Michael Dunlop took his first ever Superbike TT victory on Sunday afternoon, taking the lead at Ballaugh on the opening lap and going on to take a commanding 40 second victory from fellow Honda riders Cameron Donald and John McGuinness, the latter overcoming a one-minute pitlane penalty to set a new outright lap record of 131.671mph on the final lap.
“This is going to take a while to sink in,” admitted Dunlop immediately after the race. “A Superbike race win is the one I’ve wanted the most and no-one knows how much this means to me, it’s a dream come true.
"The big girl never missed a beat and I can’t thank people enough, all the boys in the team have worked so hard. The Honda TT Legends boys have made it so easy for me coming into the team and I just got my head down on the first lap and gave it my all.”
It was tight in the early stages of the 6-lap race, which got underway 45 minutes later than scheduled, as Gary Johnson led from Dunlop at Glen Helen on the opening lap before the Ulsterman began to turn up the wick.
Indeed, with an opening lap of 130.842mph, he held a 3.2s lead over new second placed rider Guy Martin, Johnson now in third ahead of McGuinness, who was riding in identical livery to that worn by Joey Dunlop in 2000, commemorating 30 years since Dunlop took his first TT win for Honda.
By the end of the second lap, pre-race favourite McGuinness had worked his way up to second but some 15 seconds down on Dunlop who was continuing to pull away after his first ever 131mph+ lap.
Johnson never got that far though having retired at the Nook out of fuel so the leaderboard now read Dunlop, McGuinness, Martin, Donald, Conor Cummins and William Dunlop.
Coming into the second pit stop at the end of lap four, Dunlop was the only rider above 130mph and it stretched his advantage over McGuinness to 30.8s although that soon increased with his Honda TT Legends team-mate being hit with a one-minute pit lane penalty dropping him behind Martin and back to fourth.
Dunlop had now caught McGuinness and Donald on the road with the trio circulating in close formation and McGuinness was now piling on the coals as he desperately tried to get back on the podium.
Dunlop was able to ease back in the final lap and bring the bike home for a famous win, his eventual winning margin over Donald in excess of 40 seconds but McGuinness was still able to grab some headlines as he set a new outright lap record on the final circuit, 131.671mph, to claim third from Martin and make it a Honda 1-2-3.
“I gave it my all and couldn’t have ridden any harder in the race,” admitted McGuinness. “I pushed and pushed and if it hadn’t been for some of the later runners, I think that final lap could have been 132mph but you can’t win them all.
"Speeding in pit lane was my fault so I’ll take it on the chin but to come back to third after being docked a minute is pleasing.”
Cummins took a good fifth on the Milwaukee Yamaha with the third of the Honda TT Legends riders Michael Rutter in sixth. James Hillier took seventh from Anstey, William Dunlop and the sensational Josh Brookes, the Australian finishing in tenth and becoming the fastest ever newcomer in the process, his final lap being a stunning 127.726mph.