Michael Dunlop shatters record again on a day of mixed fortune on the Isle of Man
The record books were re-written again as the 2017 Isle of Man Steam Packet Southern 100 came to a close yesterday with Bradford's Dean Harrison getting the better of Dan Kneen and Michael Dunlop in a sensational nine-lap battle to win the Manx Gas Solo Championship, in which Dunlop hoisted the absolute lap record for the 4.25mile Billown Circuit to an incredible 115.707mph, but could only finish third.
All three were over 115mph and all three had spells at the front, but it was Harrison in front when it mattered, taking the chequered flag 0.131 seconds ahead of Manxman Kneen with Dunlop 0.384 back in third, but with the consolation of that new absolute lap record of 2m 12.231secs, a speed of 115.707.
This was the fastest ever race in the 62-year history of the 'Friendly Races' and afterwards Harrison, a triple winner this week, said: "I've been trying to win that race for the past five years. It was a hell of a tough race, as these boys would not let go. We just had no time on this big bike as we had problems earlier in the week so it is even more satisfying to get the victory."
A philosophical Dunlop commented: "It's my own fault I wasn't at the front. I asked the boys to change the rear tyre, but it didn't work as I lost all drive out of the tight corners. No excuses though, these boys were really on it. The lap record is alright, but I believe I could have gone quicker."
Harrison had earlier won a sensational 600cc race by just 0.264sec from Dunlop, the pair taking the class lap record to new heights as the first 600cc machines to lap at over 111mph, Dunlop setting the fastest speed on the last lap at 111.335mph.
This was the second 600cc win of the week for Harrison and Dunlop said afterwards: "I didn't think we were doing those speeds. Every time I got close to Dean he pulled away on acceleration. The Kawasaki seems to have more grunt than my Yamaha, so I'll have to have a look inside to see if we can get a bit more out of it before the Ulster."
Dunlop won his third Superbike race of the week and 20th Southern 100 victory yesterday after a titanic battle with Kneen.
The sidecar championship came to a dramatic conclusion on the final lap when the Birchall brothers, who had set a new sidecar lap record of 101.545mph, ran into the rear of the Tim Reeves/Mark Wilkes machine in a last ditch move to wrest the lead from their rival, resulting in a huge crash from which all four were lucky to walk away.
John Holden and Lee Cain were awarded the championship victory. An unhappy Reeves was scathing of Ben Birchall, saying: "That type of action is unacceptable on the roads, it's not Brands Hatch. It's all on camera, he just drove straight into the back of me and my machine is completely buckled."
Other Irish winners yesterday were Davy Morgan in the 600cc 'B' race, Darryl Tweed taking his second win of the week in the 400cc class while Alan Connor won the Senior Consolation event and David Howard the Junior Support race.