Michael Dunlop denied Peter Hickman victory in the second Supersport TT race at the 2023 Isle of Man TT, upping the pace on the final lap of a battle in which both of the pair smashed the lap record and became the first ever riders to complete the course at an average speed over 130mph on middleweight machines.
The race looked set to be a repeat of Saturday’s opener race when Dunlop pulled out a lead as soon as the flag dropped, with Hickman once again slotting into third place behind Dean Harrison.
However, 10-time TT winner Hickman, who took victory in Tuesday’s Superstock TT, pushed it up a notch after the midway pitstops, closing down what was initially a 15-second gap to under seven as they started the final lap of the 37.73-mile circuit.
But it was Dunlop who was able to really step it up another gear in the second half of the lap, smashing his own lap record to just maintain the gap to Hickman, eventually taking his fourth victory of the week by 10s.
“We knew we would have to ride the wee Yamaha to the limit,” Dunlop said afterwards of his own self-built R6 machine, “but I had a fantastic bike below me.
“I knew we’d do 130mph, and I could see the time moving on a bit, so I thought I’d push on a bit for the craic!
“I was trying to monitor the gap, and I just upped my game.
“The wee bike was sweet, so I can’t thank the team enough for it. The bike hasn’t changed in years, and it’s always been fantastic.
“Obviously the new generation bikes [like Hickman’s Triumph 765] make life a bit harder for those of us on 600cc machines, but we decided we’d have a go at it and to build something out of our own workshop and come here and do 130mph is cool.”
Dunlop is now a 25-time TT race winner and only one short of his uncle Joey’s all-time record. He will have a chance to surpass that in a few days’ time, should his run of form continue.
The event takes a much-needed break on Thursday, but then returns to action on Friday with the second superstock and supertwin races before concluding with Saturday’s Senior TT.