2023 Isle of Man TT Results
SuperTwin TT Race One – Three Laps
With Ben McCook
Michael Dunlop has won a late Tuesday evening Supertwins race to make history at the TT. The Ballymoney man’s 24th victory puts him clear of John McGuinness and it now reads ‘Dunlop and Dunlop’ at the top of the all-time charts.
Uncle Joey is just two wins beyond the 34-year-old, with four more solo races to go this week. It was a masterful performance on the 650 Paton tonight, so much so that it wouldn’t be a stretch to say that the rest never stood a chance. Dunlop already had a 9s lead at Glen Helen on lap 1.
The real contest was the race for second. Jamie Coward and Mike Browne split hairs all the way and the gap between them never stretched out to more than a couple of seconds; in the end it was the inexperienced Browne who sealed the deal.
The Irish dairy farmer negotiated the mountain on the final lap in style to get the job done by 2.2s at the flag. Coward lamented the sheer power of the Patons and described his Kawasaki as a commuter bike, but no one could take anything away from Browne who surely has a big future ahead of him on the island.
There were noticeably longer waits to get accurate information on the race order during Coward and Browne’s tussle, due in part to the fact that the little Twins are slower than anything we have seen all week. But the main hold up was that the #2 of Coward started two minutes exactly ahead of #16 Browne and that meant an unusually long pause to get the full picture.
The only moment Dunlop had during the race was when he took the lead on the road from Coward. MD had caught the Kawasaki at Ballacraine but patiently bided his time before attempting a pass at the 11th Milestone.
Coward didn’t realise he was coming and moved across on the race leader but Dunlop breathed in and squeezed through. Coward managed to hang tight for a few miles but by Ramsey Michael was pulling away and was well out in front going onto the final lap.
The popular Italians had no luck as both Stefano Bonetti and Francesco Carringa dropped out in the early stages much to the disappointment of those watching track side.
Michael Rutter suffered issues in the pits when his R7 refused to fire. Eventually he got it going but lost some serious time. Rutter admitted afterwards that it was a steep learning curve with the new R7s and that he would require a bigger battery next time. It was ‘The Blade’s 84th TT start. Amazingly his first was in 1994, as Robert Dunlop’s teammate- the race winner’s late father.
Heading onto the final lap, the fans were glued to their radios, fascinated by Browne and Coward’s wrestle over 2nd position. At Ballaugh the gap was just 0.011 with Coward just ahead. But by Ramsey, Browne had found a second and from then on, he kept his nose in front, calling on the high-corner-speed style that seen him win a Manx GP on a 250 Yamaha to get the job done.
“(The podium) makes up for a lot. I was aware that it was tight going onto the mountain on the last lap and just gave it everything. I know that I’m a bit of a dark horse- we put this package together and it’s paid off.”
“It was good fun to be fair. I know Mike was coming, he is on the Paton to be fair- it seems to be the bike to be on. But I’m happy with a podium. We’ll try again on Friday.”
Behind them, Josh Brookes contested fourth place with his FHO stable mate from the bigger classes, Peter Hickman. Only in this race Brookesy was on a Dafabet Kawasaki and Hickman rode his own PHR Performance R7 Yamaha.
Hickman had been lucky to start the race as electronic issues on the new R7 had meant he had struggled to complete a lap during practice. But he managed a full lap in the morning’s warm up (it took place immediately before he won the Stock race) and the organisers slightly bent the rules to let him in, taking into account his vast experience.
It was a move Hickman appreciated and he commended them for working with him; his words perhaps a thinly veiled dig at the North West 200 after the shenanigans there last month.
In the end Hickman got the better of Brookes, but it was a great result for the Aussie and he will have enjoyed being so close to the pointy end all race long after a disastrous Stock race earlier in the day. (He only made it metres before dropping out at St. Ninians)
Frenchman Pierre Yves Bian (who’s also Hickman’s team mate in the Trooper Triumph supersport team) finished sixth, recording another great performance on his Vas engine Paton.
But it was a rapturous applause for Dunlop and his record-breaking win. He revealed that he had been having issues in the lead up to the race with the Paton and had great praise for two team personnel who had driven from Italy to breath their magic on the bike after missing a flight earlier in the week.
“They worked their socks off’, he said, ‘The bike was magnificent. It was class. I wanted to be on my own and do my own thing… I just took it real steady.”
If his bike holds together for Friday’s second race, you would have to think that the race is a banker for him. He will also be hot favourite for tomorrow’s second Supersport race.
At the time of going to press, the tragic news is breaking that Spain’s Raul Torras Martinez has lost his life in tonight’s race. The 46 -year-old was killed in a crash at Alpine between the 16th and 17th Milestones.
He was the fastest ever Spaniard around the TT course and had earlier in the day achieved his ambition of finishing in the top 20 of a 1000 cc race. He had started 21 races and collected 18 Bronze replicas in his career. It’s a stark reminder that the TT can be a cruel place. Our thoughts are with his family and friends.
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