Michael Dunlop tops both Superstock and Supersport leaderboards after practice week on the Isle of Man, and following his second place in Saturday’s TT Superbike event, where he also joined the exclusive 130mph club, the 21-year-old Ballymoney flyer will be looking for Mona’s Isle success during today’s production race double-header.
Dunlop took last year’s second Supersport victory in less than perfect conditions, but the loquacious youngster was less than happy after a number of negative post event reviews, and will undoubtedly be looking to silence his critics in the four-lap encounter.
Riding the Street Sweep Yamaha, Dunlop has dominated almost every practice session in the Supersport class with a fastest lap of 126.395mph, proving that he can match the pace of pre-race favourites Ian Hutchinson and Bruce Anstey on dry roads — and for me he’s the favourite for today’s Supersport race one which starts at 10.45am.
Hutchinson will be riding on the crest of a wave after Saturday’s Superbike TT victory and the Padgetts Honda rider will be looking to make it a hat-trick of victories in the class.
But one man who could stop them both is Bruce Anstey, the current class lap record holder.
The Kiwi had a lacklustre Superbike race on Saturday, but loves the ‘proddie’ bike races and has two TT career victories in the middleweight division, coming in 2003 on the all British Triumph and in 2008 for his current team Relentless by TAS Suzuki.
Others worth a mention are Honda trio Keith Amor, Guy Martin and John McGuinness, with William Dunlop and Ryan Farquhar an outside bet for the podium in one of the most equally matched classes at this year’s event.
In the 1000cc Superstock class, Dunlop was also on fire, recording a 128.324mph lap during Friday night’s final session putting him at the top of the leaderboard on the Hunts Honda; but for me, Keith Amor will be the man to watch on the all-new Corless/Jackson Racing BMW.
Amor has also posted a lap of 128mph, and if the big ‘beemer’ can stick with it for 150-mile race duration — I can see the 38-year-old Falkirk man taking his second international Superstock victory this season.
Ryan Farquhar is always super consistent in the Superstock class, and having virtually matched Amor and Dunlop’s pace with a 128mph lap of his own on the KMR Kawasaki, the Dungannon man will be quietly confident of taking his first TT victory since 2005.
Michael Rutter (HM Plant Honda), Guy Martin (Wilson Craig Honda] and Ian Hutchinson [Padgetts Honda) should also be in the mix for honours, with Relentless Suzuki’s Cameron Donald (the 2008 winner) and Padgett Honda’s John McGuinness, dark horses to upset the practice week stats sheet.