Dunlop and Tweed sweep to victory at IoM's Southern 100
It was a good night for Ballymoney riders on the opening night of racing at the Southern 100 on the Isle of Man, with Michael Dunlop winning the 1000cc race and then Darryl Tweed triumphing in the 400c race from near neighbour Seamus Elliott.
Dunlop was under pressure throughout the seven laps, with Dan Kneen, Dean Harrison and Jamie Coward also in the mix.
The Bennetts Suzuki and the BMW of Kneen were side by side off the start, but at the end of lap one of seven the Ballymoney man was fractionally ahead of Kneen, with Dean Harrison and Ivan Lintin disputing third, a second behind the leading pair, with Coward fifth.
Isle of Man resident Kneen went ahead on lap two with Dunlop in his slip stream and Harrison closing on the pair as Coward made it through to fourth and Lintin dropping to fifth.
Kneen kept his nose in front until the penultimate lap when Dunlop went ahead at Iron Gate and held off a last lap charge from Kneen to win by a tenth of a second despite the Manxman setting a new class lap record of 114.185mph on his final lap.
Harrison was a second back in third, Coward, Lintin and James Cowton on the Gortreagh Printing Kawasaki sixth.
"Dan got in front and he seemed to have more grunt than me out of the tight corners," said Dunlop.
"We had a small issue with the bike, but I managed to get past him again at the end of the straight from Ballakeighan and, despite not having raced a bike in anger since the TT, things went all right.
"The boys were riding hard and well, so it's looking like a good couple of day's racing."
Tweed started from pole position in the 400/Moto3 race and he was never headed on his Kawasaki, taking the chequered flag more than seven-and-a-half seconds ahead of the Yamaha of fellow Ballymoney man Elliott, who was having his fourth race back following a racing accident a year ago.
Elliott was under pressure from the Moto3 Honda of Dan Sayle over the last two laps, but took second by less than half a wheel.
Richard Charlton won the 1000/600cc 'B' race by more than five seconds from David McConnachy.
Racing continues this evening from 6.20pm.
Meanwhile, Dunlop has agreed to ride a Turner Racing TZ 250cc Yamaha in the Lightweight Classic TT in August alongside Dan Cooper in a two-pronged attack by team owner Roger Turner.
This will see Dunlop make his debut in this particular class around the 37.75 mile Mountain Circuit, but he has the pedigree as his early years were spent on two-stroke machines.
Who will ever forget his emotionally charged 2008 North West 200 victory, while his first victory on the Mountain Circuit came in the 2006 Ultra Lightweight Newcomers Manx Grand Prix on a 125cc Honda.
This ride means that Dunlop, arguably the best rider around the Mountain Circuit at the moment and the outright lap record holder, will complete in all four Classic TT races having been confirmed for Black Eagle racing in the Senior and Junior Classic events riding MV Agusta's and is part of the three-man Steve Wheatman Team Classic Suzuki Team in the Superbike Classic race alongside familiar names Lee Johnston and Danny Webb.
Dunlop goes for his third straight win in this class and is the lap record holder at more than 126mph.