Brothers William and Michael Dunlop battle for TT race wins

By Richard PetrieAt the Isle of Man TT
William and Michael Dunlop
William and Michael Dunlop

The TT may have become more professional, global and commercial in recent years, but some things remain the same - there are Dunlops battling it out for race wins.

William has set the fastest time in practice for the Supersport class, closely followed by younger brother Michael, so this year's 600cc jousts look set to be a battle royal between the two riders bearing the most famous name in the history of the event.

The keenly anticipated high-speed showdown almost came to pass in the same category last year before race two was brought to a halt, with the rest of the field clearly not relishing the wet patches around the circuit.

That was a decision which did not go down well with the Ballymoney lads who had honed their skills in changeable conditions on Irish national road courses.

William's path to potential Isle of Man stardom has been more gradual than his brother, and he now looks ready to occupy the top step of the rostrum.

The 26-year-old opted out of the 2008 races following the death of his father and even contemplated retiring from the roads discipline of the sport.

Since then the elder of the siblings has been getting faster each year, and appears certain to improve on his best TT finish of fifth in last year's Superstock outing.

His CV already includes 64 Irish road race wins, plus successes at the North West 200 and Ulster Grand Prix, and the Wilson Craig Honda rider is hungry to add a TT victory.

"I feel I have done my apprenticeship and am ready to challenge for a win. I have adapted my smooth style to the rigours of the circuit," said William.

"I'm in my second year with this team and I feel so comfortable on the bikes. There will be nothing faster on the track - I think we proved that at the North West.

"The only minus point is my starting number of 15 which may hinder me as I will have a lot more riders to pass than Michael and the other guys."

William has added incentive to do well on the Mountain Course as he hopes the resulting financial rewards will help him fund the remainder of his British 125/MotoStar championship campaign.

"I was lying third in the series but had to miss the most recent round at Snetterton because it clashed with TT practice so I have some catching up to do," he conceded.

Michael, who at 23 years old, already boasts two TT wins, will provide a major obstacle to his brother's hopes of a maiden victory.

The more intense of the pair is as determined as ever to add to his tally after an indifferent North West 200 by his own high standards.

He burst onto the Isle of Man scene with a masterclass success in the 2009 Supersport race and followed that up with victory in the Superstock four-lapper last year.

He is unlikely to change his aggressive, hard-riding style in his pursuit of more major honours at the main event on his calendar.

"I have decided to ride the 600 Yamaha in preference to the Suzuki as I believe it gives me a better chance," he explained.

"I took both machines out in practice and I'm still tweaking and trying things in a bid to get the most out of the engine.

"We used the same settings for the Superstock bike as last year and I was all over the place in practice which is a bit strange. Maybe the road surface has changed a bit.

"I'm on a Honda Superbike this year and I know it is reliable and works round here.

"You have to win the Senior race to really make your name at the TT, and that is what I want to do this week."