After a disastrous start to TT race week with non-stop weather delays, Thursday had seen the clouds break long enough to run a massive five TT races, completely catching up on the race program with the most races ever run on a single day in TT history.
The following day weather was forecast to close in and turn downright ugly with expected falls of up to 50mm from Friday afternoon. Thus organisers moved the six-lap Senior TT ahead to an earlier 1000 start time, which was then pushed back a little to 1015 as marshalls helped clean small sections of the course. The sky though was the most welcoming seen across the whole TT fortnight which bode well for the coming Senior TT.
Peter Hickman and Dean Harrison proved a step above the competition last year and the pair carried that form into TT 2019. Hickman though did seem to have an edge on Harrison in the lead-up to the Senior and would enter the race as favourite.
David Johnson proved he is ready to pounce should either of that pair make any mistakes today. The South Australian scored his maiden podium yesterday in the Superstock TT, despite a demonstrably clear horsepower deficit. Today, with the extra 25 horsepower of the Superbike spec’ Fireblade beneath him, that gap should be less evident.
Michael Dunlop of course is always in with a strong chance of a win should he find a little more speed today. He added to his TT win tally late on Thursday evening with victory in the Lightweight TT. The likes of James Hillier and Conor Cummins can also never be discounted. Ian Hutchinson has failed to hit his straps this week but could also mount a last-minute surprise return to form if the planets aligned for the Bingley Bullett
Michael Rutter also showed his speed yesterday with the TT Zero win and new lap record on the Mugen electric bike, I think it is fair to say there is no more experienced road racer on any motorcycle grid in any series, anywhere in the world with as much experience as Rutter. For the Senior TT he is on the bespoke RC213V-S Honda and while many might suggest he is a long shot, I am one that thinks that shot might actually not be all that long…
The other elder statesman of the roads is of course John McGuinness. His return from injury is being made on the V4 Norton, a machine that has proved good enough to lap over 130mph with Josh Brookes at the controls in 2017. On the grid McGuinness remarked he hadn’t quite found his rhythm on the Norton yet, and that they had been chasing a small electrical problem.
Conor Cummins was to head down Glencrutchery Road first with the other riders waved off at ten-second intervals. After Cummins it was Harrison, McGuiness, Hutchinson and Hillier the first five away. They were followed by Dunlop, Gary Johnson, Michael Rutter, David Johnson and Peter Hickman.
They are away!
Dean Harrison was quick out of the blocks and had pulled more than four-seconds back on Conor Cummins by the first split at Glen Helen. Michael Dunlop was also away well along with Michael Rutter while David Johnson was sixth.
At Ballaugh Bridge for the first time there was nothing between Harrison and Hickman for the lead. There was eight-seconds back to Conor Cummins in third place, the Padgetts Honda being quickly caught by Michael Dunlop though while David Johnson had moved past Rutter to take fifth place.
At Bungalow for the first time Peter Hickman had a one-second lead over Harrison while Conor Cummins was managing to stave off the advances of Michael Dunlop to hold on to third place. David Johnson still fifth, seven-seconds behind Dunlop. John McGuinness stopped at Bungalow with some sort of problem.
134.28mph lap from standing start!
At the end of lap one Dean Harrison registered a 133.99mph lap from a standing start as we waited with baited breath for race leader Peter Hickman to cross the stripe… There he goes, 134.28mph lap from a standing start for Hicky. Cummins still third ahead of Dunlop with David Johnson in fifth after a 130.98mph opening lap.
At Ballaugh Bridge for the second time it was still Hickman in front but now with a gap out to two-seconds. Conor Cummins was looking to have the measure of Michael Dunlop, his advantage out to four-seconds now. David Johnson a further 12-seconds back in fifth.
Peter Hickman registered 192mph through the Sulby speed trap and by Ramsey had extended his lead over Harrison out to 3.4-seconds. Cummins a further 20-seconds back, with 5-seconds on Dunlop and 20-second on Johnson.
Hickman extended his lead out to 6.5-seconds by Bungalow, which was then 6.94-seconds by Cronk ny Mona.
In the pits!
Dean Harrison the first rider into the pits while Peter Hickman arrived eight-seconds later after clocking a 134.281mph despite having to slow for the pit entry. Michael Dunlop and Peter Hickman exited pit-lane together on the track but of course there was more than a 30-second gap separating them on the timing monitors, Dunlop appearing to give way to Hickman as they got back up to speed heading down Glencrutchery Road.
Honda Racing men retire
Ian Hutchinson retired after coming into the pits but David Johnson limped to a halt out on the circuit after his Fireblade had started coughing and spluttering earlier in the lap. A terrible blow after the promise Johnson showed yesterday as he raced to a podium finish in the Superstock TT.
At Glen Helen on lap three Hickman’s lead out to ten-seconds over Harrison as Conor Cummins extends his advantage over Michael Dunlop. The demise of David Johnson promoted Michael Rutter up into the top five, but 38-seconds behind fourth placed Dunlop.
On the run to Ballaugh Bridge Harrison clawed back half-a-second on Hickman but Hicky then made that up and more by Ramsey Hairpin to extend his lead back out to 10.494-seconds. Conor Cummins 35-seconds behind the race leader in third place but with 13-seconds over Dunlop.
Hickman pulled another two-seconds over Harrison by Bungalow to extend his lead to 12.198-seconds and by the start-finish line at The Grandstand that lead was 13.486-seconds. Conor Cummins 40.7-seconds behind the leader but with 16-seconds over Dunlop as they commenced lap four.
At Ramsey Hairpin on lap four the gap between Hickman and Harrison was 12.532-seconds after the Kawasaki man put in the faster sector time from Ballaugh Bridge to Ramsey. Conor Cummins 49-seconds behind the race leader but with a now comfortable 18-seconds over Michael Dunlop.
Hickman owns the next sector though, from Ramsey to Bungalow Hicky three-seconds quicker than Harrison to extend his lead out to 15.260-seconds. Hickman has displayed a huge advantage through that sector over Harrison all week and no doubt the Kawasaki man will study the post-race footage on how to narrow that gap at TT 2020.
Second Pit Stop
New rear tyres going in the bikes along with enough fuel to last the final two laps of the TT Mountain Course. When they came into the pits the gap on the timing monitors was 17.683-seconds but Hickman’s team helped him extend that by another 1.6-seconds in the pits.
Through the first split on lap five Hickman’s lead had been dramatically shortened by more than ten-seconds! Unsure if some sort of post pit-stop problem or he got held up somewhere on the circuit or made a mistake, but all of a sudden his lead has been more than halved…
Problems for Hickman…
At Ballaugh Bridge the gap now down to 1.1-seconds… Nothing in it… Hickman had some problems with the BMW Superbike spitting water at high rpm, and those gremlins had surfaced again and looked to possibly rob him the chance of a Senior TT win here today… Because of those problems encountered earlier this week, which had led the team to change engines, radiators, hoses, caps etc. but still yet to cure the problem, Hickman had favoured using the Superstock engine in today’s Senior TT. Scrutineers however had impounded that engine for post-race technical inspections, that choice was taken away from the Smiths Racing BMW squad. Even requests for the engine to be sealed and then inspected after the Senior were rejected by TT officials, thus Smiths BMW were forced to take the gamble on the Superbike…
Harrison into the lead..
Dean Harrison moved into the race lead at Ramsey Hairpin, the advantage to the Kawasaki man a significant 7.877-seconds and seemingly building at every split. Can Hickman keep it going to the flag or will his problems allow Conor Cummins and Michael Dunlop onto the podium…
By Cronk ny Mona Harrison’s lead was 18.157-seconds and by the start-finish line in front of The Grandstand that was 18.386-seconds. Hickman’s pits had been ready to receive him but Hickman instead blasted past them. Conor Cummins a further 33.208-seconds behind in third place but with 25-seconds over Michael Dunlop.
Peter Hickman was down to using only half-throttle and only 11,000 rpm as he tried to reduce the amount of coolant the BMW ejected. That had allowed Dean Harrison to extend his lead out to 31.471-seconds. Hickman was nine-seconds slower than third-placed Conor Cummins on the Grandstand to Glen Helen sector and the gap between the pair was down to 24.355-seconds.
Harrison’s lead out to 40.454-seconds at Ballaugh Bridge and the BMW six-seconds slower than third placed Conor Cummins through that last split, the gap between second and third place men now down to 17.740-seconds.
At Ramsey the gap between Hickman and Cummins was down to 12.842-seconds, at Bungalow it was then down to 8.923-seconds. Harrison’s lead was more than 50-seconds.
Dean Harrison the clear winner ahead of a frustrated but ultimately still great scoring Peter Hickman after he managed to nurse that Smiths BMW home over the final two laps in order to get that second place ahead of Conor Cummins by a slender 5.817-seconds.
Michael Dunlop had a comfortable fourth place and it was Hillier who got the verdict over Todd for fifth, the latter setting a personal best lap of 131.49mph on the sixth lap in just his second year at the TT.
Michael Rutter, Jamie Coward – who recorded his first 130mph lap – Brian McCormack and Dominic Herbertson completed the top ten.
The race results enabled Hickman to regain the Joey Dunlop TT Championship he last won in 2017 with 111 points, 13 ahead of Harrison (98) with Hillier in third (69). Hickman will receive a Bremont watch from the TT’s Official Timing Partner.
After twice previously finishing second, Coward won the TT Privateer’s Championship with the maximum 125 points after being the top privateer in all five of the races. McCormack (61) finished second with Paul Jordan (58) in third.
Kawasaki won the Manufacturer’s Award and Smiths Racing took the Team Prize for the third year in a row.
Dean Harrison’s win in the Senior TT is only the second ever win for a Kawasaki rider in the event. At 30-years-old Harrison is also one of the youngest ever winners of the Senior TT.
The only other Senior TT win for Kawasaki was scored by Mick Grant in 1975 on a Kawasaki 750cc two-stroke triple, onboard which Grant also set a new one-lap TT Mountain Course record of 109.82mph. In 2019 Peter Hickman set the fastest lap of the race at 134.284 mph, the outright Senior TT lap record also belongs to Hickman which he set last year at 135.452 mph.
MCNEWS.COM.AU is a specialist on-line resource that provides motorcycle news for motorcyclists. MCNews covers all areas of interest for the motorcycling public including news, reviews and comprehensive racing coverage.