Michael Dunlop admits people in the racing world “haven’t come near me” as they “doubted” his ability to win Isle of Man TT Superbike races prior to Sunday’s contest.

Dunlop stormed to his second victory of the 2023 TT in Sunday’s six-lap Superbike race aboard his Hawk Racing Honda, marking his first victory in the class since 2018.

The Ulsterman is now joint-second on the all-time TT winners list with John McGuinness on 23, and is just three away from the all-time record of 26 belonging to his late uncle Joey Dunlop.

Though Dunlop eased off on the final lap and was only 8.2 seconds clear of Peter Hickman at the chequered flag, he led every sector of the race and at one stage had an advantage of 20s.

This Superbike win comes a year on from his plans to race a Ducati with Paul Bird Motorsport falling through at the eleventh hour, forcing him onto an ageing Suzuki for the 2022 Superbike races at the TT with Hawk Racing.

Hawk Racing put together a proper programme for Dunlop in the Superbike class for 2023 on a Honda, who was pleased to prove his critics wrong.

“Well, listen I’ve always never really worried about the overall, but John’s been a fantastic ambassador for motorcycling in general and to be on the same as him is fantastic,” Dunlop told TT’s live television feed when asked about his 23rd win.

“To race with John at the height of it, now racing with Pete and Dean [Harrison], it never gets any easier.

“But, I’m just delighted for the boys, just a private team. The last couple of years people sort of doubted me and my big bike skills and haven’t come near me.

“Steve and Stuart and me old sponsors have stuck by me and I’m just delighted.”

Michael Dunlop at Isle of Man TT 2023

Commenting on the Superbike race, Dunlop added: “Yeah, it was a good race. Last lap there I just rolled off heavily, there was a couple of yellow flags and rolled off.

“I saw the gap coming down but I just managed it. I can’t say enough of Steve, Stuart [Hicken] who believed in me.

“People thought I couldn’t ride a big bike anymore, so just thanks to Stuart and Steve for giving me a fantastic package.

“The bike never missed a beat. It was tough, to beat Pete and Dean round here isn’t easy. But I’m delighted. The big bike’s good, I feel good, happy.”

Dunlop set an unofficial lap record of 135.531 mph in practice on his Hawk Racing Honda, but came up just shy of the 135.452 mph official record with a best of 135.046 mph in Sunday’s race.

Picture credit @ttracesofficial/Pacemaker Press