Michael Dunlop clear favourite to follow up Superbike win with Solo success
Michael Dunlop continued to show his consummate class, during last night's Southern 100 on the Isle of Man, taking a convincing 25-second victory in the Ellan Vannin Fuels Superbike race, his second Open class win of the week.
With last night's opening race of three delayed due to a diesel spill on the circuit, mixed with some damp patches after inclement weather, running on slick tyres - front and rear - was a brave decision from the 13-time Isle of Man TT winner.
Speaking after his win, the Hawk Racing BMW pilot said: "I expected the boys on wets to be up there on the first lap.
"I could have done with intermediate tyres myself as I'd a couple of slides, but we just made it work."
Dunlop added: "We've made a step forward with the bike since the start of the week and the boys gave me a good package.
"There were bits on the circuit which were dry and others not so good, but I just put the head down on the first lap and controlled it from there."
The gamble paid off for the hard-charging Dunlop but, in reality, the level of competition at this year's event has been ever so slightly diluted with his main rival at the Southern 100 for the past few seasons, Guy Martin, conspicuous by his absence this week
Nonetheless, Dunlop has been in virtually unbeatable form on the Hawk Racing Buildbase BMW this season, and he's a cast iron favourite to take today's coveted Solo Championship win, which Guy Martin has won for the past three seasons.
Manxman Dan Kneen took second place on the Mar-Train Racing YZF-R1M Yamaha, which was just reward for both Kneen and the Northern Ireland-based team - as he returns from injury in his first meeting since the Tandragee 100.
Kneen, who ran an intermediate set-up on the Mar-Train machine, lamented afterwards: "It was difficult to know how hard to push, and they need to sort out the warm-up lap," he added, referring to the sedate pace following the lead car on the sighting lap and the subsequent delay on the grid before racing got under way - potentially allowing tyres to cool below the required safety level for racing.
Third placed man Ivan Lintin touched on the same subject, potentially insinuating that the slow sighting lap pace and heavily punctuated start, could possibly have added to the crash involving Dean Harrison on Tuesday night.
Ballymoney's Seamus Elliott took fourth place with Meath newcomer Alan Bonner ninth and evergreen Dungannon racer Paul Cranston 13th the pick of the other Irish riders.
Lintin did go on the take the Kerruish Plumbing 250/650cc race win aboard the RC Express Racing Kawasaki; the same machine that took him to a double at this year's North West 200 and an Isle of Man TT win just last month.
Rob Hodson came in 10 seconds down on Lintin in second place with Abergavenny's Rhys Hardisty - son of Ian Hardisty, who was killed at the 1998 Isle of Man TT - third and the first 250cc machine home.
Dean Harrison was the winner of the Radcliffe Butcher's 600cc race after a titanic battle with Lintin.
Colin Stephenson was third, with the best of the local riders, newcomers Darryl Tweed and Adam McLean in seventh and eighth.
Michael Dunlop was a non-starter.
Today will see an eight-race programme getting under way at 10.15am, but all eyes will be on the Manx Gas Solo Championship and Manx Gas Sidecar Championship races in the afternoon.