Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 25 October 2014

Michael Dunlop aiming to clip the wings of Flying Kiwi

Michael Dunlop

Racing on the Isle of Man starts this morning at 10.15am with the four-lap OKells Brewery 350cc Classic TT, followed by the Motorsport Merchandise Formula 1 and 2 four-lapper at 1.30pm and the Manx IMGold Newcomers race at 3.45pm.

All eyes will be on the F1 race where an anticipated battle between Michael Dunlop, a four-time TT winner in June, and Bruce Anstey, the current TT lap record holder, is sure to set the 37 and three quarters Mountain Circuit alight.

Dunlop, who won this particular race last year, rides the Team Classic Suzuki XR69 while the Flying Kiwi rides a very special machine – a two-stroke Yamaha YZR 500cc Grand Prix racer, under the Valvoline Padgetts banner.

Anstey, fresh from his UGP double, holds a slight advantage over Dunlop after practice having set the week's fastest speed of 122.88mph against his rival's 122.173mph.

However, reliability will play a major role today with the ex-Grand Prix machine a little fickle around the bumps and jumps of the high speed TT circuit while the Suzuki is a proven winner with the mercurial Dunlop on board.

There is a quality field waiting in the wings if the 'big two' strike problems with James Hillier, Russ Mountford, Ryan Farquhar, Gary Johnson, Lee Johnston and Jamie Hamilton all chasing a podium finish.

Triple UGP/Dundrod 150 winner James Cowton has been hugely impressive this year and could well add the F2 race to his Manx Newcomers victory in 2012 with Banbridge rider Shaun Anderson pitting his GPZ 600cc Kawasaki against the TZ 250cc Yamahas of Cowton, Ian Lougher and Roy Richardson.

William Dunlop's best chance of a podium comes in the 350cc Classic TT when he rides the immaculately-prepared Davies Motorsport Honda.

The Ballymoney man's smooth style suits this type of machine and he was second fastest in practice at 101.271mph behind Alan Oversby on 102.707mph.

Lougher, Conor Behan, Hamilton and Dan Cooper should all be well up the leaderboard with reliability again set to play a key role.

Following racing today, there is a practice session for Manx Grand Prix Junior, Senior, Lightweight and Supertwin machines ahead of their races on Wednesday and Friday.

Ten-times TT winner Lougher got the Festival of Motorcycling off to a tremendous start on Saturday with victory in the four-lap 500cc race in which he came back from a 30-second time penalty for speeding in the pit lane to win comfortably from Dan Cooper and Anstey.

This after John McGuinness, Farquhar and Michael Rutter were all forced to retire from the race, all having led at one stage, leaving Lougher (Paton) to overturn a 13-second deficit going into the last lap to overhaul Cooper (Norton) and win by 34 seconds with the fastest lap at 111.523mph

Meanwhile, at the eighth round of the Irish Short Circuit Championship at Kirkistown on Saturday, there were wins for Marshall Neill and David Haire in the Superbike class while in two sensational Supersport races, there were close victories for Christian Elkin and Jason Lynn.

Cody Nally has a 125 point lead in the Superbike series after two second places at the Co Down venue while Carl Phillips leads the Supersport championship by 100 points after a second and third.

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