Michael Dunlop toasted his 20th Isle of Man TT victory after edging out Dean Harrison to win Monday’s opening Supersport race.
Dunlop and Harrison battled all the way in the three-lap encounter, with never more than a few seconds between them throughout the 113-mile race.
However, a new lap record by Dunlop on the final lap was enough to break Harrison’s challenge as the Northern Ireland man took a hard-fought win by 5.6s.
Peter Hickman, who won Saturday’s Superbike race, finished third ahead of Fermanagh rider Lee Johnston.
A delighted Dunlop, who now joins his uncle Joey (26 wins) and John McGuinness (23) as the only TT riders to reach 20 victories or more, bettered his 2018 lap record with a new benchmark of 129.47mph on his MD Racing Yamaha.
“It was steady, a good race and there’s life in the old dog yet,” said Dunlop.
“I can’t thank the boys enough for the work they have put in. It’s been a tough week, a hard week and I had to give my 600 mechanic over to the big bike, and we’ve been looking after the 600 all week.
“I got caught badly with the lads in front of me and they were sucking me back a bit as well with the tow from me, but Dean is fast. Somebody told me in the pits that it was Dean and I knew then that I had to get my groove on,” he added.
“It’s good to get another one and I love this place, so thanks to the team because it’s been a tough year.”
Runner-up Harrison had closed the gap on Dunlop to a mere 0.140s on the last lap at Glen Helen, but that was as close as he got, with the Bradford rider unable to match the 33-year-old’s pace on his DAO Racing Kawasaki on the remainder of the last lap.
“We had a fuel pump problem and every time I hit the brakes I had fuel coming out and going up my face, so I was almost high out there!” Harrison said.
“But the bike never missed a beat and was absolutely faultless. Fair play to Michael, the ZX-6 was going quite well but the R6 is really strong, we know that, so to get so close is a good start to the week with what we’ve just done.”
It was Dunlop’s 68th TT start and his 31st podium finish at the event, underscoring his standing as one of the greatest TT riders of all time.
Fellow countryman Johnston’s bid for the podium was hampered when he lost time during his pit-stop, but the Ashcourt Racing rider fought back on his Yamaha to pip James Hillier for fourth.
Jamie Coward finished sixth on the KTS/Steadplan Yamaha ahead of Milenco by Padgett’s Honda riders Conor Cummins and Davey Todd.
Magherafelt’s Paul Jordan brought the PreZ Racing Yamaha home in 11th despite incurring a 30-second penalty for speeding in pit lane.
A red-flag incident occurred on the final lap of the race after the majority of the leading riders had crossed the line at the Grandstand. No further details have yet been provided.