Dunlop lived up to his Honda TT Legends team billing, leading the timing from midway through the opening lap. From there the son of TT great Robert Dunlop and nephew of Joey Dunlop, plowed forward unchallenged – managing to open a 40-second gap on eventual second-place rider, Wilson Craig Honda’s Donald.
The victory marks Dunlop’s first TT win in the Superbike class, having previously earned two Supersport victories and a single Superstock win at the Isle. It is also Dunlop’s first TT win for Honda, celebrated 30 years after his famed uncle’s first Isle of Man TT victory for Big Red. The timely result came with Dunlop’s Honda TT Legends teammate, McGuinness, running a special livery in tribute to Joey Dunlop – including the King of the Roads’ distinctive yellow helmet.
“The Superbike was the main goal for me. It’s been a dream of mine and it honestly hasn’t sunk in yet that I’ve won it,” said Dunlop in a Honda TT press release. “I never got to ride with Joey so when I caught John on the road in the tribute livery it was kind of weird and I had to think twice that it wasn’t Joey. John was so smooth and he’s taken over the title of King of the Mountain, so to sit behind him and follow those lines was just fantastic. It was a very special moment. The Superbike was just unbelievable, it handled lovely and I can’t thank Honda and the team enough.”
Dunlop earned his victory by overtaking early leader Gary Johnson on the timing. Johnson would run a podium pace but was forced to retire after running out of fuel before the first of two scheduled fuel stops. The pit lane fuel stops would bite two other contenders as well. Dunlop’s elder brother, William, suffered a 30-second penalty that dropped him out of sixth during the first stop. The second stop saw McGuinness pelted with a one-minute penalty, dropping him from second-place to fourth.
As the riders queued up for the final two laps after the second stop, Dunlop was comfortably ahead of his nearest challenger, Donald, who was in turn followed by Tyco Suzuki’s Guy Martin and McGuinness. The Northern Irish rider caught Donald and McGuinness on the road, and cruised to a comfortable victory.
McGuinness recovered from his pit-lane penalty, and leapfrogged ahead of Martin for the final rostrum position by virtue of his record-setting final lap. All three of the podium riders set personal lap bests in the Superbike race, but the English rider and 19-time TT winner outpaced all with his remarkable 131.671 mph finale.
Michael Dunlop leads Cameron Donald in the opening Superbike TT. Dunlop would go on to beat the Australian runner-up by more than 40 seconds en route to his first career Superbike TT victory.
John McGuinness, running Joey Dunlop tribute livery in the Superbike TT, would break the Mountain course record with his final lap of the day – 131.671 mph.
“I’d ridden hard for five laps and on that last lap I just pushed and pushed, giving it everything I could and I’m just pleased I was able to nick the podium back,” said McGuinness. “I’m so proud to wear the Joey Dunlop colors from 2000. I was in the same position on the podium with him in the Superbike race that year, and now here I am next to another Dunlop. I wanted to win but it wasn’t to be. I’m on the podium and the consolation is the lap record.”
Martin finished seven seconds shy of the podium. The Suzuki ace was followed by the top-finishing Manx rider, Conor Cummins aboard the Milwaukee Yamaha and the third Honda TT Legends rider, Michael Rutter. James Hillier was the top-place ZX-10R rider, finishing seventh. New Zealand rider Bruce Anstey was eighth aboard the Padgetts Honda entry, one spot ahead of Cummins’ teammate, William Dunlop. Rounding out the top ten was the respectable debut of TT newcomer, Australian Josh Brookes, as the BSB regular managed a 123.863 mph average and a best lap of 127.726 mph.
2013 Isle of Man Superbike TT Results:
1. Michael Dunlop (Honda) 128.747 mph
2. Cameron Donald (Honda) 127.920 mph
3. John McGuinness (Honda) 127.102 mph
4. Guy Martin (Suzuki) 126.964 mph
5. Conor Cummins (Yamaha) 126.333 mph
6. Michael Rutter (Honda) 126.260 mph
7. James Hillier (Kawasaki) 126.063 mph
8. Bruce Anstey (Honda) 125.690 mph
9. William Dunlop (Yamaha) 124.642 mph
10. Joshua Brookes (Suzuki) 123.863 mph