Isle of Man TT winner Michael Dunlop is preparing to defend his Southern 100 titles as racing for the 2012 meeting on the Billown course gets underway this evening.

Dunlop, who won the second Supersport race at the TT last month, broke the outright lap record in the feature Solo Championship race on his way to victory at the event last year.

The 23-year-old also tasted success in the 600cc class and could take some stopping at the 4.25-mile circuit near Castletown.

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"I enjoy the Southern 100 and I go really well around there," said Dunlop.

"I became the only rider to break into the 2m 15s bracket last year and I managed it when I had a gap over the rest of them and should have been easing off.

"As long as the bike is handling well then we should be up there," he added.

"Guy [Martin] will probably give me a push and Ryan [Farquhar] shouldn't be far away either."

Dunlop threw down the gauntlet as he posted the fastest lap during Monday evening's first practice session with a speed of 109.573mph on his Hunts Motorcycles/McAdoo Honda Fireblade.

Tyco Suzuki's Martin was second quickest at 108.112mph followed by Farquhar on his KMR Kawasaki at 107.035mph.

Veteran Ian Lougher topped the Supersport times on his ILR Kawasaki.

Lougher lapped at 105.403mph to take the top spot from Martin (104.679mph), Dunlop (104.644mph) and Conor Cummins (104.201mph).

Manx rider Cummins is returning to action after being forced to miss the Isle of Man TT as a result of a wrist injury he sustained in a crash at the North West 200, when he was wiped out by Gary Johnson's wayward machine.

Final practice continues this evening, followed by the opening race of the 2012 programme - the Senior Solo Founders race - with Dunlop pitched into battle with Martin, Farquhar and Cummins.