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Michael Dunlop celebrates hat-trick of UGP wins
15 August 2011
Michael Dunlop continued his fine road racing form of 2011 as he took a hat-trick of victories during the Ulster Grand Prix meeting to complete his target of taking wins in all of the International Road Races.
With changeable conditions afflicting the event, a variety of tyre choices were adopted ahead of the Superstock race, with Dunlop opting for slicks, while Guy Martin played it safe with intermediate rubber.
Though Gary Johnson led away, it wasn't long before Martin and Dunlop hit the front, continually swapping places as they forged a lead over the chasing pack. The duel was finally decided when Dunlop hit the front on his Street Sweep Kawasaki coming down the 'flying kilo' on the last lap.
He held the lead to beat Martin on his Relentless by TAS Suzuki by two seconds at the flag, who in turn was a further ten seconds in front of fellow Lincolnshire man Johnson on the East Coast Honda.
That winning feeling carried over to the Supersport race for Dunlop, though this time his toughest challenge came from brother William. After a frenetic first lap, William and Michael moved to the front of the leading group and made a small break.
The action between the two was relentless as they fought throughout the race, allowing Bruce Anstey on the Padgett's Honda the opportunity to make a late charge. Less than a second separated the three at the flag, with Michael just taking the win from William, who went deep at the final hairpin, from Anstey.
Conditions stayed dry and sunny for the second Supersport race, with Cameron Donald and William Dunlop taking the early advantage. The two Wilson Craig Honda riders swapped the lead constantly, while Michael and Guy Martin maintained a watching brief from their positions in third and fourth places.
At half distance, Martin had been dropped slightly by the leading trio but following a 128mph average lap, Michael hit the front. The penultimate lap saw Donald back in front at Joey's Windmill, but Michael Dunlop would retake the lead on the final lap at the Flying Kilo.
Donald attempted to fight back with a run on the lead at Deer's Leap, but his joy is shortlived when he ran in too deep. As such, William Dunlop moved into second at Cochranstown before taking the lead from his brother through Ireland's corner, but the race would be decided at the Hairpin when William Dunlop runs in too hot to allow his brother through again. Backmarkers conspired to end William Dunlop's charge there, allowing Michael Dunlop to take the flag from Wilson Craig Honda duo
The chance of winning all five of the races he entered fell away on the sighting lap of the main event when his Superbike engine let him down. He rushed back to the startline, jumped on his Superstock machine and completed the race in a creditable seventh place.
The final Superbike race of the day was also completed on the nearer road specification machine, with seventh place again being the best that could be achieved.
With these wins, another Dunlop is added to the roll call of winners at the Ulster Grand Prix, following the footsteps of his father Robert, an Ulster GP winner on nine occasions, and his Uncle Joey, who has a staggering 24 wins to his name.
by Graham Edwards
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