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Isle of Man TT: Gary Pinchin's blog - Michael Dunlop is pleased with his achievements

Published: 05 June 2008

We took advantage of an offer to join Dunlop today for their dealer seminar to launch the new Roadsmart high performance sport touring tyre.

MCN’s Senior Road Test Editor Michael Neeves highly rated the new triple tread compound tyres that he tested recently, the new race-developed rubber giving maximum grip in the wet as well as the dry, as well as good stability.

The gig started with lunch at Paparazzi, the top class Italian restaurant on the prom where everyone seems to frequent during TT week. The place never takes reservations and at the height of the Isle of Man TT you have to queue, but it’s worth the wait. 

The food is simply fantastic – proper Italian pizzas, proper Italian pasta, proper Italian hospitality. And the place oozes TT atmosphere, with riders’ signatures all over the posters that adorn the walls.

Monday’s Supersport TT winner Steve Plater, Keith Amor, Ryan Farquhar, Ian Lougher, Michel Dunlop, TT rookie Jamie Robinson and David Madsen Mygdal (who’s lived on the Island and raced at the TT since 1979) were all on hand and gave the assembled dealers an insight to their TT experiences.

Michael Dunlop has been one of the sensations of this year’s TT and was top value. Barry Nutley asked the riders about their ‘racing weight, and all of them were around 10-11stone. Michael, probably slightly over that by about a stone, kept his head low, pretending not to hear the question to everyone’s amusement.

But, after clocking a 123mph lap in the Superbike TT and 122 on his supersport bike told the assembled dealers: “This is only my second year. Last year wasn’t so good. I only had one bike, an R1, and that blew up twice and I didn’t finish a race. It was just great to finish one this year, a great feeling.”

Michael of course has faced some tough decisions in the past few weeks, losing his father Robert during North West practice and then deciding at the last moment to go ahead and race.

His 250 race win was probably the most emotional moment in the history of the North West and he said: “We’re a road racing family.We probably do 15 small road races a year plus three big one. It was very competitive, even at the breakfast table and wasn’t pretty at times.

"Dad used to wind us up. He liked the craic. He rode on Bridgestones and used t love to wind Dunlop up but I’ve been on the Dunlops all through my career and wouldn’t use anything else.”  

Plater spoke about his Supersport success and joked: “The North West 200 has been kind to me over the years but I did the TT to become as rich as Jim Moodie!”
Eight times TT winner Moodie was also on hand to talk everyone through a video of a McGuinness TT lap.

Moodie, the first man to lap the Mountain circuit at 120mph on road tyres ten years ago said: “The biggest change in lap times at the TT has come from tyre development. The tyres offer much more stability now. When I first race here, tyre growth was anything between 15mm and 20mm, which made the bikes very unstable at speed.

Now there’s only 1mm. The tyres are so forgiving now so bike set-up is not quite as vital as it once was.”

I hadn’t seen Moodie – one of the top BSB riders in his day as well as a star on the roads - in some time but he’s still as trim as ever, still training flat out every day, as he did during his racing career, but still with the same principles and outlook he maintained throughout his life, let alone his racing career.

His racing was cut short by injury but he’s now a successful property developer. He joked: “I’ve slipped back into mainstream lifestyle, but it’s taken a few years (to get over racing).”

Everyone at the gig was looking forward to Friday’s big race. And, as usual, everyone was asking who’s the big money on? No idea!

McGuiness and Martin are both desperate to lock away that first win. The Relentless Suzuki boys will be trying to out-do each other – as well as the Hondas. But Yamaha aren’t out of it either.  Hutchy has come good and Plater has sorted his handling problems.

But if you want my off-the-wall tip, I reckon Gary Johnson will be up there fighting for a podium place. If only he’d moved up the starting order from number 16. The number four slot was free!