Could Michael Dunlop achieve his Isle of Man TT dream?

After a scintillating victory in the RST Superbike TT Race, Michael Dunlop is now just three races behind Isle of Man TT legend, his uncle Joey Dunlop

Michael Dunlop, 2023 Isle of Man TT, Superbike. - IOMTT Press

MICHAEL Dunlop currently stands on the precipice of reaching or even exceeding the Isle of Man TT record of his uncle, the late great Joey Dunlop. 

Sunday’s RST Superbike TT race saw the Northern Irish rider storm to victory, ahead of Dean Harrison and Peter Hickman. The win put him on an equal number of Isle of Man TT wins as the man they call ‘The King of the Mountain’, John McGuinness. But with six races still up for grabs in the 2023 Isle of Man TT, could Dunop and his MD Racing and Hawk Racing teams take more victories in the upcoming races?

Where has Michael Dunlop’s 2023 TT pace come from?

Dunlop’s last few visits to the TT have not been quite what we were used to, and some within the paddock had even begun to write him off as a big-bike front-runner. Last year, for example, saw Dunlop take two wins on the Mountain Course, both on the smaller 600cc supersport machines. On the big bike, the best Dunlop could manage was a third-place finish in the Superbike TT Race.

So that does beg the question, where has this resurgence in form come from?

There are probably a few factors at play here, but one thing is for sure, Dunlop seems to be revelling in the new Honda CBR1000RR-R SP. He’s riding that in the Superbike and Superstock events while relying on the Yamaha R6 in Supersport and the Paton S1-R in the Supertwin events. This new-found love for the Fireblade seems to work for him, and while he’s racing under the MD Racing banner in all but the Superbike class, the familiar faces of Stuart and Steve Hicken are never far away.

Could Michael Dunlop record 26 victories this week?

Michael Dunlop now stands with just three victories between himself and the record of his uncle Joey, who set the record back in 2000 after a hattrick of wins. Mathematically he could indeed match or even beat his uncle’s record, but the path to doing is not straightforward. Granted, his ride in the Superbike TT Race was faultless and devastatingly fast, but kudos must also be given to Peter Hickman, who rode much of the race with a malfunctioning quickshifter and a bike/setup which seemed to only want to tank slapper on the exit of every corner. With the bike shaking its head for much of the lap, the brake pads were knocked back meaning Hickman amazingly had to pump the lever to get it to work. Despite this, Hickman took second place and even managed a new Superbike race lap record, recording an average speed of 135.445 mph on his final lap – just 0.047s outside his own outright lap record. If he and his FHO Racing team can rectify those two issues, Hickman is going to be a force to be reckoned with in the big bike class for sure.

That said there are still six races up for grabs, and if we go on the performances set on the final day of TT qualifying, which saw Dunlop top the timesheets in the Superbike, Supertwin, and Supersport classes, it is beginning to look like this record is one that could be getting passed from one Dunlop to another.

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