Triple Threat


The Manx flag features three armoured legs, a so-called triskelion which, among other things, represents movement. And no one moves faster around the Isle of Man than the TT’s three biggest stars of the moment: Michael Dunlop, Peter Hickman and Dean Harrison.

This trio is the equivalent of the three American MotoGP stars – Kevin Schwantz, Wayne Rainey and Eddie Lawson – who dazzled 500cc grand prix racing three and a bit decades ago.

Statistics reveal the astonishing domination of the TT by Dunlop, Hickman and Harrison since 2017. During that time, the trio has won 26 of 27 solo TT races (excluding TT Zero events) and monopolised the podium in nearly half those races, while either Dunlop or Hickman have stood on the podium after every solo race since 2016!

These three have also won every Senior TT since 2016, with Hickman taking three victories during this period, Dunlop two and Harrison one.

And they are the only three riders to have lapped the 37.73-mile Mountain course at over 134mph and in under 17 minutes. Next fastest is local Conor Cummins, at 133.116mph.

All three were born into racing families that have enjoyed success on the Isle of Man: Dunlop’s dad Robert won five TTs, Hickman’s father Dave won a Manx GP and Harrison’s dad Conrad won a sidecar TT in 2014, the same year Dean took his first TT victory!

No doubt about it, the world’s greatest and most historic racing event is enjoying a special moment: a battle between three heroes at the top of their game.

‘We just need to keep pushing on and see what comes’ - Michael Dunlop

Michael Dunlop
2023 TT results

1st Superbike

1st Supersport 1 and 2

1st Supertwin 2

TT Victories


This is a very big year for Michael Dunlop. The 35-year-old stands on the brink of history, because two more TT victories will take him past uncle Joey and make him the most successful TT rider since the event was born in 1907.

Of course, this won’t be easy, because Dunlop will have to go through Hickman and Harrison to achieve that record. Surely this means a lot of pressure? Well, it would for any normal human being…

“At the end of the day this year is no different from any other year,” Dunlop deadpans. “We just need to keep pushing on and see what comes.”

In fact he’s right. The worst thing anyone can do at the TT is put themselves under more pressure. The challenges of the Mountain circuit are more than enough on their own – you just need to find your mojo and let it flow.

And Dunlop is getting better at letting it flow. His earlier TT successes were won through an all-action, bull-in-a-china shop riding style – hence the bull on his merchandise – while more recently he looks smoother on the bike, although he’s not so sure.

“It’s not something I’ve ever thought about or looked into,” he deadpans again. “Maybe people spend a lot of time studying things, but when you’re in the mix it’s not something you really look into, if I’m honest with you.”

Peter Hickman, Dunlop’s greatest rival at the past few TTs, begs to disagree.

“I think over last few years he’s got a lot smoother,” says Hicky. “And smoothness brings speed – it’s alright looking fast, but you need to be fast.

Dunlop’s sweeter style is certainly paying dividends. In 2013 and 2014 he was undeniably the TT’s main man, taking eight victories from ten starts. During the next five years he took eight wins from 28 starts – no disgrace! – but those were his doldrum years, because at the last two TTs he’s been back to his best, taking six wins.

Dunlop comes from roadracing’s most famous clan and has always been his own man, doing things his own way, taking very little interest in what goes on outside his own world of total dedication to the cause. While most of the TT’s top riders set up home in the paddock alongside Glencrutchery Road, creating their own little community, Dunlop prefers to stay elsewhere, away from hubbub, with his own people.

“I just don’t have many dealings with a lot of people,” he says. “I just get to it, everyone’s got their own way. I’m a bit Marmite – like or not like. That’s just the way it is really.

Dunlop has seen a lot of changes since he made his Isle of Man debut at the 2006 Manx Grand Prix, riding Honda 125cc and 250cc two-strokes.

The TT has grown massively since then, with the top riders now global stars, thanks to the TT+ streaming platform that reaches nearly a quarter of a million fans across 180 countries. Also, the two-stroke GP bikes he raced in his Manx debut have been entirely replaced by street-based four-strokes. And there’s a new breed of TT rider, coming over from the British Superbike championship.

“Roadracing is a wee bit changed now because you’ve got BSB-type people that are floating across to reinvent themselves,” he says, without mentioning any names. “I don’t know if there’s any original natural roadracers left – back in the day it was just roadracers.”

That’s Dunlop, always telling it like it is, without worrying too much about who will love him or hate him for it.

Whatever the controversy, whatever the hype, there’s only one thing on MD’s mind this year: and it’s not even beating Hickman and Harrison, it’s just winning more TTs. If the victory record comes, it comes.

‘That’s the TT – every day is a school day’ - Peter Hickman

Peter Hickman
2023 TT results

1st Senior

1st Superstock 1 and 2

1st Supertwin 2

TT Victories


Peter Hickman is the TT’s most successful rider of recent years, scoring 12 victories at the last four TTs and holding the current Mountain course lap record at 136.358 mph. This would be a mind-boggling speed on any motorcycle, but he achieved it on a near showroom-spec Superstock bike!

So how come the BSB race winner went faster at the TT aboard a Superstocker than a Superbike, pimped up with around £60,000 of engine and chassis upgrades?

“Because I wanted to!” laughs the 37-year-old, the senior member of the TT’s fastest trio. “If I’d wanted to go faster on the superbike in the Senior, I would’ve gone faster, but there was no reason to go that fast because I’d got a ten or fifteen second lead.

“When I broke the record in the second Superstock race I was pretty much having a bit of fun – I got a really clear lap and was just in my own little zone, in my groove. I thought I’d have a little play and see how we ended up. It was nice to show what I could do if I really wanted to.”

Those words make your jaw drop and suggest that Dunlop won’t have an easy ride to making history this year.

But Hickman is quick to underline the fact that there’s no bitter rivalry between him, Dunlop and Harrison. Rivalry, yes. Bitterness, no.

“Michael is always the odd one out, a little bit, but we all get on. I get on with all riders – it doesn’t matter if they’re big rivals, like Michael or Dean, or not. You find that on the roads – most of the riders get on. If anything, there’s more animosity between mine and Michael’s fans than there is between us!

Michael actually helped me loads in my first year on the roads [2014]. I was absolutely on my arse – I was begging, borrowing and stealing, basically. He gave me new brake pads at the Northwest 200, the TT and the Ulster GP. He helped out when he didn’t have to. For me, that shows the measure of him more than anything else.

Hickman has the same machinery line-up as 2023: a BMW S100RR Superbike and Superstocker, a Triumph 765 Supersport and a Yamaha R7 Supertwin. Last year those bikes took him to Senior victory, two Superstock successes and a Supertwin victory.

In theory he should be able to build on those successes, but nothing is certain around the Mountain course.

“Last year the Superbike was an absolute pain for the whole two weeks. We couldn’t get the thing to handle until the warm-up for the Senior. It was shaking its head everywhere, so then I had no brakes [because the headshakes knocked the brake pads back from the brake discs]. And in the Superbike race the quick-shifter packed up and I had no blipper [for clutch-less downshifts] for the entire race.

“We weren’t expecting that, because nothing had really changed on the bike from the year before, when it was fine. Then suddenly there was a massive problem.

“That’s the TT – every day is a school day. There’s always something new, something different, something to learn. Fingers crossed everything will be fine this year, but you never really know until you go out.”

‘The Superbike has got a bit of a headlock over you’ - Dean Harrison

Dean Harrison
2023 TT results

2nd Senior

3rd Superbike

3rd Superstock 1 and 2

3rd Supersport 1 and 2

TT Victories


Dean Harrison spent most of the 2023 TT chasing Michael Dunlop and Peter Hickman, taking five third-place finishes behind the pair.

He hopes this year will be different, because for the first time in his life he’s a factory rider, racing for Honda UK, which means he has the trickest Fireblades and the latest CBR600RR for the Senior, Superbike, Superstock and Supersport TTs.

Riding for a factory team brings all kinds of benefits – from the best equipment to the best staff – but there’s one thing in particular that Harrison is looking forward to during this year’s TT fortnight.

“What I’m hoping for is top speed,” says the 35-year-old. “Around the Isle of Man you’ve got so many straights that to give away any peak speed is a big deficit.

“The strongest point of the Fireblade is definitely the engine. Last year, Peter and Michael were going through the speed trap [on Sulby Straight] eight to twelve miles an hour faster than I was, so I’m hoping some more speed will give me a little bit of what I need to get closer to the front. Top speed helps the lap time and it’s free time to the rider.”

Dunlop’s 2023 Superbike TT victory on a Fireblade shows that the bike works well around the Mountain course, so this year Harrison has every chance of really taking the fight to the 25-times and 13-times winners.

Harrison also hopes that a change of team and scene will boost his TT performances.

“I’d been at DAO Racing Kawasaki since 2016 and sometimes you need a bit of a kick up the arse – new people, new bike, new challenge, something fresh. And when I retire if I have to look back and think I’d been offered a factory ride and not taken it, I’d be kicking myself.

“All the team is good, which makes you think they’re going to give me the best that’s available, which is a big positive in my mind.

Harrison is contesting the BSB 2024 with Honda UK, so he arrives at the Isle of Man with a lot of short-circuit racing miles behind him, just like Hickman.

“BSB helps – it gets you on the ball,” he adds.

Is there anything else Harrison needs to improve to battle regularly with Dunlop and Harrison, who are both well ahead of him in the TT winners league?

“The whole lap-time!” he grins. “I don’t think there’s one special area where I need to improve. It’s just a little bit of time everywhere.

“I’m just focusing on myself and how to make myself better, because you never know what to expect on the Isle of Man. I do my own thing and get along with everybody – I’ve got no problems with any of the riders.

Harrison’s three TT victories have been achieved across all the classes – one Senior, one Supersport and one Supertwin – which shows that he performs the same, whatever motorcycle he’s riding.

“Consistency is what you need at the TT, plus a bit of mechanical sympathy. I like all the classes in their own way. The superbike is mind-boggling because it’s so fast, whereas in Supersport it’s the fun factor. You’re in control of a Supersport bike, whereas the big bike has got a bit of a headlock over you!”


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