Michael Dunlop made a winning start at the Southern 100 as the Northern Ireland rider secured a hard-earned victory over Dan Kneen in the Corlett's Trophies 600/1000 race.

Dunlop, who dominated the 1000cc races in 2016 with a four-timer at Billown, had to dig deep on the Bennetts Suzuki to get the better of Manx rider Kneen (DTR BMW) in a thrilling finish, with Bradford's Dean Harrison snapping at their heels on the Silicone Engineering Kawasaki.

There was nothing to separate Kneen and Dunlop throughout, with the Isle of Man rider leading the way until Dunlop made his move to hit the front with two laps to go.

The 15-time Isle of Man TT winner then set the fastest lap of the race to open a gap of almost half a second over Kneen, but the local rider was in determined mood and soon closed the deficit on his S1000RR.

Harrison was now right in touch as the race entered the seventh and final lap of the 4.25-mile course, with Dunlop still hanging on at the front.

Kneen smashed the lap record for the race on his final circuit with a new speed of 114.185mph but was unable to find a way past Dunlop, who wrapped up the win by only 0.156s. Harrison was around 1.2s back as he completed the top three on his ZX-10R.

Jamie Coward crossed the line in fourth on the Radcliffe's Butchers BMW, a long way clear of Ivan Lintin on the Dafabet RC Express Kawasaki, while fellow Yorkshireman James Cowton was a lonely sixth on the McAdoo Kawasaki.

Joe Thompson was the first 600cc rider home on his Kawasaki, finishing 15th overall.

The 125/400 race on Tuesday evening was won by Northern Ireland's Darryl Tweed from fellow Ballymoney man Seamus Elliott.

Dan Sayle was the first 125/Moto3 rider home in third on his Moto3 Honda. Gary Dunlop was 13th on the Joey's Bar Moto3 Honda.

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