2023 has been a big Isle of Man TT for Northern Irish road racer Michael Dunlop, and there are still two days left in Race Week at the time of writing on June 8, 2023. Why is it such a big deal, though? There’s a reason that the phrase “inside baseball” exists, and I’ve found that it’s easily applicable to most sports. Assumed knowledge of certain key details about any sport can lead to the overwhelming impression that [Major Event] is important, and yet not give adequate context as to why it matters. Let’s demystify the Isle of Man TT for newbies here and now. 

For those who are vaguely aware that the TT exists and that it’s important in the scheme of international motorcycle road racing, one thing to get your head around is the fact that the TT isn’t only one race. In fact, it’s not even just a series of single races in each of several categories.

For 2023, the Superbike, Superstock, Supertwin, and Sidecar categories all have two races each over the course of the week. Those all lead up to the headlining event of every TT, which is known as the Senior TT. When your race course is 37.73 miles long, every lap counts. While most race categories are three laps long, the Superbike and Senior TT races are six laps long. 

Here are the technical requirements for race bikes competing in each of the Isle of Man TT classes in 2023.  

TT Superbike 

Displacement Requirements  Cylinders/Stroke
Over 750cc up to 1,000cc  4 cylinders/4 stroke 
Over 750cc up to 1,000cc  3 cylinders/4 stroke 
Over 850cc up to 1,200cc  2 cylinder/4 stroke 

Sidecar TT

Displacement Requirements  Cylinders/Stroke
501 to 600cc  4 cylinders/4 stroke, production-based
675cc by Triumph and MV Agusta 3 cylinders/4 stroke

TT Superstock

Displacement Requirements  Cylinders/Stroke
Over 600cc up to 1,000cc  4 cylinders/4 stroke 
Over 750cc up to 1,000cc  3 cylinders/4 stroke 
Over 850cc up to 1,200cc 2 cylinders/4 stroke 

Supersport TT

Displacement Requirements  Cylinders/Stroke
Over 400cc up to 600cc  4 cylinders/4 stroke 
Over 600cc up to 675cc  3 cylinders/4 stroke 
Over 600cc up to 750cc  2 cylinders/4 stroke

Senior TT

Displacement Requirements  Cylinders/Stroke
Over 750cc up to 1,000cc 4 cylinders/4 stroke 
Over 750cc up to 1,000cc  3 cylinders/4 stroke 
Over 850cc up to 1,200cc  2 cylinder/4 stroke 

One Crucial Thing to Understand About IOMTT Racers 

If you’re familiar with international circuit racing series like MotoGP and World Superbike, then you may already be familiar with the flows of a talented racer’s career. After proving their mettle in one of the given sport’s feeder series, they might move up to Moto3, then maybe Moto2, and if they’re truly exceptional, MotoGP, just as an example.  

While a single racer may race in multiple series over the course of their career—each of which utilizes different machinery and may have different learning curves—what you don’t see is a racer hopping on a Moto3 bike, a Moto2 bike, and a MotoGP bike all in the same racing weekend.  

That’s not how the IOMTT functions. Racers can submit themselves to race in as many races over the course of the event as they want, if a) the racers have the correct licensing and qualifications, and b) they also have the correct racing machinery that qualifies for each class they want to race in. 

Back To Michael Dunlop’s Historic 2023 Isle of Man TT

Now that you have a better idea of how racing works at the Isle of Man TT, you can understand that Michael Dunlop is scheduled to race in a total of eight (8) 2023 IOMTT races. At the time of writing on June 8, 2023, he’s already made history in a few different ways. On Sunday, June 4, 2023, Dunlop officially tied with John McGuinness MBE for the second-most TT race wins of all time, with each racer having notched up 23 total TT race wins on their respective belts. 

Second to whom, those unfamiliar with Northern Irish road racing may ask? That would be second to all-time great Joey Dunlop—who won a total of 26 TT races over the course of his career. He was also Michael’s uncle—because indeed, road racing is in the Dunlop family’s blood. 

On Tuesday, June 6, 2023, Michael Dunlop set another record when he won the 2023 Supertwin Race 1, after leading the race from start to finish. That put him at 24 total TT race wins, moving him up to stand in second place behind his uncle. As of that date, John McGuinness, MBE now stands in third place on the roster of most TT wins of all time. 

On Wednesday, June 7, 2023, Michael Dunlop proved that he just can’t stop winning when he took a stunning victory in the 2023 Supersport Race 2. That brings his total up to 25 TT racing wins, and puts him just one race behind his uncle, Joey Dunlop, whose memory has loomed large over the sport for decades. Not for nothing, but Michael Dunlop also set the record for the first-ever 130 mile per hour lap in the Supersport class during this race, because winning is good, but doing it with style is even better. 

It’s Thursday, June 8, 2023, as we write this—and it’s now the calm before the storm of the final two racing days of the 2023 IOMTT. Race Day Five will take place on Friday, June 9, with two races scheduled: the Superstock TT Race 2 and the Supertwin TT Race 2. Dunlop is racing in both classes, so it seems highly likely that we haven’t seen the last of his record-breaking ways for this TT.

The 2023 Isle of Man TT will conclude with Race Day Six on Saturday, June 10, 2023. A 100 Years of Sidecars celebration is scheduled to take place, followed by the Senior TT just after noon. Dunlop isn’t a sidecar racer, but you can bet that he’s looking forward to the Senior TT—that is, after he completes the two other TT races in between now and then. 

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