Michael Dunlop will fancy his chances of claiming a milestone 20th Isle of Man TT victory today when he lines up in the Supersport and Superstock races.
The 33-year-old finished on the podium in third place on the Hawk Racing Suzuki in Saturday’s RST Superbike race, which was won in emphatic style by Peter Hickman on the Gas Monkey Garage BMW.
Hickman was in a class of his own as he set the fastest lap of the race at 133.461mph and established a new race record for the six-lap showpiece in 1h 43m 58.564s, winning by 39 seconds from Dean Harrison (DAO Racing Kawasaki).
Dunlop was a further 18 seconds in arrears, but the Ballymoney man will expect to mount a stronger challenge for victory today, which would see him join his uncle Joey (26 wins) and John McGuinness (23) as the only riders ever to win 20 or more TT races.
He topped the Supersport times in qualifying with a 126mph lap on his MD Racing Yamaha and holds the lap record in the class at 129.197mph set in 2018.
Dunlop has also been on the pace on his Honda Superstock machine, lapping at 129.29mph in the final qualifying session on Friday.
“We’re just lacking that wee small bit, whatever it is,” said Dunlop.
“It was hot out there (on Saturday) and it’s good to get six laps under our belt. It was hard graft, but I probably need to sharpen myself up a bit too.
“He’s (Peter Hickman) riding fantastic and I stayed with him a bit. I gave him space because he passed me, it was his race and nothing to do with me, so I just stayed out of the way.
“There were a lot of boys on the road, but just with the position on the bike, I just couldn’t dive or tip in where I wanted to, but it was a good race and we’ll have another go on Monday.”
Hickman, Harrison and Milenco by Padgett’s Honda riders Davey Todd and Manxman Conor Cummins will be the leading contenders in the Superstock race along with Dunlop.
Honda’s Glenn Irwin also lines up, fresh from setting the fastest ever lap by a TT newcomer on Saturday at 129.85mph as he finished eighth.
In the Supersport race, Lee Johnston is also a major challenger on his Ashcourt Yamaha. The Fermanagh man has concentrated on his 600cc machine in qualifying and won the first Supersport race in 2019 for his maiden TT success.
Hickman is something of an unknown quantity on his Trooper Beer Triumph 765 machine after he was unable to ride the bike at the North West 200 due to different regulations, but the 35-year-old was a Supersport winner three years ago and will be confident of repeating the feat.
Harrison and Todd will also provide stiff opposition to Dunlop.
Today’s schedule includes the first Sidecar race (1:10pm), which was abandoned on Saturday when French passenger Oliver Lavorel was killed in a crash on the opening lap at Ago’s Leap. His driver, César Chanal, remained in a critical condition yesterday.
The first Supersport race will be held at 10:45am with the Superstock race at 3:00pm, both over a reduced distance of three laps to accommodate the Sidecar race.