Ballymoney’s Michael Dunlop claimed an emotional victory under tragic circumstances in the RST Superbike race at the Isle of Man TT in June.
It was a bittersweet 16th triumph for the 29-year-old around the Mountain Course following the death of his team-mate, Manxman Dan Kneen, in practice.
Just as Adrian Archibald lifted spirits in the TAS Racing team following the death of David Jefferies 15 years ago at the TT in 2003, Dunlop rose to the occasion and afterwards dedicated his win to the memory of 30-year-old Kneen, who came off at Churchtown near Ramsey.
He was a commanding winner in the end on the S1000RR by 50 seconds from Conor Cummins, who rode a superb race on the Padgett’s Honda to claim second place, while James Hillier completed the top three on the JG Speedfit Kawasaki.
Bradford’s Dean Harrison was cruelly ruled out as he led on lap four at Sulby crossroads after shattering a host of records on the Silicone Engineering Kawasaki, establishing a new outright lap record of 134.432mph from a standing start, a time of 16m 50.384s.
Dunlop said: “It’s been a hard week for the boys and everybody in the team, but everyone worked hard and I’d just like to thank them and Hector and Philip (Neill).
“I’ve dedicated this to Dan and he was my team-mate after all. It’s one of those things and it’s a pity he wasn’t here. None of us can do anything to make it better but that is for the family.”
The top six was completed by David Johnson on the Gulf BMW, who was 32.718s behind Hillier, with Michael Rutter (Bathams BMW) and Fermanagh’s Lee Johnston (Honda Racing) finalising the top six.
Dunlop made it a double as he won the opening Supersport race on his MD Racing Honda for his 17th victory, setting a stunning new benchmark of 129mph.
He won by 10.2 seconds to claim his seventh Supersport TT win from Dean Harrison on the Silicone Engineering Kawasaki, with Peter Hickman (Trooper Beer Smiths Triumph) edging out James Hillier (JG Speedfit Kawasaki) to seal the final spot on the podium.
A superb treble was completed by the Ulster rider as he took his maiden win in the Lightweight TT on the Paton, making Dunlop the third most successful rider ever at the event on 18 victories. Only his uncle Joey (26) and John McGuinness (23) have won more races at the TT.
Dunlop won by over 14 seconds from Mullingar rider Derek McGee (KMR Kawasaki).
The Northern Ireland man – who finished as the runner-up in the Superstock race – had to settle for fourth place in the blue riband Senior TT on the Tyco BMW, which was won by Peter Hickman in record-breaking style as he set the first ever 135mph lap to edge out Dean Harrison by only two seconds. Conor Cummins completed the top three.