Isle of Man TT: Michael Dunlop clinches emotional Superbike triumph

Isle of Man TT: Michael Dunlop clinches emotional Superbike triumph
Isle of Man TT: Michael Dunlop clinches emotional Superbike triumph
Dunlop took victory three days after the death of team-mate Dan Kneen in a practice crash at the Isle of Man TT

Michael Dunlop secured his 16th Isle of Man TT win by taking an emotional victory in Saturday's Superbike opener at the meeting.

The 29-year-old's success came just three days after the death of his Tyco BMW team-mate Dan Kneen in a practice crash at the meeting.

Dunlop finished 51 seconds ahead of Conor Cummins with James Hillier third.

"I wanted to do something in Dan's memory. That win is for his family," said Dunlop.

"It's hard to celebrate this win - it's been a hard week."

Dunlop's win sees him draw level with Ian Hutchinson as the third most successful solo rider in the history of the event.

Dean Harrison built up an 18-second lead over his rival after the Kawasaki pilot set a staggering new absolute lap record of 134.432mph on his first circuit.

The Yorkshireman's advantage was reduced by the end of lap two and his retirement on the fourth lap left Dunlop with a comfortable lead.

"I struggled at the start and it took me time to settle. I had a bit of a problem with the rear end but I got my rhythm going and the Tyco BMW team have done a great job," added Dunlop.

For Dunlop, it was a fourth Superbike TT win of his career, the Ballymoney man having also come out on to in the traditional six-lap curtain-raiser of the meeting in 2013, 2014 and 2016.

The 29-year-old has now won six of the last nine 'big bike' races around the Mountain Course, taking into consideration his three Senior TT triumphs.

Six of his victories have come on BMW machinery but it was Harrison who set the pace in the early stages on his Silicone Engineering-backed machine.

The practice pacesetter blitzed the opposition with a blistering standing start opening lap of 16 minutes 50.384 seconds for the 37.73-mile circuit to lead by 11.5 seconds from Dunlop.

The Northern Irishman began to erode the Bradford rider's advantage and Harrison's retirement left the way clear for Dunlop to romp home at race record speed.

Cummins' second place included a personal best lap of 132.589 and he led Hillier by 21 seconds by the end of the race.

Michael Rutter was fifth and Lee Johnston sixth but fortune was not on the side of Peter Hickman, who retired at the end of lap one while occupying a rostrum spot.

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