Michael Dunlop is on the verge of becoming the most successful competitor in the 116-year history of the TT, writes John Watterson.
Having already clocked up four wins this week (up to Friday morning), he is now on a total of 25 TT victories – one short of his illustrious late uncle, Joey Dunlop.
He came into the 2023 event on 21 victories and ramped that up to 23 last weekend with back-to-back successes in the Supersport 1 and Superbike races on Saturday and Sunday.
He added a third win in the opening Supertwin race on Tuesday evening and a fourth in Supersport 2 on Wednesday to bring the tally up to 25.
Dunlop starts as clear favourite to mop up the second Supertwin race this afternoon (Friday) at 2 o’clock, while he has to be in with good chances for the Superstock (today at 11.45am) and the blue riband Senior tomorrow at 12.15pm.
Peter Hickman won the first Superstock race quite comfortably on Tuesday, and would appear to be favourite today for a repeat on the FHO Racing BMW.
So that leaves the final showdown on Saturday, which could well be the closest of the week.
If Michael does win the Supertwin today, as hotly predicted, it would put him equal with Joey, so one wonders if he would then lack the motivation to go one better than his uncle, for this year at least?
Michael is very much his own man and doesn’t require extra motivation to go for gold. Winning is in his DNA.
But it is likely that he might settle for five wins in one week (level with Ian Hutchinson’s achievement in 2010) and equal best on 26 with Joey, then return to better it next year – which he is quite capable of doing.
Michael’s achievements are quite remarkable. He was 18 when he made his TT debut in 2007, having won a class of the Newcomers Manx Grand Prix the year before on a 125cc Honda.
He achieved his maiden TT success in 2009, the first of his string of successes in the Supersport class, and had clocked up 10 wins by the time he was 25.
As a straight comparison, Joey made his TT debut in 1976 and won his first race in 1977 when he was 25. When Joey reached the same age as Michael is now, in 1986, he had ‘only’ won eight TTs.
He was aged 41 when he surpassed the previous record tally of 14 by Mike Hailwood and 48 when he famously won three in his final TT in 2000.
Somebody asked the question this week would Michael retire when he has the record. That is highly unlikely.
With his determination to excel against all the odds at times, Michael could have numerous TT successes under his belt by the time he reaches his 40s. He is an audacious and incredible talent.