Michael Dunlop takes 22nd TT win during first race of Isle of Man TT 2023

Michael Dunlop takes 22nd TT win during first race of Isle of Man TT 2023

Michael Dunlop took his 22nd TT victory, after winning the opening race of the Isle of Man TT.

Dunlop took the lead at Ballaugh on lap one and was never headed, eventually winning in a race record time by 12.3 seconds.

Peter Hickman took the second place, followed by Dean Harrison.

That means Dunlop is now one win away from matching the record of John McGuinness, and four behind his late uncle, Joey Dunlop.

Harrison led through Glen Helen on lap one, his advantage over Dunlop half a second with Hickman a further second back in third.

Davey Todd was another seven tenths of a second back with Harrison’s team-mate James Hillier two tenths of the Honda rider.

Jamie Coward rounded out the early top six with 3.4s covering the top six riders but Mike Browne was a non-starter having blown an engine in the earlier warm-up lap.

Dunlop nosed ahead on the run to Ballaugh with his advantage over Harrison now 1.5 seconds with a similar distance back to Hickman.

Coward had moved up to fourth though having overhauled both Todd and Hillier.

Behind them, James Hind and Craig Neve were going well in seventh and eighth.

Peter Hickman finished second in the opening race of the Isle of Man TT. credits: Isle of Man TT

The lead had stretched to 3.6 seconds at Ramsey and the gap widened as Dunlop went up and over Snaefell Mountain, an opening lap of 128.305 mph giving him a 5.4 s advantage over Harrison.

Hickman remained in third but was now 4.6 seconds adrift of Harrison although he was holding a similar gap over fourth-placed Coward.

Todd and Hillier were locked in battle for fifth with Hind still in seventh but there was a change further back with Paul Jordan up to eighth ahead of Rob Hodson and David Johnson.

Lap two and Harrison continued to lead on the road, but he was continuously losing ground to Dunlop, the gap at Glen Helen up to 7.3 seconds.

Dunlop had also overtaken Coward so had clear track ahead of him and had Harrison firmly in his sights.

Third to sixth remained the same, but Jordan had now got ahead of Hind for seventh.

Dunlop continued to extend his lead throughout the second lap and as he came into the pits for fuel, an improved lap speed of 129.136mph gave him a healthy 13.4s advantage.

Harrison, in turn, was only 8.6s clear of Hickman with Coward still in contention for a podium position as he sat just 6.2 seconds adrift.

Michael Dunlop finished with a race record time by 12.3 seconds. credits: Isle of Man TT

Todd and Hillier were still running in fifth and sixth with Jordan in seventh but Hodson and Johnson both moved up a place as Hind was hit with a 30 second penalty for speeding in pit lane, the youngster dropping out of the top ten because of the indiscretion .

After the fuel stop, Harrison cut Dunlop’s lead by two seconds on the third run to Glen Helen with Coward losing time at the pits and falling into the clutches of Todd, the gap between them now down to two seconds.

Back at the front and Dunlop quickly reasserted himself back in the race and going into the fourth and final lap, his lead stood at 17.5s.

With a comfortable advantage, all eyes fell on the battle for a second with Hickman cutting the gap to Harrison in just 3.9 seconds.

Coward, meanwhile, had edged away from Todd once more to the tune of 5.3 seconds with Hillier in a safe sixth.

With a healthy margin, Dunlop was able to ride to his signals on the final lap and duly took the checked flag for yet another TT victory, but Hickman closed in on Harrison throughout the lap and finally got the better of him on the one-mile dash from Cronk ny Mona to the Grandstand, aided by a 129mph+ lap.

Coward saw off the challenge of Todd to take a fine fourth with Hillier in sixth ahead of Jordan, Johnson, Hodson and Hind who recovered from his penalty to take tenth.

Local rider Ryan Cringle was the best newcomer in 22nd after lapping at 120.364mph on his final lap.

Racing continues on the island with the first Superbike race due to take place on Sunday.

Want a quick and expert briefing on the biggest news stories? Listen to our latest podcasts to find out What You Need To Know.