Top 10 Road Racers of the Year 2013: 1. Michael Dunlop
Country: Northern Ireland Team: Honda TT Legends/MD Racing

2013 Results: NW200 Wins: 1 Podiums: 2

TT Wins: 4 Podiums: 5
Ulster Grand Prix Wins: 1 Podiums: 2

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Michael Dunlop set the road racing benchmark in 2013 as the Northern Ireland star raised his game to a new level, taking four stunning victories at the Isle of Man TT.

The 24-year-old signed for the Honda TT Legends team and shocked John McGuinness with a sensational victory in the opening Superbike race TT before completing a fabulous four-timer with a double in the Supersport class and a record-breaking Superstock success.

Dunlop lapped at 131.220mph on his MD Racing Fireblade on his way to victory in the Superstock race, only 3.5 seconds slower than McGuinness's outright lap record set on the factory Honda Superbike.

It was the Ballymoney man's fastest ever lap of the Mountain Course and drew gracious admiration from TT icon McGuinness himself, who described the feat as 'special'.

Dunlop also set a new record lap in the second Supersport race at 128.667mph to overhaul Bruce Anstey on a blistering final lap, adding another win during a memorable week on the Isle of Man.

Many felt Dunlop would go on to equal Ian Hutchinson's five wins in a week as he prepared for the blue riband Senior TT, but it was McGuinness who came out fighting to seal victory in the big race of the week - his 20th Isle of Man TT success.

Dunlop, though, pushed the Morecambe man all the way, crossing the line in second place and only 10 seconds adrift after six laps of hard racing around the 37.73-mile public roads track.

It was a coming of age year for Dunlop, who also took his first four-stroke win at the North West 200 in May in atrocious conditions in the second Supersport race before the meeting was abandoned.

Dunlop took the honours in the Superstock race at the Ulster Grand Prix and finished second to Guy Martin in the min Superbike race after a gripping battle on the final lap.

He was ruled out of the second Superbike race at Dundrod with machine trouble, but made amends at the Scarborough Gold Cup meeting in September, winning the prestigious trophy for the first time.

The hard-riding Ulsterman was unable to retain his Solo Championship title at the Southern 100 in July, with Martin emerging victorious. However, he maintained his winning momentum with a brace in the Superbike class on the Honda Legends machine at Billown.

Dunlop also excelled at the Irish national road races, finishing the season unbeaten on his MD Racing Honda Fireblade after taking wins at Cookstown, Tandragee, Skerries, Armoy and Killalane.

However, he parted company from Honda in November and released a statement suggesting he could take a year away from the sport in 2014 unless a suitable deal materialised.

Unsurprisingly, he has been linked with a string of teams interested in acquiring his services next season, including Yamaha and BMW and it remains to be seen whether or not road racing's most exciting talent returns to defend his Isle of Man TT titles next June.

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