10.45am with Mugen riders Anstey and John McGuinness favourites in the battery powered challenge over one lap of the Mountain Course.

TT Supersport Race Two will follow at 12pm and with race one winner Gary Johnson out of action, following his crash in yesterday’s Superstock encounter, Anstey will start favourite on the Valvoline by Padgetts Honda.

Michael Dunlop will be gunning for his third win of the week.

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