Michael Dunlop warmed up for this week’s Steam Packet Southern 100 with a victory in the Open Superbike race at Walderstown.
Dunlop followed up his victory at the Skerries 100 with a repeat success on his MD Racing BMW Superstock machine, once again coming from behind to reel in Derek Sheils in the latter stages of the seven-lap race before making a race-winning pass.
Heavy rain throughout the day left the riders facing a tyre dilemma, with the roads often drying out quickly in the breeze in between the showers.
Sheils’ decision to fit an intermediate rear Dunlop tyre for the showpiece ‘Race of the South’ Grand Final ultimately paid dividends as he wrapped up an impressive success for Dungannon team Cookstown B.E. Racing on John Burrows’ Suzuki GSX-R1000.
Ballymoney man Dunlop had set the early pace from Sheils, McGee and William Dunlop and initially it appeared as though the 13-time Isle of Man TT winner would cruise to a routine win.
However, Sheils had other ideas and was soon beginning to claw back the deficit to Dunlop, rapidly closing onto the rear wheel of the 27-year-old’s S1000RR.
Sheils clearly had the extra momentum and put a pass on Dunlop to seize the lead, which he successfully held until the finish to pocket the top prize of 3,5000 euros.
Dunlop was joined on the podium by his older brother William, who managed to get the better of McGee to nail down the last position on the rostrum.
Earlier, McGee maintained his excellent form on his Yamaha R6 as he took the spoils in the Supersport 600 race.
The southern Irish rider shot in the lead from Magherafelt’s Paul Jordan with William Dunlop giving chase in third.
Dunlop eventually found a way past Jordan but was unable to bridge the gap to McGee, who had pushed the Ulsterman all the way to the wire in the Supersport race at Skerries. James Kelly finished third, only just holding off Sheils.
It was Dunlop’s first defeat in the class this season at an Irish road race and the first time he has been beaten in an Irish Championship 600cc race since he finished second to Guy Martin at Armoy in 2014.
TT star Dunlop, meanwhile, will be gunning for victory this week at the Southern 100 as he bids to win the prestigious Solo Championship race at the Billown circuit for a third time.
With reigning champion Guy Martin a confirmed non-starter, Dunlop’s chief rival is likely to be Dean Harrison on the Silicone Engineering Kawasaki machines, who bagged a four-timer at the event in 2014.
Manxman Dan Kneen returns from injury for Mar-Train Yamaha, while Ivan Lintin is also among the podium contenders on the Devitt RC Express Kawasaki.