Classic TT: Michael Dunlop and Lee Johnston lead Suzuki charge

Michael Dunlop made it back-to-back wins in the Classic Superbike race in 2016 on the Team Classic Suzuki XR69, setting a new lap record.
Michael Dunlop made it back-to-back wins in the Classic Superbike race in 2016 on the Team Classic Suzuki XR69, setting a new lap record.
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Michael Dunlop will again spearhead Team Classic Suzuki’s effort at the Classic TT next month along with fellow Northern Ireland rider Lee Johnston.

A three-man line-up in Steve Wheatman’s team also includes Danny Webb, with the trio riding identically prepared GSX-R1000 XR69 machines in the Motorsport Merchandise Classic TT race on Monday, August 29.

Michael Dunlop in action at the Classic TT in 2016 on the Team Classic Suzuki XR69 at Creg-ny-Baa.

Michael Dunlop in action at the Classic TT in 2016 on the Team Classic Suzuki XR69 at Creg-ny-Baa.

Ulsterman Dunlop is aiming to make it three wins in a row and four in total in the headline race. The 15-time Isle of Man TT winner claimed victory at the inaugural meeting in 2013 and retired from the race the following year, but Dunlop sealed back-to-back triumphs in 2015 and 2016, raising the lap record to 126.808mph last summer.

He remains the man to beat, but the opposition is as tough as ever, with Flying Kiwi Bruce Anstey returning on the Padgetts Yamaha YZR500 GP machine as he bids to repeat his 2014 victory.

Dunlop’s team-mate, Lee Johnston, missed the event through injury last year and although the Fermanagh man is recovering following a crash in practice last month at the TT, Johnston is set to return to the Mountain Course.

He finished fifth in 2014 and seventh in 2015, lapping at 123.636mph. The ‘General’ is already a winner at the Classic TT meeting, claiming his maiden win around the 37.73-mile course in the Junior Classic race in 2014 on the Black Eagle MV Agusta.

Lee Johnston hopes to return to the Classic TT in August after missing the event through injury in 2016 following a crash at the Ulster Grand Prix.

Lee Johnston hopes to return to the Classic TT in August after missing the event through injury in 2016 following a crash at the Ulster Grand Prix.

Completing the Team Classic Suzuki line-up is former 125cc and Moto3 World Championship contender Danny Webb, who hopes to be fully fit after suffering a dislocated shoulder and neck injuries following a crash at Laurel Bank during qualifying for this year’s TT. The 26-year old was part of the squad last season and lapped at 121.289mph on his way to a solid sixth place.

Team owner Wheatman said Dunlop will have the machinery at his disposal to enable him to maintain his winnings streak at the meeting.

“The Classic TT has quickly turned into a prestigious event with a high quality entry, so we expect a very hard challenge from the rest of the opposition in the Superbike race,” he said.

“In Michael we have a consistent race winner and he will be looking to add to his win tally and we will be providing him a bike capable of doing that. Lee and Danny are both coming off the back of injuries from the TT, but both expect to be fully fit in time and we know they are both capable of featuring at the front of the race.”

The Classic TT takes place from August 26-28 and precedes the Manx Grand Prix, with both events incorporated into the Isle of Man Festival of Motorcycling. Practice week is scheduled to commence on Saturday, August 19.