Belfast Telegraph

Delighted Dunlop hits back to join Hailwood on 14 TT wins

By Roy Harris

Following a two-and-a-quarter-hour delay due to poor weather and a tree blocking the road between Ballacraine and Ballig Bridge, yesterday's four-lap Monster Energy Supersport race gave Michael Dunlop his first victory of the week as he joined the late, great Mike Hailwood on 14 Isle of Man TT triumphs.

The Ballymoney man said: "That makes up for yesterday's disappointment, retiring in the Superbike race when leading. It was either lie down after that or stand up and be counted.

"The boys did a great job and here we are. I love it in here (the winners' enclosure). I must mention (brother) William, fair play to him as he lent me a part we could not get hold of, and a new sponsor for this year Carl Cox, picking up his first TT win.

"I made a slow start; I think I must have picked the wrong rear tyre and saw P4 at one stage. I thought it was time to go when I saw it and James (Hillier) was setting a good pace, so it took a bit of time to reel him in.

"I was able to roll it off on the last lap to make it home. I have been off the boil in the 600 class for a couple of years but we're back where we belong."

On his Superbike retirement, Michael said: "I was sick after that, as we nearly made the impossible possible with a brand new bike. We were pushing on but unfortunately the bike just stopped. We will be back for Friday's Senior TT."

With some damp patches on the opening lap, James Hillier set the early pace to lead at Glen Helen from William Dunlop, Michael Dunlop, Gary Johnson, Dean Harrison and the winner of the last four Supersport races, Ian Hutchinson.

By the end of the lap, Michael was into second, less than half a second behind Hillier. Harrison was third and William dropped back to fourth.

Michael got into the lead at Glen Helen on lap two, 1.8 seconds ahead of Hillier, who in turn was five seconds clear of William after Harrison was forced to retire at Ballacraine.

Gary Johnson, Hutchinson and Peter Hickman completed the top six at the first checkpoint and by the pit stop at the end of the lap, Michael was two and a half seconds ahead of the JG Speedfit Kawasaki of Hillier. William was now some 15 seconds behind Hillier with Hickman on the charge in fourth.

By Ballaugh Bridge on lap three, the MD Racing Yamaha was three and a half seconds ahead and Michael put the hammer down to widen his advantage over Hillier, with Hickman now third, over 20 seconds behind Hillier and three ahead of William.

Pulling away, Michael dominated the last lap to take his sixth Supersport TT victory, 13.244 seconds ahead of Hillier, who had 12 seconds in hand over Hickman, who set the fastest lap of the race of 126.848mph on his final circuit.

William Dunlop finished fourth, over 25 seconds clear of a low-key performance by Hutchinson with Johnson further behind in sixth.

Meanwhile, a tremendous performance from newcomer Adam McLean saw the Tobermore rider come home as the third best local rider in 18th position with a fastest lap of 120.644mph.

Fellow newcomer Tom Weeden came off his bike at Brandywell, the highest point of the Mountain Circuit, and was taken by Air Med to Nobles Hospital for treatment to chest and back injuries.

Yesterday's three-lap sidecar race saw victory go to the Birchall brothers Tom and Ben, who set a new lap record for the class of 117.119mph on lap two.

They went on to win by over 25 seconds from John Holden and Lee Cain, with Dave Molyneux and Dan Sayle third, Sayle suffering from a side injury sustained in the early part of the final lap.

Racing continues today with the Superstock TT.

• Belfast Planning Consultancy, Clyde Shanks, has confirmed their sponsorship for the Armoy Road Races Supertwin Race.

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