Michael Dunlop completed the centenary Manx Grand Prix with victory in Monday evening’s Classic Superbike race on the Team Classic Suzuki.
Clocking a new lap record of 126.681mph en route, Dunlop powered home a full 43.6s ahead of David Johnson (Alasdair Cowan Racing Kawasaki) and Rob Hodson (Greenall Racing Kawasaki), the pair capitalising on a retirement for Dean Harrison (Key Racing Ducati) while he was in contention for the lead.
“The bike wasn’t working that well and with no electronics, I was struggling a bit with it,” said Dunlop.
“I thought about pulling in after the first lap and then the steering damper broke, so I was having all kinds of issues, but I rode round the problems as the team owner has been good to me and I wanted to get the bike home. I pushed on and the hard work by all the boys paid off.”
Delays meant the race had been pushed back to a 6.40pm start and cut from four laps to three, but once underway it was Dean Harrison that led Dunlop by 2.5s through Glen Helen on the opening lap.
However, of the fancied runners, Craig Neve, was outside the top thirty after losing almost a minute off the line when his Alasdair Cowan Racing Kawasaki refused to fire up.
For the remainder of the lap, Dunlop ate into Harrison’s lead but an opening lap of 124.767mph meant Harrison still led at the mandatory pit stop although the gap was down to just half a second.
Johnson was running in third ahead of Hodson, Brian McCormack (Greenall Racing Kawasaki) and Michael Rutter (Bathams Ales Suzuki).
Dunlop grabbed the lead at Glen Helen on lap two, albeit by just a tenth of a second, but Johnson was now 20s adrift and although Hodson and McCormack remained in fourth and fifth, Paul Jordan was up into sixth after Rutter stopped at Quarter Bridge and lost substantial time before proceeding.
Dunlop’s continued to increase his lead over the next few sectors, up to 6.6s at Ramsey, and news then came through that Harrison’s Ducati had expired at Brandywell. That promoted everyone up a place with the order behind now Johnson, Hodson, McCormack, Sheils and Jordan.
Despite a lead of more than half a minute going into the final lap, Dunlop showed no signs of slowing down and, indeed, a final lap of 126.681mph saw him better Nathan Harrison’s record from twelve months ago.
And it was Johnson who got the verdict for second, pulling away from Hodson over the Mountain to edge him out by 2.1s.
McCormack was more than a minute clear of Nathan Harrison in fourth with the Ashcourt Racing Honda rider just edging Neve out by a second, the latter recovering brilliantly after his earlier issues.
Jordan was only three quarters of a second back in seventh and with Ryan Cringle retiring at Parliament Square on the final lap, it was Sheils, Shaun Anderson and Frenchman Amalric Blanc who completed the top ten.