The Ballymoney rider had joined Mountain master McGuinness in the official Honda TT Legends team to ride the 1000cc Fireblade and Dunlop grabbed his big chance with both hands.
Unbeaten on a Superbike in any race he had finished at the TT since 2003, McGuinness lined up as the favourite.
As part of a Honda tribute to mark the 30th anniversary of Ulster road racing legend Joey Dunlop’s first TT win with Honda, McGuinness’s machine was painted in the same red and black livery of Dunlop’s Formula One-winning SP1 from 2000. The 41-year-old Morecambe rider also wore a set of matching leathers and a version of Joey’s famous yellow helmet during the race.
However, it was ‘Yer Maun’s’ nephew who paid him the most poignant tribute as Michael seized control of then race with two opening laps of 130.842mph and 131.194mph.
He produced the ride of his life to achieve a dream victory in the blue riband class, winning by almost 41 seconds from Australia’s Cameron Donald on the Wilson Craig’s Honda.
McGuinness rallied to salvage a podium and the 19-time TT winner also had the consolation of setting a new lap record of 131.671mph on his final lap, overhauling Tyco Suzuki’s Guy Martin to earn the final place on the rostrum.
On a special day for the Dunlop dynasty, 24-year-old Michael toasted his fourth victory at the TT and his first for Honda. It was also the first Dunlop victory in the Superbike class since Joey’s famous Formula One success in 2000.
Clearly emotional afterwards, Dunlop said: “The bike worked really well. It’s fantastic and I can’t thank enough people. It hasn’t sunk in yet and it’s unreal. I’ve always wanted a Superbike win. I love the bike and I can’t say enough about the lads.
“I took it easy on the final laps. Honda put a great bike together and it shows how good the bike is when you have three Hondas on the podium,” he added.
“People do not understand what it means to me to win a Superbike race here.”
Dunlop, who started at number six, said he was moved as he caught McGuinness – who was carrying the number three plate – on the road, before overtaking the English star at Ramsey hairpin on the fourth lap.
“It was sort of sad riding around out there because I never got a chance to ride with Joey and I don’t mean this in a disrespectful way to John, but when I was catching him it was as if I was catching Joey,” he said.
“It was something special to me because it was like watching Joey, as John was smooth and hitting his apexes. It would have been a fairy-tale if I had been wearing something for Joey but I was riding a Honda and that’s what Joey rode.
“This is the icing on the cake because this is the only race I have never won here and Honda gave me the chance to win it. I put my head down on the first lap and said ‘I’m going to have it’.”
McGuinness picked up a 60-second time penalty for speeding in pit lane during the second round of pit-stops but at that point Dunlop was 27 seconds in front.
He fought back to finish on the rostrum, clawing back ground on the final two laps and smashing his own 2009 lap record to overhaul Martin for third.
Conor Cummins on the Milwaukee Yamaha and Michael Rutter on a third Honda Legends machine completed the top six.
Dunlop went on to chalk up three more wins with a brace of victories in the Supersport races and record-breaking win in the Superstock race on his MD Racing Honda machines.
He was on course to equal Ian Hutchinson’s 2010 five-timer going into the Senior TT, but a fired-up McGuinness pulled out all the stops as he clinched his 20th victory by over 10 seconds, with Dunlop forced to settle for the runner-up spot.
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