Michael Dunlop ready to push himself to the limit in TT battle with Hutchinson
Michael Dunlop and Ian Hutchinson will continue their quest for TT supremacy when they renew their on-track battle in the opening four-lap Monster Energy Supersport race on the Isle of Man this morning (10.45am), which is followed by the RL360 Quantum TT Superstock race over the same distance at 2pm.
The Supersport class has been somewhat overlooked by the media in the build-up to this year's event, most likely down to the fact that Ballymoney man Dunlop and Bingley ace Hutchinson have played a cat and mouse game in the 1000cc classes, seemingly breaking lap records for fun in the glorious Manx sunshine.
During the event's practice week, both Hutchinson - who has battled back to the top of the sport after sustaining horrific injuries following a crash at Silverstone in 2010 - and Dunlop dipped inside the old outright lap record set in last year's Senior TT by Honda Racing legend - and 23-time winner - John McGuinness at a whopping 132.701mph.
The dynamic Dunlop - nephew of the late, great 26-time TT winner Joey - went on to raise the bar to a seemingly unassailable level during Saturday's six-lap RST TT Superbike race with his remarkable standing start opening lap of 133.399mph the first of the newly formed '133 club'.
But as Dunlop so often does, he finds something that no one else seems capable of producing, and on his second lap he pushed the bar up another notch, posting the TT's first-ever sub 17-minute lap.
He tripped the timing beam after 16 minutes, 58.254 seconds to record a 133.393mph, making him the founder, and quite frankly the only member of his new club, which he is aiming to re-name in Friday's six-lap blue riband Senior TT.
As nonchalant as we have come to expect from the 12-time Isle of Man TT winner, he simply said afterwards: "My aim is to lift the bar in the next (Superbike) race. There's definitely a 134 or 135 in me and I want to find the limit."
But for today's opening Supersport race - aboard his MD Racing R6 Yamaha - he will be aiming to get as close as he can to his own class lap record of 128.666mph, which he set back in 2013.
At the time, people were so taken aback by the simply stunning effort that some actually remarked, 'he must have taken a shortcut!'
But the only shortcuts Dunlop takes is through the semantics when talking to the media, and although his North West 200 and TT practice week on the 600 haven't exactly been headline making, at this moment in time he will only want to clinch victory today and nothing else.