Michael Dunlop was in red-hot form at the Walderstown Road Races yesterday as he warmed up for the Southern 100 on the Isle of Man with a terrific treble.
Dunlop was a surprise entry at the Fore Club’s national meeting in Westmeath after arriving to the paddock on Saturday morning.
And he underscored his pedigree with a clean sweep of all three races he entered, winning the Supersport race from pole position on his MD Racing Yamaha and streaking to a Superbike double – including victory in the ‘Race of the South’ finale – on the Buildbase Suzuki.
The local fans had turned out in force to see home hero Derek McGee make his road racing comeback after the Mullingar man fractured his pelvis in several places following a training accident last September.
McGee, who hopes to make a full-scale return in 2023, felt unwell yesterday but did venture out to complete a few laps in practice, however he later tested positive for Covid-19 and took no further part in the event.
“I woke up on Saturday morning feeling really unwell and did a Covid test, which came back negative,” he said.
“So I said I would try a few laps in qualifying just to get qualified for Sunday, but I deteriorated more and was really struggling on the bike.
“I decided to do another test later in the afternoon and it came back positive.
“I’m absolutely gutted to miss out because I’ve worked so hard to get back fit, but hopefully I’ll be back again soon.”
Dunlop kicked off the meeting yesterday with a hard-earned victory in the Open Superbike race, which he won by only three-tenths-of-a-second from Michael Sweeney (MJR BMW).
Starting from pole in the Supersport race, Dunlop passed early leader Mike Browne to take top spot and managed his pace at the front, slowly easing clear and eventually winning the seven-lap showdown by three seconds.
TT star Dunlop, now a 21-time winner around the Mountain Course after a Supersport double last month, completed his hat-trick in the ‘Race of the South’ Superbike event, taking the flag unchallenged by 2.287s from Sweeney with Browne almost two seconds further back in third.
He now turns his attention to the four-day Southern 100 meeting at the Isle of Man’s Billown course, with opening practice taking place this evening.
The 33-year-old faces stiff opposition from fellow top TT riders Dean Harrison and Davey Todd, while Magherafelt’s Paul Jordan will be aiming to make a mark on the Prez Racing Yamaha and Kawasaki machines.