Michael Dunlop won a thrilling Okells Junior race at the Classic TT on the Isle of Man on Monday to clinch his maiden win in the class on the Mountain Course.
Dunlop had to chase down Michael Rutter after pitting for fuel on the Black Eagle MV Agusta, while Rutter had the advantage of being able to complete the four-lap distance without having to make a stop on the Ripley Land Racing Honda.
In the end, the 27-year-old won with 10 seconds in hand to set himself up perfectly for the feature Motorsport Merchandise Classic Superbike race later in the day.
“I pushed really hard but for some reason we had a problem on the first couple of laps with the throttle. But the boys gave me a great package and I got Michael over the top of the Mountain,” said Dunlop.
“It’s fantastic and I didn’t think somebody as fat as me could win a race like this! The bike never missed a beat so fair play to those boys for the bike to do four laps around here. I’m just delighted for the team.
“I backed off a bit on the last lap because we didn’t have to keep pushing and it’s all good. Thanks to all the fans out there who were cheering and waving and it’s funny how you can see so much on these wee bikes because you’re going that bit slower.”
Dunlop battled throughout with Rutter, who opened a lead of 35 seconds when the Northern Ireland rider stopped to take on fuel.
Fastest in practice for the class, Dunlop had already opened a lead of seven seconds on lap one at Glen Helen over Rutter, with Jamie Coward in third. William Dunlop, one of the pre-race favourites, was an early retirement on the Davies Motorsport Honda while Dean Harrison was also in trouble on the Black Eagle MV Agusta, eventually retiring at the end of lap one.
At the end of the first lap, Dunlop’s advantage was now 10 seconds over Rutter following an opening speed of 103.775mph with Rutter close behind on the road. Coward was still third ahead of Oversby, with Cameron Donald next.
Rutter managed a quicker second lap than Dunlop at 103.974mph to cut his lead to seven seconds and he forged ahead at the end of the lap, going straight through as Dunlop came in for fuel.
With Rutter clear by 35 seconds, Dunlop put his head down and began to hunt down the new race leader, slashing the gap to 13.5 seconds as he began the fourth and final lap.
The 13-time Isle of Man TT winner set the fastest lap of the race at 104.475mph on the final lap as he relentlessly pursued Rutter, taking the lead at Ballaugh and closing in on the rear wheel of the Ripley Land Honda by the time they reached Ramsey Hairpin.
Dunlop went on to seal victory as he flashed across the line side by side with Rutter, with Oversby taking third after Coward retired at Kerrowmoar. The top six was completed by Cameron Donald, Dan Cooper and Danny Webb.