Michael Dunlop Earns Record-Breaking 27th Isle of Man TT Crown

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Michael Dunlop Earns 27th Isle of Man TT CrownLinden Adams Photography - Getty Images

On the top of Mount Snaefell, a King cast in bronze sits astride his Honda throne. It is said that from the peak you can see seven kingdoms—the Isle of Man, England, Scotland, Ireland, Wales, the Sea, and Heaven—but there is an eighth: the Roads. The statue of Joey Dunlop gazes down at the bends before him, impassive but perhaps smiling to see his nephew's achievement. After twenty-four years of his uncle's unbroken record, Michael Dunlop has been crowned the most-winning Isle of Man TT rider of all time. A new King of the Mountain takes up his rule.

At the age of thirty-five, Northern Ireland-born Dunlop has long styled himself as the last of the old-school road racers. He shares his birthplace and his last name with many of the heroes of the sport; the Dunlops have long been a motorcycle road-racing family. There's a devil-may-care tradition that's part of it—at last year's Armoy Race of Legends, Dunlop's home event, he won every event he entered, celebrated with a massive burnout, then handed off his bike to a race marshal and walked into the local pub, emerging soon afterward with a pint to toast the roaring crowd.

the isle of man tt races
Isle of Man TT

His mascot is a charging bull, and it comes with a reputation for not being the softest interview in the paddock. The people of Norn Iron can be hard-headed, and in the face of a dangerous sport that took the life of his father, uncle, and brother, there are those who have seen Michael's continued racing as a stubborn obsession.


That may be. But with his twenty-seventh victory, the heir to the Dunlop dynasty has proved his shoulders broad enough to take up the mantle. It is not just shrugging off risk that has earned him wins, but dedication, athleticism, and perhaps more training than he'll let on. This is a rider who can slide a big-bore motorcycle on country lanes at above 150 mph for the transparent joy of it. He might not be interested in explaining why he races to non-racers, but that doesn't take one iota away from his achievement.

the isle of man tt races
Led by John McGuiness on the #1 bike in 2016, the trailing shadow of Dunlop and his #6 BMW S1000RR would go on to win his first TT and set a new absolute course record, too. Linden Adams Photography - Getty Images

Michael Dunlop's first TT race came in 2007, where he finished twenty-fifth. He won his first TT on a BMW S1000RR in 2016, setting a new absolute course record as he did so. By 2023, he had amassed some twenty-five TT victories and forty podium finishes, continually jousting to set new record lap times of the Snaefell course.

The Isle of Man TT races are held in several classes, and unlike four-wheeled racing, riders will generally compete across various displacements. The modern era ranges from the 600cc/675cc Supersport, to the near-showroom specification Superstock, to the all-out Superbike class with 1000cc engines and well over 200 hp. The big bikes carry the most prestige, but each class provides an opportunity to be counted as a TT victory. Dunlop has racked up his wins across a range of bikes from various manufacturers over the years.

In this year's TT, Dunlop won the opening Supersport event to draw level with his uncle Joey's all-time record of twenty-six wins. Leading the Superbike race handily on Sunday, he was forced to stop when the visor of his helmet broke at the sidepod. The record cracked at last in the Supertwin race, where he won aboard an Italian-made Paton S1-R.

“I'm no better than Joey, never was,” he said after the race on Wednesday. “Joey's record stood for twenty-four years and it's an honor. Joey was a special talent. My record will be beaten one day, but I don't care.”

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Taming the #3 Honda Britain Honda RC45, Joey Dunlop chases Shaun Harris at the 1996 Isle of Man TT. Michael Cooper - Getty Images

Joey Dunlop won his last TT at the age of forty-eight, muscling his Honda through patchy conditions to win the Formula TT big bike class, then clinching two lightweight classes for a triple. His nephew, Michael, is in peak form, and has years more potential to extend his record.

The trophy given to the most successful rider at the end of the Isle of Man TT races is called the Joey Dunlop Cup. It's not hard to see that it will be hoisted this year by the next chapter in Dunlop racing history. Snaefell has a new ruler. Long live Michael Dunlop, King of the Mountain.

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