Isle of Man TT 2018: Michael Dunlop eyes fourth race win

By Richard PetrieBBC Sport NI at the Isle of Man TT
Dunlop
Dunlop (bottom right) celebrates winning the Superbike TT on Saturday with Tyco bosses Philip and Hector Neill and the rest of the team
Isle of Man Senior TT
Date: Friday 8 June Time: 12:45 BST Venue: Mountain Course, Isle of Man
Coverage: Live text commentary and report on the BBC Sport website.

Michael Dunlop will attempt to win four TT races in a week for the third time when he rides in Friday's Senior TT on the Isle of Man.

The Northern Irishman took his tally of career TT wins to 18 in Wednesday's Lightweight race, having already won Superbike and Supersport races.

The 29-year-old is now the third most successful competitor ever over the Mountain Course.

The record of 26 TT victories is held by his uncle, the late Joey Dunlop.

"Come Friday there'll be nobody pushing harder than me," said Dunlop.

"To have 18 wins and be still as young as I am is incredible, and to be the third most successful rider is massive.

"It is a credit too to the teams I have ridden for and the boys I've worked with.

"People talk to me about Joey's record, but I just want to ride my bike and win races. If the wins keep coming then that's fantastic and it keeps the Dunlop family name going.

"They say Joey didn't really start winning until he was 27 or 28 and I have a lot of my winning already done."

Dunlop's success in Saturday's Superbike six-lapper was his seventh in the premier 'big bike' races, including three Senior TT victories in 2014, 2016 and 2017.

His previous four-timers were achieved in 2013 and 2014, and one more win would take the Dunlop family all-time total to a remarkable 50.

The County Antrim man's association with the Tyco BMW team is already proving a fruitful one and with perfect conditions again forecast for Friday, Dunlop's Senior lap record of 133.962mph looks in serious jeopardy.

Michael Dunlop
The Ballymoney man was in fine form on the Tyco BMW on Saturday

"We've had a few issues with the big bike - the boys have worked really hard and we've had a big turnaround to a degree.

"We have altered a few bits and pieces and hopefully the changes we have made are in the right direction.

"I'll just ride as hard as I can, like I have been all week, and we'll see if we can bring another one home.

"I'm a Ballymoney man through and through and it's nice to do it for back home. I'm just here to try my best for myself, the team and for Northern Ireland.

"We are a small country but we make a big impact."

That shared sense of national pride is echoed by Dunlop's Tyco BMW TAS Racing manager Philip Neill, whose outfit is based in Moneymore.

"It's a great thing for Northern Ireland. We are from the same country and we are both very passionate about where we are from. That adds that little bit extra," said Neill.

"What I like about Michael is that he doesn't race for second. It's all about winning races for him and for us and that's a good combination.

"It's good to be working with him as he has been a bit of a thorn in our side for many years - we have had to adapt to each other's working environments but we have gelled well.

Michael Dunlop
With three wins already in the bag Dunlop is seeking his fourth win of the week

"BMW UK and BMW Motorrad in Germany have given us their full backing so we have had the right tools for the job.

"My dad Hector is the most passionate of the two of us about road racing. I love the three international road races but he lives for them and has even threatened to retire if we pick up a Senior TT win."

Dunlop's main rivals are again expected to be Silicone Engineering Kawasaki pilot Dean Harrison and Smith's Racing BMW rider Peter Hickman, who will both be hoping for a first success in the traditional blue riband finale to race week.

Lincolnshire rider Hickman won Monday's Superstock event and was second and third in the Supersport races, while Harrison took the honours in Supersport race two, as well as securing second and third place finishes.

Harrison set a blistering new absolute course record of 134.432mph before being forced to retire from the Superbike race so a first-ever 135mph lap could be on the cards on Friday.

The Yorkshireman also holds the lap record for the Ulster Grand Prix at Dundrod with a speed of 134.617, the fastest for any road race in the world. That too could come under threat.

Hickman was second behind Dunlop in last year's Senior, with Harrison third. No-one would be surprised to see the same three riders occupy the rostrum in some order this time round.

Analysis

Eleven-times TT winner Phillip McCallen tells BBC Sport: "Michael has again shown this week that he is the master around the Mountain Course and his partnership with the Tyco BMW team has proved to be a great match-up.

"He is riding hard and well and the TAS team have great bikes and years and years of experience of racing both on the roads and in one of the toughest domestic series in the world in British Superbikes.

"Dean Harrison has moved to another level this year while Peter Hickman will have the confidence that comes with progressing from being a regular podium finisher to becoming a winner.

"All these riders are at the top of their game and the teams are all so competitive. The first 135mph lap is certainly possible - it's just getting one of those fast corners a little bit more perfect and getting that little bit more drive."

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