By Kyle White Belfast Newsletter
Southern 100 up next for 21-time Isle of Man TT winner.
Michael Dunlop swept to a dominant treble at the Principal Insurance Walderstown Road Races on Sunday with victory in the ‘Race of the South’ Grand Final.
Riding the Hawk Racing Buildbase Suzuki, Dunlop took command at the front from Mike Browne on the Burrows Engineering/RK Suzuki, with Michael Sweeney in hot pursuit on his MJR BMW.
Sweeney nudged ahead of Browne to slot into second place, but the Skerries 100 hat-trick winner had no answer for the Ballymoney man, who eased clear to win the seven-lap showpiece race by 2.287s.
Browne filled the final rostrum spot, 1.7s behind Sweeney, with Wexford’s Graham Kennedy some 15 seconds back in fourth position.
Dunlop was a surprise entry at the event in County Westmeath as he returned to a national road race for the first time since claiming a five-timer and new outright lap record at Armoy last summer.
The 21-time Isle of Man TT winner earlier held off Sweeney to win the Open Superbike race, with the pair separated by only 0.339s at the line.
Browne was a safe third, two seconds down on the leaders, with local man Thomas Maxwell taking a distant fourth on his Kawasaki ZX10-R.
Mullingar’s Derek McGee was set to make his Irish road racing comeback at the Fore Club’s national meeting but was forced out after testing positive for Covid-19 on Saturday.
In the Supersport 600 race, Dunlop fought his way past early leader Browne to hit the front on his MD Racing Yamaha, with Sweeney in close contention.
Dunlop held a narrow advantage over Browne until he gradually began to build a cushion, increasing his lead to half-a-second at the end of the fifth lap and pulling ahead by 1.5s on the penultimate lap.
The 33-year-old closed out his second victory of the day by three seconds over Browne, with Sweeney 0.7s further back in third. Kennedy and Darryl Tweed (Wilson Craig Honda) from Ballymoney completed the top five.
Dunlop will now be aiming to carry his winning momentum into the Southern 100 on the Isle of Man, where practice gets under way on Monday.
Sweeney was in total control in the Supertwin race, which he won by 23.6s on his Kawasaki after starting from the second group. Liam Crotty and Jonathan Watt rounded out the rostrum places.
Newcomer Kevin Keyes impressed on his road racing debut as the Edenderry man won first time out in the Senior Support race, sealing victory by 1.633s from Keelim Ryan with Michael Gahan a close third.
Keyes completed a double with another win in the non-championship Support race by almost five seconds from Marcus Simpson.
Ballymena’s Barry Davidson won the Junior Classic race by seven seconds from John Leigh-Pemberton, while Keelim Ryan got the verdict in the Moto3/SS300/SS400 race on his Faraldo Racing 450.
In the Senior Classic race, Richard Ford was a comfortable winner from Andy Kildea and John Leigh-Pemberton.
Jonathan Watt won the Junior Support Championship race, which was held on Saturday after practice.
A busy summer of Irish national road racing continues with the Faugheen 50 in Carrick-on-Suir from July 16-17.