Southern 100: Michael Dunlop targets Solo Championship treble

Michael Dunlop will hope to match the feat of his uncle Joey by securing his third successive win in the feature race at the Southern 100 in Castletown.

Joey secured the prestigious title of Solo Champion in 1976, 1977 and 1978 and is the only rider who has achieved that feat in the history of the event.

Michael will ride a Honda in each of the four-stroke classes as he aims to continue his recent run of good form.

The 24-year-old from Ballymoney won five races from five starts last year.

Dunlop will face stiff competition from Tyco Suzuki star Guy Martin, who will hope to reclaim the premier prize of the meeting, which he won in 2009.

Southern 100 Solo Championship recent winners

  • 2012: Michael Dunlop (Honda), 111.335mph
  • 2011: Michael Dunlop (Kawasaki), 111.178mph
  • 2010: Ryan Farquhar (Kawasaki), 108.50mph
  • 2009: Guy Martin (Honda), 110.62mph
  • 2008: Ian Lougher (Yamaha), 101.205mph

Other leading competitors include rising road racing star Dean Harrison, KMR Kawasaki pilot Jamie Hamilton, Manxman Dan Kneen, Lisburn rider Michael Pearson, Davy Morgan from Saintfield, and five-time Solo Championship winner Ian Lougher, who announced his retirement from TT racing in June.

William Dunlop will ride his CD Racing 600cc Yamaha at the event, and is also set to take in the 250cc and 125cc classes over the 4.25-mile circuit.

Ballyclare lad Hamilton will look to add to his victory in the Supertwins class on the Billown circuit in 2013, when he managed to overhaul team boss Ryan Farquhar.

Ramsey man Conor Cummins is still on the lookout for suitable machinery as the Milwaukee Yamaha team have decided not to contest the Southern 100 races.

The 'Lightweight' classes will see a renewal of the rivalry between Chris Palmer, William Dunlop, Lougher, Nigel Moore and Sam Wilson, with newcomer Paul Robinson a notable addition to the grid this year.

Current sidecar champions Ben and Tom Birchall will hope to retain their title to add to their first TT victory last month.

Fellow TT winners Tim Reeves and Dan Sayle, who won the opening Sidecar race at the 2012 Southern 100, will be wanting to prise the Championship race away from their arch rivals.

Former champions Ian and Carl Bell will be aiming to take the coveted title for the fourth time with Conrad Harrison and Mike Aylott looking for their maiden championship victory.

The 14-race programme has attracted 21 Newcomers.

Practicing starts on Monday 8 July, with racing on Tuesday and Wednesday evenings and Thursday afternoon.