Belfast Telegraph

Michael Dunlop has time to catch Joey

By Paul Lindsay

Michael Dunlop will start as clear favourite in today’s six-lap blue riband Senior TT on the Isle of Man.

The Ballymoney lad will be looking for his fourth victory of TT2014, which would give him a staggering eight wins in the last two years — and 11 overall.

That would bring the BMW Motorrad man level with another Ulster legend, Phillip McCallen.

And no-one would be more delighted than McCallen himself if Dunlop pulls it off.

Indeed, the Portadown man believes Michael could ultimately overhaul his uncle Joey’s all-time record of 26 victories on the island.

“Long term, you have to be looking at him beating Joey’s total,” said McCallen.

“He has at least another 10 years left in him and he’s already the best road racer in the world.”

But could Michael’s old adversary on the national roads in Ireland, Ryan Farquhar, steal tomorrow’s headlines on his return to the Island after a two year sabbatical with victory in this morning’s TT Lightweight class?

Farquhar’s KMR/SGS International Kawasaki team fired up a headline-making frenzy at the start of the year when the Dungannon man announced his return to racing, following a late night Social Media, ‘old boys’ retirement club pact’ with wise cracking Scottish ace Keith Amor.

Former Grand Prix racer Jeremy McWilliams was retained in the KMR Club, following his NW200 victory the previous season and with a combined age of 130 years, many thought the trio would have been of more sagacious mind than to set-up a high profile triplicate of international road racing aspirations in the twilight of their careers.

The North West 200 didn’t quite deliver the results Farquhar would have expected, with a plethora of mechanical problems and a few grass tracking expeditions, delivered by both his experienced and youthful new team members.

But a wounded Ryan Farquhar is a dangerous animal, quickly manifest by his 116.840mph Supertwin lap during practice and qualifying last Saturday night on the Isle of Man.

Only Ivan Lintin on the McKinstry Racing ER6 Kawasaki has gone quicker than the former Killyman resident, with a lap speed of 117.297mph, five seconds faster.

Farquhar’s last TT win came in the 2012 Lightweight race, which was the inaugural year for hybrid 650cc machines. He then ostensibly retired his services to management following the untimely death of his uncle Trevor Ferguson at the Manx Grand Prix in the same year, aboard his very own machine.

A year away from competition has seemingly mellowed one of Dungannon’s famous sons, who now enjoys late nights tinkering machinery in his garage.

Although Farquhar may well say ‘I’m just happy to be here’, he’s not one to go racing just to waste fuel and burn off some expensive tyres..

Both he and Dunlop have the Marmite factor.

But love or loathe them, every man, woman or child standing behind a hedge or wall around the Isle of Man TT circuit today —or those at home tuned into the crackly reception on Manx radio — will have hairs standing on the back of their neck, should either of our proud Ulstermen climb onto a rostrum top step on Glencrutchery Road.

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