After another epic season of racing, MCN’s sports team of Michael Guy (Sports Editor), Simon Patterson (MotoGP Reporter) and Oli Rushby (Superbike Reporter) sat down to discuss who impressed them the most in each race series we cover to establish MCN’s top five riders in each category.
And with this year’s insanely close road racing season, it wasn’t an easy call to decide who deserved what spot in our top five riders of the year. Here’s what we think - but feel free to disagree with us in the comments!
1st – Michael Dunlop
Michael Dunlop took on a new challenge for the 2017 road racing season. Remaining with the Hawk squad, he’d challenge aboard an all-new Suzuki GSX-R1000 at the three big internationals and a number of national road races.
It was a big ask, taking a bike that was brand new from the ground up and aiming for big success in its first outing at some of the most grueling courses in the world. But this is Michael Dunlop. He told MCN ahead of the North West 200 and TT that he felt he could win on anything. He wasn’t wrong.
While the North West 200 proved to be somewhat of a test for Dunlop and the Bennetts Suzuki team, he’d come out of the blocks flying in the opening Superbike race. Setting the quickest lap of the week so far from a standing start, Dunlop took a steady lead at the front of the opening six lapper before a mechanical problem saw him ruled out. Was taking on this new bike too much of an ask?
In recent years, Dunlop’s forte has been the Superbike class with rival Ian Hutchinson dominating Supersport and Superstock, but despite Hutchy having won the last four 600cc races on the island, Dunlop came out fighting in sketchy conditions this year to win the one and only Supersport race with the second cancelled due to bad weather.
He’d then go on to win big in the Senior TT. A change of rear shock during a red flag period following early race leader Ian Hutchinson’s crash appeared to give Dunlop the pace he needed to fight at the front and that he did, blitzing second-placed Peter Hickman to take his second Senior TT success in a row – all on a brand-new bike.
He’d enjoy further success at the Southern 100, winning all but one of the Superbike races and also cleaned up at Armoy.
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