Michael Dunlop took his eighth TT victory when he won Saturday’s 6-lap Dainese Superbike race in record-breaking style. The BMW Motorrad rider took control from early race leader James Hillier at Ballaugh on the opening lap and, aided by two laps inside the old outright lap record, he surged clear and was able to control the race in the closing stages to take the win by 20.5 seconds on Tyco Suzuki’s Guy Martin. Rounding out the podium was Honda Racing’s Conor Cummins.
Hillier was quickest to Glen Helen on the opening lap on his and he led Dunlop by one second with Martin, RC Express Racing Kawasaki’s Dean Harrison, Lincs Lifting Honda’s Gary Johnson and Cookstown BE Racing Suzuki’s Dan Kneen close behind.
As the lap unfolded though, it was clear Dunlop was charging and after passing Hillier at Ballaugh, he increased his lead with a new lap record of 131.730 mph, gapping Martin by 9.4 seconds.
The leaderboard was constantly changing and Cummins moved up into third with Hillier, Harrison and John McGuinness completing the top six while Johnson had to retire at Cregny Baa.
Dunlop, Martin, McGuinness and Hillier were circulating in close formation on the roads, but Dunlop’s lead was increasing and he was first into the pits at the end of lap four, increasing the gap on Martin to a very healthy looking 25s after another 130 mph plus lap. Martin was coming under pressure from Cummins though with his advantage now under five seconds for the first time while Rutter was still in fourth with McGuinness and William Dunlop completing the top six.
As the race went into it’s final laps, Dunlop and Martin were still together on the roads but Dunlop went on to control the race for his eighth victory and BMW’s first ‘big bike’ win since German Georg Meier won Senior in 1939.
Martin took his 14th podium in second with Cummins three seconds further back after doing his all on the final lap.
Rutter ensured it was a good day for BMW with a strong fifth with William Dunlop making a late charge to overhaul McGuinness on the final lap, the gap between the pair just 0.8s after six hard laps.
The 20-times winner made a valiant effort for seventh with his wrist injury, but McGuiness was unable to run the pace for six entire laps. Harrison and Hillier both dropped back as the race wore on, finishing in eighth and ninth with Australian Josh Brookes completing the top ten.
Next to Dunlop’s impressive victory was also New Zealander Bruce Anstey’s record breaking pace, lapping the course at more than 132mph with a final lap of 132.298mph - some six seconds quicker than McGuinness’ lap set in the same race last year - on the Valvoline Racing/Padgetts Honda. In spite of making history at the Isle of Man, an opening lap error still had Anstey finishing outside of the top 10.