Michael Dunlop delighted after record-breaking Classic triumph on Isle of Man
Michael Dunlop reclaimed his Formula 1 Classic TT crown on the Isle of Man in record-breaking fashion yesterday following a breathtaking performance on Steve Wheatman's Team Classic XR69 Suzuki.
Dunlop had to play second fiddle to Kiwi Bruce Anstey, on the former Grand Prix 500cc Yamaha, in the early exchanges but a broken exhaust forced the Padgett's rider to make an unscheduled second pit stop at the end of lap three.
Anstey fought back bravely to take second place, with his race-long effort including a new lap record of a staggering 126.261mph, but the top step of the podium belonged to Dunlop.
Dungannon's Ryan Farquhar took third place on an air-cooled Team Winfield Yamaha, just two seconds down on Anstey after four pulsating laps, with James Hillier (Kawasaki), David Johnson (Suzuki) and Jamie Coward (Kawasaki) rounding out the top six.
Fermanagh's Lee Johnston came home in seventh on the second of the Team Classic Racing XR69 Suzukis.
Speaking afterwards, Dunlop, who shaved 96 seconds from the previous Classic TT F1 race record, said: "Bruce got it all his own way last year, but we've proven that we can win races with the correct machinery and I'm also just getting back to full fitness.
"Bruce's bike is a lot lighter than the Suzuki, but I've shown what I can do on Steve's bike and I was really up for a fight on that last lap."
Dunlop pushed his own personal best in the F1 class up to 125.05mph on the fourth and final circuit. When told the news, he said: "I had a bit of an oil leak, but to take this bike to a 125mph lap is just fantastic, and that's after I had backed off when I saw I had such a big lead."
Sounding relaxed and at one with his Team Classic Suzuki squad, he then heaped praise on Wheatman's team and machinery. He said: "The wee bike was just fantastic; the team gave me a great pit stop and to go on and beat a GP bike like that - well, what more can I say."
Poking a bit of friendly fun at second-placed man Anstey, he concluded: "He's just lucky he didn't see how hard I was prepared to ride on that last lap. I rode hard and I rode deep. He didn't scare me."
Anstey's lead over Dunlop at the end of lap two was some 12 seconds, but a lengthy pit stop at the end of the second circuit left him playing catch-up on lap three.
He did reduce the deficit to less than a second at the Bungalow, but the unscheduled pit stop to repair his exhaust left him with an uphill task in the final 38 miles of racing.
Paradoxically, to fight back and steal second place away from Farquhar in the closing exchanges was a magnificent effort.
Magnanimous in defeat, Anstey simply said: "I rode my heart out. To do a 126mph lap on a 20-year-old bike and to finish in second place - I can't really complain at all."
Farquhar was equally delighted with his podium, which was his first finish this year in all competition on the TT course.
The Dungannon man said: "To wrestle a big heavy bike like the Yamaha around here with sweat dripping in my eyes - I have to be happy about that."
After a lengthy delay due to a technical problem with communication equipment, Michael Rutter clinched victory in yesterday morning's Okells 350cc Classic TT race, with Ryan Kneen emerging as the victor in the Formula 2 event.