The 2011 Southern 100 in the Isle of Man could not have kicked off in a more dramatic way with Michael Dunlop winning the opening 1000cc race by 0.12s from Guy Martin.
Dunlop, riding his Street Sweep-backed PBM Kawasaki stalked the Relentless by TAS Suzuki rider for seven of the eight laps then two corners from the finish made his move in the fourth-gear, 120mph Stadium bend.
Dunlop said: “Guy set off at fair pace and he must have been running traction control because he was getting off the corners really well. I made a lunge and lost the front, she kept sliding and I thought, ‘this is going to be like Vietnam (an explosion as he hit the wall). She was tucking all the way to the kerb.
“I got her sorted but then arrived at Castletown Corner too fast. I went in way deep and was thinking, Guy’s going to have a go here. But he didn’t.”
Although Dunlop ran wide, Martin would have had to turn extra tight at the bumpy apex and that line was covered with cement dust from an incident in practice.
Dunlop collected himself and got out of the final corner faster than Martin to score the opening race win of the 2011 Southern 100 by split seconds.
“I was having a go on that last lap, no matter where it was,” said Dunlop. “It was a good crack but fair play to Guy, he was riding really hard too.”
Dunlop set a new lap record at 112.324mph for the 4.25 mile Billown race course on the outskirts of Castletown.
Martin said: “I knew he was there but I’d accounted for him having a go but then I saw backmarkers and that ruined my plan. But there was nowt in it, was there? Great race.”
Cameron Donald bounced back from a minor tumble in practice on Monday night to finished third after a race-long scrap with Wilson Craig Honda team-mate. He said: "From ninth of the grid to third, I’m stoked. William’s riding really well but I had a good solid race. Whether we’ve got the pace to run with Michael and Guy later in the week we’ll have to see."
William Dunlop admitted he flagged towards the end of the hectic eight laps in his first superbike race on the Southern 100 course. “I was being really lazy, he admitted. “I’m not fit enough on a superbike and after four laps I wasn’t able to give it my all.”
The sidecar race was equally close-fought with race winners Klaus Klaffenbock/Dan Sayle, second place Simon Neary/Jason Crowe and Ian Bell/Carl Bell all separated by 1.02s
Wednesday’s programme features four solo races: Senior (for 1000cc bikes), 250cc/650cc twins, 600cc, 125/400cc.