Michael Dunlop made it two wins from two races so far at the 2023 Isle of Man TT and matched John McGuinness in second on the all-time TT winners board by taking his 23rd victory at the historic event during Sunday’s Superbike TT.
Pre-race favourite Peter Hickman was plagued throughout by mechanical issues but made it to second with Dean Harrison rounding out the top three.
Dunlop was able to come out of the starting blocks just as strongly as he did during Saturday’s Supersport TT, taking control of the lead early on, once again from Harrison, and stretching out a gap that from that point onwards that he was able to manage, at least through the first four laps of the six-lap race.
“It was a good race,” Dunlop said. “The last lap I just rolled off heavily – there were a few yellow flags and I saw the gap coming down but I just managed it. I can’t say enough to [Hawk Racing bosses] Steve and Stuart [Hicken]. They believed in me when people thought that I couldn’t ride a big bike anymore.
“The bike never missed a beat. It was tough – it’s never easy to beat Pete and Dean around here, so I’m delighted. Bike’s good, I feel good, I’m happy.”
It was quite the opposite story for reigning champion Hickman, who was left battling the absence of a quick-shifter on his FHO Racing BMW early on in the race, and visibly losing time to Dunlop as he readjusted to changing gear with the use of the clutch rather than relying on electronics.
His issues were further compounded by brake problems later on in the race – but didn’t prevent Hickman from putting in a heroic effort on the final lap to miss out on the absolute lap record by a mere half a second across the 17-minute lap, taking 12 seconds out of Dunlop’s time to close the gap to only eight seconds at the chequered flag.
“Right from the start, from when I set off from the start, it immediately wouldn’t shift into second and I had to do it manually,” he explained.
“From that point onwards, the quick-shifter never worked at all, and the blipper to downshift never worked at all.
“You can do it, but it just takes your mind off the job because you have to always constantly always think of it.”
Monday is a chance for the TT grid to now recoup some energy after an intense seven days of riding with the first rest day of the fortnight, before action resumes on Tuesday with the first supertwins race of the week and another big bike battle as the superstock class gets its first outing.