Michael Dunlop took his 25th TT win during the second Supersport race at TT 2023, moving him one win away from the all-time record. Ahead of the final race of TT2023 Dunlop was only a single victory away from matching the record of his fabled uncle, Joey Dunlop.Michael’s fastest lap en route to second place on Friday was a 134.730 mph circuit.
If not for Peter Hickman then Dunlop would likely have already reached and surpassed Joey’s win tally. After a difficult start to his TT 2023 campaign things have come together for the FHO BMW rider when it really started to matter. While Dunlop won the Superbike TT last Sunday Hickman bounced back for convincing victories in both Superstock TT races, including a new 136.358 mph outright lap record in Friday’s bout. With Friday’s two wins, he also claimed the SuperTwin TT victory in what was a race of attrition, Hickman moved past Ian Lougher and Steve Hislop on the wins board and drew level with Kiwi legend Bruce Anstey.
Whether Hickman would ride the relatively smooth Superstock spec’ M 1000 RR or the fire breathing Superbike had been a busy topic of conjecture and conversation in the lead up to the Senior TT. The easier rear wheel change characteristics of the Superbike with its bespoke swing-arm set-up seems to have been the deciding factor in favour of Hicky and the team opting for the Superbike. Thus the morning warm-up lap was crucially important for Hickman. It looked as though Michael Dunlop would start today much more comfortable than his arch nemesis. Dunlop has looked happy on his Superbike from day one and set a 135.531 mph lap on it during practice. Conversely Hicky has been far from happy with the set up of his Superbike, however the FHO BMW squad looked to have made somewhat of a breakthrough with the bike for today.
Peter Hickman on the grid
“The Superbike has been a pig all week, a fast pig, but still a pig. But this morning it felt much more like a normal bike, the team has been working really hard to figure out what it was doing and why, and I think they have cracked it. In that warm up this morning, even by the time I got to Bray Hill, it felt much more like a proper motorcycle.”
This year Dean Harrison has not been able to run with Dunlop and Hickman and has been the perennial bridesmaid. The DAO Kawasaki looks great on the road and Harrison is smooth but then if you have a significant power and top speed deficit I guess the bike and rider isn’t working quite as hard to stay smooth.Harrison’s quickest lap yesterday 132.400 mph. The DAO Kawasaki was 12 mph slower through the Sulby speed trap than Michael Dunlop’s Honda.
Conor Cummins started TT 2023 in hospital.The Manxman coming down with some sort of virus that saw him put on a drip and ruled out from competing until Tuesday. He has soldiered on and by Friday was feeling a bit more human and managed a strong fourth place finish and fastest lap of 132.376 mph in the Superstock TT. Conor is far from full fitness but is perhaps back to 80 per cent or so.
While Conor was sick early on in the TT fortnight, illness has struck down potential podium challenger Davey Todd at the worst time possible. Todd was only cleared to race minutes before the start of Friday’s Superstock TT but ultimately didn’t have it in him to make the finish. He is feeling a little better today but still far from right, and with six laps ahead some of his crew were not confident he would make the finish. TT 2023 would be a case of promise unfulfilled for Davey and his team.
A strong last lap on Friday saw Josh Brookes beat Jamie Coward to fifth, the FHO BMW rider setting a new personal best around the 61 kilometre circuit at 131.759 mph. Coward was also quick yesterday, a 131.392 lap. To put those laps into perspective, Brookesy’s lap was 34-seconds slower than team-mate Hickman. In his own words, “those boys are on another level around here”. Josh Brookes has been using the Superstock bike across both the Superstock and Superbike categories and will be on the Superstock bike again in this Senior TT.
James Hillier took seventh place on Friday in Superstock after losing a little time in the middle of the race.While Hillier was over 130 mph again during that Superstock TT, John McGuinness and Dominic Herbertson didn’t have the pace they displayed earlier in the week. McPint suffering with a little clutch slip on the final lap that cost him some time while adjusting it back up on the fly.
David Johnson’s race yesterday lasted less than half a lap, a rear brake lock-on at Ballacraine saw him retire from the race. Davo will be first away again today and hoping to get back above the 130 mph mark.
Rennie Scaysbrook successfully finished the Superstock TT on Friday but as he got faster as the race wore on then the set-up of the bike started to be a problem. What had worked at a slower pace was tying itself in knots as the pace picked up, his final lap of the Superstock TT was a 120.733 mph. They have put the bike much more on its nose for today in the search for more speed.Rennie will test the changes in the warm-up lap, a lap he was hoping not to have to do as his neck is killing him from the strains of this week, and Rennie has only a handful of full laps under his belt compared to many of the others. Some of the top boys have already put in 35 laps which equates to more than 2000 kilometres around the course. Brutal. Today’s six-lap contest will add another 364 kilometres to that tally.
One thing is for sure, the Isle of Man really turned on the weather for us here today.The sky was clear right from the early dawn with the sun warming things up and a good breeze ensuring any overnight dew would be quickly burned off the mountain.
Crowds had started to secure their own bit of real estate on the road sides before 0700 this morning, more than five hours before the race start.
The Manx national anthem was sung on the grid just after midday as the pressure and trepidation really started to mount for the competitors and their teams as they readied for their pat on the shoulder that would be their signal to fire their motorcycles down Glencrutchery Road for the first of six times this afternoon.
David Johnson was the first to be sent down towards Bray Hill, followed by Dean Harrison, John McGuinness and Jamie Coward. The start order set by TT organisers well out from the event and not based on qualifying times or any other factors that have presented themselves during the TT fortnight.
Mike Browne could not get his machine to fire off the start line and just when it looked as though he was going to be pushed away the BMW finally did burst Ito life and Browne was away.
Michael Dunlop’s opening lap was not looking fruitful as by Glen Helen the Northern Irishman was three-seconds behind Dean Harrison. The Kawasaki man getting away very well and also half-a-second up on Peter Hickman at that four-minute mark of the opening lap. James Hillier was fourth, at this early juncture, Conor Cummins fifth, Davey Todd sixth.
Peter Hickman had the lead by Ballaugh Bridge though, recovering four-seconds on Dean Harrison to lead by 3.5-seconds. Michael Dunlop a further 1.7-seconds behind in third but already with six-seconds on Cummins. Michael Dunlop firing the Fireblade through Sulby speed trap on the opening lap at 197.434 mph. Peter Hickman was 10 mph slower at that point after passing Davey Todd on the road.
Up across the Mountain Mile and Bungalow for the first time saw Hickman extend his lead over Harrison to six-seconds. The Kawasaki man was still holding Michael Dunlop at bay. Peter Hickman caught his FHO BMW team-mate Josh Brookes as they headed towards Kate’s cottage and fired past him on the way down to Creg ny Baa, giving the Aussie a benchmark to chase in order to try and challenge James Hillier for fifth place.
A 135.349 mph lap from a standing start for Hickman. 134.529 for Harrison and 133.999 for Dunlop. Hickman leading Harrison at the end of lap one by just over six-seconds while the Kawasaki man had four-seconds on Dunlop.
Dominic Herberston, Sam West and Mike Browne both out of the race. As was Jamie Coward who retired after losing his fuel cap and getting doused with fuel, something he was alerted to by spectators which saw him pull off just after Ballaugh Bridge.
Michael Dunlop caught David Johnson on the road before Ramsey. Nothing to slow Peter Hickman up towards Sulby this time around, the FHO BMW recording 199.111 mph through the speed trap. By Ramsey Hickman led Harrison by 8.7-seconds, with Dunlop a further 6.9-seconds behind, but with more than 25-seconds over Conor Cummins. Josh Brookes had passed James Hillier and had a three-second buffer just over halfway through lap two. David Johnson was running eighth at this juncture.
Hickman had 10.6-seconds over Harrison by Bungalow as he let the BMW stretch its legs across the Mountain Mile before they headed down through Cronk ny Mona and into the pits for their first stop.
Hicky recorded a 135.507 on that second lap as he pulled into the pits. At this point Hickman led Harrison by 11.8-seconds, who in-turn had 7.4-seconds on Dunlop. Conor Cummins was still fourth with a 12.5-second buffer over Josh Brookes, who in-turn now had nine-seconds on Hillier. David Johnson was ahead of John McGuinness and running seventh. Dunlop had his team tweak the fork settings in the pit stop. Dean Harrison had a great pit stop with the DAO Kawasaki boys working quickly to gain him a few seconds over Hickman.
Rennie Scaysbrook and Mark Barrett joined the riders on the sidelines after retiring.
Next time around (lap 3) at the Bungalow Hickman had only managed to stretch his lead over Harrison back out to just under ten-seconds, while the DAO Kawasaki man now had a handy 14.3-seconds over Dunlop. Conor Cummins was still fourth with a handy buffer over Josh Brookes. John McGuinness was now back ahead of David Johnson and up to sixth place after James Hillier made a mistake that cost him quite a bit of time.
As they stopped for their second pit stop at the end of lap four Hickman had a 12.4-second lead over Harrison and that pair had continued to stretch away from Michael Dunlop. Conor Cummins fourth, Josh Brookes fifth, John McGuinness sixth. James Hillier had got back ahead of David Johnson and was in seventh. An ill Davey Todd was battling through in ninth while Michael Rutter rounded out the top ten with two laps to run.
Dean Harrison was again quicker on the run to Glen Helen to claw back a couple of seconds on Hickman early on the penultimate lap. Peter Hickman caught Michael Dunlop on the road on the run to Ballaugh after starting the race 40-seconds behind the Northern Irishman. Hickman followed him over the bridge and spent plenty of time looking for a safe way to pass the Honda, eventually making his move and pulling away but waiting to pass Dunlop had slowed the FHO BMW rider up somewhat.
Michael Rutter and Brian McCormack joined the retirement list.
As they started the final lap though Hickman had 16-seconds on Harrison. By Glen Helen that had grown to 18.4-seconds. Michael Dunlop was a further 25-seconds behind, but over a minute ahead of fourth placed Conor Cummins.
Hickman led by 21.6-seconds at Ballaugh. Michael Dunlop was clawing back some ground on Dean Harrison but had 20-seconds to gain on the Kawasaki rider before he could challenge for that second place but he was the fastest man on track at this point. Conor Cummins was still fourth and Josh Brookes fifth. James Hillier had recovered from his early mistake to pass John McGuinness and move back up to sixth.
Peter Hickman and FHO BMW do it, victory over Dean Harrison by 20-seconds.
Peter Hickman – P1
“She has been a bit of a pig all week, two weeks really. She has been taking me a ride, rather than me riding her all week. Yesterday it still wasn’t right but the team worked really hard and today the bike was much better. The bike was pretty much faultless, still had a bit of a shifter problem but worked around it. What an unbelievable race and thank you to everyone and the final thoughts are to Raul and his family, who won’t be going home from here and my thoughts go out to them.”
Michael Dunlop put in his fastest lap of the race on the final lap, a 135.259 mph on the Honda but that was still only good enough for third place, 20-seconds behind Harrison.
Dean Harrison – P2
“I honestly can’t complain about that, of course we come here to try and win but obviously everybody else is trying to do the same thing. I have to say full credit to the team. The bikes haven’t missed a beat all week, we’ve had four races together and four podiums and we’ve had a great fortnight. The plan was to go at the start, get the head down and be there or thereabouts at the end. I got into a good rhythm and I didn’t want to let anyone go but on the day I think second was the best we could’ve had. It’s been a good TT for me and the team, I’ve ridden so many laps, the weather has been brilliant and we’ve had plenty of podiums. I think I’m ready for a rest now!”
Conor Cummins a strong fourth despite missing practice week and the early races while he was on a drip in hospital. Would he have had the speed to run with that top three this year if fully fit and the bike fettled after plenty of practice? Maybe not, but the local rider would have certainly ran them close.
Josh Brookes fifth after recording his best lap of the course at 132.529 mph on the sixth and final lap.
James Hillier battling back to sixth and a 132.703 mph lap on the final lap.
John McGuinness demonstrated his improved fitness this year with a 131.183 mph lap on the final run around to secure seventh place ahead of David Johnson. The South Australian collecting another top ten finish after putting in three laps over 130 mph.
“From the drop of the flag it was ‘make no mistakes, hit every apex and enjoy every minute of it.’ It’s not many times you can do six laps around here, so you have to talk to yourself, keep concentrating and remember to breathe! It’s a long tough race this. My leathers are hanging off me now! I reckon I’ve lost five kilos this week. My neck is sore, but everyone will be sore, if they say they’re not they are lying. The atmosphere out there was incredible and I’ve done a lot of TT’s, that’s my 108th TT start. The result is seventh in a cracking good field made up of BSB riders at the top of their game. I just enjoyed it, the boys did a mint job in the pits, I messed up not having it in neutral but the boys didn’t panic and they sorted that out! My highlight is seeing the team happy, seeing everyone out there having a good time. For me, that means a lot. I get to do the fun bit and they have to do the stress bit, preparing the bikes. The whole thing has been fantastic, right back from testing in Spain, all the riding and racing in Superstock, visiting bike dealers and doing the shows, I’ve loved every minute of it and I wish I could do it all again tomorrow. After this event, it’s such a big hole to fill.”
“I’m happy enough with eighth place in the Senior today and had it not been for running straight on at Signpost, it could have been even better! It took me a while to get going after that so it was a shame to miss out on seventh, but the bike was faultless. We just ran out of time to get the Superbike set up but we know what’s needed in the future and, like I say, the Superstock bike ran perfectly. It’s been a bit of a learning curve for me and the team, especially myself after missing last year, but everyone’s worked really hard, and the effort has been superb. We’ve finished five of the six races we started and four of those have been inside the top ten so we can’t complain. I’ve banged in some 130mph laps again and it’s just a shame we have to wait another year before we can do it all again!”
A huge effort from a very sick Davey Todd to stay on the bike and bring home ninth ahead of Rob Hodson.
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