Top Ten Road Racers Of 2017: Joint Third – Derek Sheils/Michael Dunlop

Top Ten Road Racers Of 2017: Joint Third – Derek Sheils/Michael Dunlop

Finishing joint third in Road Racing News top ten road racers of 2017 are Cookstown 100/Skerries Grand Final race winner Derek Sheils, and 15 times TT champion Michael Dunlop.

Having elected to take on another bold new challenge in the form of piloting Suzuki’s newest incarnation of the GSX-R 1000 for the Hawk Racing run Bennetts Suzuki team, 2017 was another year which showcased the truly unique talents of Ballymoney’s Michael Dunlop.

A battling fourth in the feature Superbike encounter at the North West 200, TT 2017 saw him prove yet again his mastery of the Mountain Course.

A first Supersport TT win in three years was backed up by a truly memorable Pokerstars Senior TT victory, as he provided Suzuki with a first TT success for over a decade.

Back on the Isle of Man in July at the Southern 100, he chalked up a hat trick of big bike race wins, consistently holding off tenacious challenges from Dan Kneen.

Third in the feature race of the week, the Solo Championship, he had the consolation of setting a new outright lap record of 115.707 mph.

Following competition at Billown, he went onto dominate at Armoy, securing three victories including recording a seventh successive Race of Legends crown, before enduring by his standards tough Ulster GP and Classic TT ventures.

Looking back on fellow GSX-R 1000 Suzuki mounted racer Derek Sheils 2017 season, he once again proved the dominant big bike force within the Irish national roads scene.

Winner of in total this year 9 Superbike encounters, at a glance just some of multiple great moments throughout the season for Dublin’s Sheils have included retaining the feature race crowns at Cookstown, plus regaining the Grand Final title at Faugheen.

Additionally Grand Final winner at Skerries and Walderstown, and Open race champion at Tandragee and the newly formed East Coast Racing Festival, he’s shown this year why he is more than worthy of being regarded amongst road racing’s leading exponents of 1000cc machinery.

Arguably though the most impressive feats of 2017 for the Cookstown BE Racing mainstay has been his improved form at the international events.

In particular the MCE Insurance Ulster Grand Prix proved immensely prodigious, with an abundance of positive results banked, which included sixth and fifth place finishes in the Superbike races, plus finishing a fine fourth in an enthralling Super Twins race.

Although TT 2017 proved pretty much his most challenging Mountain Course expedition to date, lapping close to the 129 mph mark during the Pokerstars Senior race, was a reminder to everyone of his growing promise on the world famous Manx roads.

Rising international roads force Sheils and TT lap record holder Dunlop have both in their own right proven lots of people wrong this year.

They have extracted the maximum out of the new GSX-R 1000 Suzuki, won races when perhaps not expected and shown supreme determination in trying at times circumstances.

Words by Stevie Rial

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