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Michael Dunlop determined to rack up a 50th TT triumph for his family


By Roy Harris

The blue riband event of the Isle of Man TT, the six-lap PokerStars Senior TT race, will get under way at 12.45pm today - and it could well bring up an unprecedented milestone for the first family of road racing.

Between them, Joey, Robert and Michael Dunlop have won 49 times around the torturous 37-mile Mountain Circuit, and if the latter can pull off his fourth win of the week today, that total will reach the magical 50 mark.

Quite phenomenal, especially when you consider that no other racing family come close to the Dunlops.

Joey holds the record of 26 TT victories, Michael has weighed in with 18 to date and Robert has five.

Amazingly, Joey, by the time he was 30 years of age, had scored just two victories. Compare that to 29-year-old nephew Michael's 18 wins and you can see why many pundits and ex-riders are now predicting that he is the most likely to at least equal - if not beat - his uncle's incredible tally.

Michael said: "Nobody will be trying harder than me in the Senior. I have 18 wins and I'm still young. To be the third most successful TT rider is impressive.

"I just want to ride my bikes and win races. If the wins keep coming, that's brilliant, it keeps the Dunlop name to the fore. It's not all about me though, people tend to forget the teams and bikes I have ridden and it's all down to the work they put in that I am where I am today."

Former racer Phillip McCallen said of the Dunlops' record: "It is something remarkable that one family has dominated the TT like the Dunlops. I raced against Joey, in fact I have Joey to thank for putting my name forward to Honda in 1989 when he was injured.

"If he was in the mood and everything was right he was unbeatable, so smooth. He kept on winning at 48 years of age, without going to the gym and keeping fit like today's TT winners.

"Michael has the opposite outlook, every time he goes out he has a special determination and will to win, and I think someone once said if he was riding a garden gate he could win a TT.

"Now, I know it's not that easy (McCallen won 11 times at the TT and was the first man to win four in a week in 1996), but if anybody can do it, Michael can."

So, can Michael win today and take the Dunlop name to half a century of TT wins?

This week has been about three men to date - Dean Harrison, the new outright lap record holder and winner of the second Supersport race; Peter Hickman, who broke his TT duck in the Superstock race; and Michael with a hat-trick in TT Superbike, Supersport race one and the Lightweight TT.

And today's race looks set to be another record-breaker if these three continue to rule the roost.

Harrison has been like a scalded cat in the opening miles of a lap, so Hickman and Dunlop have to match that early pace of the Silicone Engineering Kawasaki to give their respective Smiths and Tyco BMW a chance.

Dunlop's aim is to keep chipping away and see where it takes him.

"I believe there is a 135mph lap in me," he said, and if that comes to pass he will not be far away from win No.19 and that Dunlop milestone.

Waiting in the wings if any of the 'Big Three' slip up are Conor Cummins, James Hillier, Michael Rutter, the Norton of Josh Brookes (an outside bet for a podium) and Lee Johnston - all are well capable of finishing on the podium.

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