Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 20 April 2014

Michael Dunlop has right fit for glory

Michael Dunlop (MD Racing Honda) leads Bruce Anstey (HM Plant Padgetts Honda), John McGuinness (HM Plant Padgetts Honda) and James Hillier (Quattro Plant Kawasaki) at the Gooseneck during Monday's Monster Energy Supersport Race 1 over the Mountain Course during the IOM TT 2013

All eyes will be on Michael Dunlop once again as he targets his fourth win at TT 2013 in the second Monster Energy Supersport race.

Already with wins in the Superbike, first Supersport and record breaking Superstock race under his belt the world's media are running out of adjectives to describe his performances to date.

They'll have the space of four laps to think about it when the race begins at 12noon.

However, it could be argued that the 24-year old Ballymoney man's success and recognition has been long overdue when you consider that in each of the last two years he retired when leading the first Supersport race, both retirements at the same spot – Ballig Bridge.

Coupled with other rostrum finishes eluding him through mechanical failure the question this year is what has changed?

Steve Plater former North West 200 and TT winner, commenting on Michael's success this week said: "He has matured, he is leaner and fitter, but equally as determined and brave as ever. Joining the Honda Legends Team was the final little piece in the jigsaw, as he has the technical support and machines to take him to the next level."

Michael himself said: "Everything has fallen into place perfectly this year and we have had a lot of miles under the belt before we came to the Isle of Man, not like last year when my own team was put together just a few weeks before the season started and we had no track time worth talking about.

"I have a group of people behind me who put 110 per cent into ensuring I have the tools to do the job.

"With the TT Legends Honda Team I have been to the Bol d'Or Endurance race putting miles on the clock and as everybody knows they provide machinery capable of winning; it is then up to me to be up for the job and I believe I have proved that so far this week.

"It was great to have the likes of Clive Padgett coming and congratulating me on the Superstock lap record and to hear John McGuinness, the boss around the TT, compliment my riding as he did means a lot to me."

McGuinness, 19-time TT winner said after Michael's Superstock victory on Monday: "He came past me at the 11th Milestone and I tried to hang on, but he was riding at an incredible pace. It is the Dunlop show at the moment, as he has lifted the game to the next level and we have no answer to him so far."

Of course, the torturous 37 and three-quarters mile Mountain Circuit is renowned for throwing a spanner in the works and nothing is guaranteed with Dunlop's rivals looking to get the better of the PTR prepared MD Racing Honda.

Toughest opposition may come from older brother William, who was slightly disappointed with his third place finish on Monday.

"I was happy with the rostrum, but I know the Milwaukee Yamaha is the best bike out there and it is up to me to get the best out of it with no excuses. If I do that I can win," said William.

Valmoto MV Agusta mounted Gary Johnson will look to put the disappointment of Monday's retirement in the first Supersport race behind him.

Guy Martin said of Monday's race: "The wee Tyco Suzuki was working okay, but lacked a little punch. A few changes will hopefully see us closer to 'the man' (Michael) today."

Bruce Anstey, runner-up on Monday will have had another day to recover from a bout of flu and will be stronger on the HM Plant Padgetts Honda while team mate McGuinness can never be discounted from any TT race.

Cameron Donald, twice runner-up in 2012, was seventh on Monday and will look to be closer to the front on Wilson Craig's Honda while James Hillier is another podium contender, as is Dean Harrison.

Today also sees the second sidecar race with Dundrod based Tim Reeves looking to make it a TT winning double after Saturday's first race success.

First away today is the pioneering TT Zero single lap race for electric machines with Michael Rutter and John McGuinness the leading contenders aiming for a lap close to 110mph, which would be sensational in its own right.