Dunlop Dominates at the Southern 100

Michael Dunlop’s dominance of the 2016 road racing season continued last week with the Ulsterman taking four wins from four starts at the Southern 100. Riding the Buildbase/Hawk Racing BMW for the first time since his record-breaking exploits at the TT, the 27-year was never challenged over the course of the three days and with leads in excess of three seconds after just the first lap, it’s fair to say he was leagues above anyone else.

But that didn’t stop him trying hard, or putting on a show, and his fastest lap in the feature Solo Championship race, which he won for the third time, was in excess of 114mph and just a whisker outside of the lap record. If push had come to shove, he would have beaten it for sure and it was ideal preparation for next month’s Ulster GP.

Best of the rest

As expected, the best of the rest proved to be Dean Harrison and Ivan Lintin although the former’s challenge was blunted somewhat by a highside in the very first race, believed to be caused by cold tyres. The combination of a slow warm-up lap – where the riders have to follow a car at something like 50mph – and being held on the grid too long led to complaints from many riders and it was the Bradford rider who paid the price, coming to grief in front of the pack at Ballakeighan.

Fortunately, he escaped injury and he went on to win both Supersport races as well as taking the runners-up spot behind Dunlop in the feature race.

Lintin’s dominance of the Supertwin class continued with another brace and he took third in the feature race, ending the week with six podiums from seven starts. Only an overshoot in the second Supersport race prevented a 100% rostrum record but he fought his way from 15th through to fourth in that particular race.

Check out the 360 view of Lintin in action…

The Kneen Machine returns

If truth be told, the entry at this year’s event wasn’t as strong as it has been in previous years and the meeting doesn’t attract an awful lot of the leading TT riders. However, a positive aspect from this year’s races was the return of Dan Kneen after a two month lay-off due to injury.

The Manxman started the season strongly at the Irish National road races and looked to be in prime form heading into the North West 200 and his home event, the Isle of Man TT. The Mar-Train Racing Yamaha rider suffered a broken arm though in a mountain bike training spill and was forced to miss both events.

He was back in action at the Southern though and although the 4.25-mile Billown circuit dished out major punishment to his recently healed broken arm, with its bumps and heavy braking, he was on the fringes of the rostrum throughout the week.

Dan Kneen at Southern 100 credit Mar-Train Racing

New faces

The Southern 100 did attract a number of newcomers to the event and Devitt RC Express’ Alan Bonner looked set to be the most impressive after taking sixth in the opening Superbike race and recording one of the fastest ever laps by a circuit debutante at over 109mph.

However, his hopes were ended on the final race day when a rider ahead of him missed a gear and, with nowhere to go, the Southern Irishman ploughed into the back of him and was ruled out for the rest of the day – and a few weeks – with a broken arm and hand.

Northern Ireland’s Darryl Tweed impressed greatly on his 675cc Triumph Daytona and 400cc Kawasaki whilst fellow countryman, and youngster, Adam McLeanalso showed great form.

Alan Bonner at Southern 100 2016 by Stephen Davison - Pacemaker Press International

Chairs entertain

It was left to the sidecar class to provide the greatest entertainment and the three wheel line-up was certainly world class with TT winners Tim Reeves/Patrick Farrance, Ben/Tom Birchall, Dave Molyneux/Dan Sayle and John Holden/Andy Winkle all in attendance.

The Billown circuit is certainly narrow and bumpy and there’s not much room for sidecars to be side by side but that mattered little to the aforementioned quartet and they fought tooth and nail in both F2 Sidecar races.

Tim and Patrick in action at the Southern 100 2016 credit Stephen Davison - Pacemaker Press International

There was little to choose between them and Reeves. Birchall and Holden all made history on the feature race day as they all broke the 100mph barrier, the first time ever for the sidecars to  achieve such a feat.

Both sidecar races were spectacular to say the least and the chairs stole the headlines for their close racing and feats at this year’s Southern 100.

Do you think Michael Dunlop is the greatest road racer of 2016? Take our poll and leave your comments below. 

Having started watching motorcycle races all over the world form childhood, Phil Wain has been a freelance motorcycle journalist for 15 years and is features writer for a number of publications including BikeSport News and Classic Racer, having also been a regular contributor to MCN and MCN Sport. He is PR officer for a number of teams and riders at both the British Superbike Championship and International road races, including Smiths Triumph, Quattro Plant Kawasaki, John McGuinness, Ryan Farquhar and Keith Amor. He is also heavily involved with the Isle of Man TT Races, writing official press releases and race reports as well as providing ITV4 with statistical information.