William Dunlop finds himself in unchartered territory at this year's Isle of Man TT races, where's he's being tipped as a race winner for the first time.

In previous seasons Dunlop has made the trip across the Irish Sea with an outside chance of finishing on the rostrum.

But this time, it's different.

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The 26-year-old has gradually built on his experience of the iconic Mountain Course and now in his second term with Wilson Craig's Honda team, Dunlop is comfortable in his surroundings and is growing in stature as he begins to assert himself as a serious player in the feature classes on the roads.

He defeated British Supersport champion Alastair Seeley to win the first 600cc race at the North West 200 - his maiden success on the Triangle course in the four-stroke classes - and Dunlop is bidding for more of the same at the most celebrated road race of them all.

Rather than feeling intimidated by the expectation that his first victory at the Isle of Man TT is on the cards this year, Dunlop is at ease with the pre-TT hype marking him out as a major contender.

"A lot of people are tipping me this year at the TT and saying I can do this and I can do that, but I feel it myself," he told the Belfast News Letter.

"This is the first year I've really felt as though I've got a chance at the TT.

"It's nothing to do with what anyone else is saying, I just feel myself that I have half a chance here.

"There is a bit of pressure and I was even disappointed after Saturday's practice laps on the Supertwin because the bike wasn't handling how I wanted it and because I was slowed down after I got some flies on my visor," he added.

"I wouldn't have cared as much before but I was thinking 'I've missed out on two good laps there' so I was looking at it as a missed opportunity whereas before I was just going out and trying to learn the place."

Already, William has stood on the top step at the North West and Ulster Grand Prix and he now has ambitions of completing the set with a prestigious TT success - a feat he readily accepts is the pinnacle of any road racer's career.

"A TT win is the peak for every rider. It's one that I don't have and it would complete the set if I could get a win there," he said.

"But to win at the TT is much harder to achieve than at any other race but I shouldn't b too far away."

His chances on Craig's CBR6000RR are obvious, but the unassuming Ballymoney man is excited by his prospects on the 1000cc Fireblade, with a lap of 130mph among his top priorities in Saturday's Dainese Superbike race.

"I'm really looking forward to getting out on the Superbike and I can't wait to get some track time on the big bike - it will be interesting," he said.

"I'm as good on the Superbike as I am on the 600 and I don't expect to win any of them, but we should have a good pace on both bikes and I'm looking to do a decent job.

"You never know with the Superbike, you could get out there and things might not work out, but at the minute it's looking pretty good."