Michael Dunlop has the won the opening Monster Energy Supersport TT. The Ballymoney man dominated the opposition, comfortably bringing his MD racing YZF-R6 home 12-seconds ahead of Peter Hickman. Hickman just pipped Dean Harrison at the line on his Trooper Triumph for second after a tense final lap battle between the two. Deano had been in second place all race long right up until the final split and it will be a bitter pill for the Bradford man to swallow, being pushed down the order in such a manner. Dunlop now sits on 22 wins, just one behind John McGuinness on the all-time charts.
The day got off to a slow start due to delays caused by a serious road accident at the 33rd Milestone that occurred just as the Mountain road was closing. Normally delays are caused by bad weather but today the island was bathed in glorious sunshine with wall-to-wall blue skies. The idyllic scene meant perfect conditions for racing and thankfully by lunch-time, we were back in business and the on-track action commenced.
This middle-weight class has traditionally provided tight and hard to predict racing so, when the leaders hit Glen Helen on lap one and Dean Harrison had his nose in front by half-a-second over Dunlop; it appeared that we had a proper contest on our hands…
However, by Ballaugh (the 2nd time-check) Michael had taken two-seconds out of Harrison and from then on, a Dunlop pulled time on the rest of the field to exert his dominance. ‘The Bull’ consistently took time out of the #2 machine, comfortably controlling the pace after building a nice little cushion of just over ten-seconds. At times the gap fluctuated but never reduced significantly and as Harrison went through the Bungalow on lap two, Dunlop was already on the Verandah… he almost had his rival in his sights.
There was great excitement that perhaps the lap record would go on that second lap and indeed, each sector check told us that that was the pace Micky D was on… but the riders have to slow on that second lap to come into refuel and the pace tailed off slightly; in the end it was 129.1 mph when the clocks stopped.
There were slight concerns for the race winner when he lost a few seconds in the mid-race pit stop, but by Glen Helen on lap three the gap to Harrison had steadied and it was at that point Dunlop’s 22nd victory appeared to be a foregone conclusion.
But there was still drama to unfold… there were reports of ducks on the course at Milltown toward the end of the lap and Harrison would report a bird-strike at the end of the race, ‘it’s like a Zoo out there’ he declared.
As the leaders screamed over the line at 180 mph to start their final lap, Hickman was suddenly reported as catching Harrison. ‘Hickman is coming’ cried Chris Boyd over the commentary and the race for second was now the focal point for those trackside.
Hickman posted the fastest Supersport sector time of the week between Glen Helen and Ballaugh; it took him just 3m10s and that brought him within two-seconds of his rival. By the Bungalow the gap was a tenth-of-a-second and it was all about the descent from the mountain.
On the final drop down to Douglas, Harrison was reported as waving at the helicopter- something that may well have cost him, for when Hickman crossed the line he had managed to pull a three-second gap over Harrison and the BPE Russell Yamaha was pushed back to third. You couldn’t help but wonder if he would have challenged the race winner if he had found that kind of pace in the first half of the race.
But it was all about Dunlop who smoothly negotiated the final lap to appreciative applause and came home 11-seconds ahead of Hickman.
Michael Dunlop – P1
“Yeah it was a good race, I backed off a lot on the last two laps… I felt real good, the bike felt good… I’m just happy. It’s good to see that there’s a bit of speed in the old doll yet… the wee bike’s still winning“.
When pressed on the record win totals looming up ahead of him of McGuinness and Joey Dunlop said, “I dunno, I just keep riding my bike and whatever happens, happens. When you’re winning races around here and it’s on bikes you built yourself… it’s a wee bit more extra. The boys have been working hard all week to make this happen and that’s another one“.
Jamie Coward – P4
“I was aiming for a top six finish and if I achieved that I’d have been happy so I’m over the moon with fourth place especially as I haven’t had much time on the 600. The weather’s been great, and I’ve focused more on the big bike as they take that bit longer to get set up but I felt comfortable on the little 600 and had the podium in sight in the first half of the race, especially with a new personal best on the second lap.
“I lost a bit of time at the beginning of the third lap which allowed Peter (Hickman) to pull away and I was struggling for a bit of rear grip on the final lap so eased off a bit in the couple of sectors. I could see the gap to Davey was close though so with my confidence back, I really pushed on over the Mountain, where I felt strong, and set my best lap on a 600cc machine. To finish fourth in a Supersport TT is no mean feat so it’s been a great start to race week.”
David Johnson – P8
“The top eight was my goal before the race so I’m well chuffed to have achieved that. I knew I had some fast boys behind me and when I looked behind at Ballacraine, I could see Dean (Harrison) coming so let him by in the hope of getting a tow. He was going too fast for me but the more the race went on, the better, and quicker, I got and after James Hillier came by me, I sat with him for an entire lap.
“The bike was a missile along the straights, but I was lacking a bit of grunt out of the corners, probably due to my height and weight as I’m built more for the 1000cc bikes. Like I say though, I’ve achieved my goal and it’s a very good start to the week, so I’ll be looking to get inside the top six in the second 600cc race. Before that though, it’s the Superbike race and I’m really looking forward to seeing what we can do.”
Tomorrow we’ll see the SBK TT run on what has traditionally always been ‘Mad Sunday’. That will be the race everyone is waiting for where Dunlop, Hickman and Harrison go head-to-head on the big bikes. With perfect conditions forecast, the outright lap record is expected to officially go and whoever wins the six-lapper will have to ride the course harder than it’s ever been ridden before to get the job done. Today’s taster will have whet the appetite and the enthusiasts will have trouble nodding off to sleep tonight, such will be the anticipation. It’s going to be an absolute belter.
2023 Isle of Man TT Results
Supersport TT Race One
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