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Michael Dunlop can beat uncle Joey's Isle of Man TT record: Parrish


Prize guy: Michael Dunlop celebrates his Supersport win
Prize guy: Michael Dunlop celebrates his Supersport win
Tell all: Steve Parrish (left) with TT legend John F McGuinness

By Roy Harris

Former world championship motorcycle racer turned commentator Steve Parrish believes two-time TT winner this week, Michael Dunlop, will go on to beat his legendary uncle Joey Dunlop's 26-wins record on the Isle of Man.

Michael has 17 wins to his credit now and Parrish, who has seen them all, is convinced the Ballymoney rider is destined to succeed Joey as the new king of the island.

Parrish will be a special guest speaker at Belfast Book Festival on Sunday, talking about his book, 'My Life as a Racer', putting into words some of "the daft things that happened in my career, things that probably would not get past the PC brigade today".

Ahead of that he gave his views on the current TT - the speeds, the big three and the accidents that have sadly claimed two lives at this year's event, Dan Kneen and Adam Lyons.

Did he see anybody capable of challenging the Dunlop, Harrison and Hickman show in the remainder of the week's races?

"Sadly, no," he said. "Conor Cummins would probably be the best bet to challenge for the Senior TT on Friday, while Lee Johnston must be disappointed to date, but the pace that Harrison is setting from the word go is phenomenal and he is up for the Senior. Michael will have made adjustments to the Tyco BMW since winning on Saturday and Peter (Hickman) is on a real high after his Superstock success. On paper it could well be the race of the century.

"Speeds have been incredible this week," he commented.

"The competition between these top riders is fierce. There have been a few places resurfaced, the bikes are improving, tyres are getting better all the time, and most important in my view is that there has been no rain for about a fortnight.

"The speeds are scary, one does 133mph, another does 134mph and they all feel there is a 135mph in them. I suppose with technology advancing on brakes, tyres, suspension etc we don't know where the limit is going to end up."

Why do they do it? Parrish said: "For the top men there is a small window of opportunity to earn a few bob. The TT is harvest time for them earning enough to keep them going for 11 months. To mere mortals the speeds are incomprehensible, but these guys are experienced. Simply look at the North West 200, four or five riders side by side, slipstreaming at close to 200mph. They don't even go four or five abreast in MotoGP."

Things do go wrong sometimes and tragedy is never far from the thin line between elation and devastation when a rider loses his life, as has unfortunately happened twice this week with Dan Kneen and Adam Lyon paying the ultimate price for their love of the sport.

Parrish said: "As competitors we have something in-built that blank these moments out. It's like everyday work where an accident can happen despite all the precautions in place. If, for example, pallets fall on your workmate's head, chances are you'll say that won't happen again, or at least not to me.

"Arguably the best thing that can happen is you get back on your machine as soon as possible and you don't dwell on the accident."

The difference between Superbike and Superstock machine speeds is not that great, but there is a world of difference in their make-up as Parrish explained: "Well £50,000 to £80,000 for starters. A Superstock's genes are as a road bike, built to absorb normal road bumps."

As for TT Zero, Parrish (below) added: "Rutter or Lee Johnston will win; Michael is too big, Johnston is about the right height and build for the battery powered machines, so I'll go for him. The second Supersport throws up a different scenario with Michael bucking the trend on Monday and doing the unusual by changing his rear wheel, a first for this class I think, and it did give him an advantage. It was a gamble, but Michael was brave enough to do it and it worked perfectly. It meant he could run as soft a rear as he wished knowing that after the pit stop he would have a fresh tyre which, even if it did not have that much of an effect, it would work psychologically on his opponents, and I would expect others to make the same move.

"Michael is incredible, he is talented, a maverick doing things his way, and says it like it is. If he keeps fit, gets the right machines and retains the hunger then he is a bigger threat to his uncle Joey's record of 26 TT wins than any other rider."

Supersport race 2 is at 10.45 this morning, the one-lap TT Zero at 12.45pm and the Lightweight TT at 2.10pm.

Steve Parrish speaks at Belfast's Malone Lodge Hotel on Sunday, June 10 at 8.00pm as part of Belfast Book Festival, admission £8-£10

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