Bruce Anstey got the 2015 Isle of Man TT Races, fuelled by Monster Energy, up and running in superb style on Sunday afternoon when he swept to a hugely popular victory in the RST Superbike race.
The Kiwi overhauled early race leader Ian Hutchinson at the beginning of the fifth lap and took his 10th TT win – and first in the Superbike class – by 10.9s with James Hillier taking third after Michael Dunlop crashed out on the final lap.
After a three-minute delay, the race got underway at 2.03pm and Hutchinson who led at Glen Helen by just 0.2s from Anstey with Hillier in third just half a second further back. However, one of the pre-race favourites Guy Martin was already out having stopped at Ballagarey.
Guy Martin: “I don’t know what happened is the honest answer, only I was a little bit angry, but that’s racing. The boys work hard for me and have done again tonight going over the bike with a fine-tooth comb. Tomorrow’s a new day.”
By Ramsey, Hillier had taken over at the front with his advantage over Anstey half a second with Hutchinson back in third but only a further half a second adrift. However, an incredible opening lap of 130.959mph gave Hutchinson the lead after the run over the Mountain with his buffer over Anstey 1.2s as Hillier slotted into third. Dunlop moved up to fourth with John McGuinness in fifth and Gary Johnson sixth.
Second time round and Hutchinson eked out his lead at each of the commentary points and with a near identical lap, 130.901mph, the gap over Anstey was up to 4.4s as the riders came in for their first pit stop. Hillier maintained station in third, four seconds down on Anstey, and he’d also caught McGuinness on the road, the 21-times winner still in fifth behind Dunlop. Johnson was holding onto sixth from Conor Cummins and William Dunlop.
The gap between the leaders remained practically the same all the way round lap three, Hutchinson’s lead now 4.79s. Dunlop was up to third, thirteen seconds in arrears with Hillier only two seconds behind.
McGuinness was now joined by Honda team-mate Cummins in the top six but Cummins was then forced to retire at Kirk Michael on lap four with a technical problem.
Conor Cummins – “It was a bit unfortunate we didn’t finish today, but it’s one of those things and is no one’s fault. I have every faith in my team that they’ll look into it and have things ready for Friday. I had a really weak first lap, not too sure what was going on, but I need to up my game a little bit and my first lap needs to be stronger. Overall I don’t think my lap times were too dissimilar to John’s. Mid-race I started to find my feet and I was getting stronger, but I’d made hard work for myself having to catch up. Looking back at the race, it’s not all doom and gloom. I was happy with both the second and third laps, and the fourth was going well. It’s unfortunate we didn’t get a finish, but that’s racing and these things happen. I’m looking forward to giving it another go on Friday!”
Anstey was getting firmly into his stride now and all the way round the fourth lap, he reeled Hutchinson in and with a lap of 131.333mph, he was just 0.2s behind coming into the second pit stop and his Valvoline Racing by Padgetts team turned the deficit into an advantage and he was two and a half seconds clear at Glen Helen.
The 45-year old was now circulating on the roads in close company with McGuinness, Hillier and Dunlop and he pulled a few tenths out at each commentary point. Anstey was getting more and more secure at the front and all eyes fell on Dunlop who was putting in a final lap charge.
Anstey’s lead was up to 5.5s at Ballaugh on the final lap and with a final, flying lap of 131.797mph, he crossed the line a more comfortable 10.9s clear of Hutchinson who was back on a TT podium for the first time since 2010.
Bruce Anstey – “I can’t believe it really, I have won 250 races, 600 races, Superstock races, but this is the one I have been waiting for and I finally got it. These guys gave me a good run for my money, it was one of those races, was just so close the whole way and anything could happen. We had two really good pit stops, we gained a couple of seconds at each stop so I was really happy with that. Fourth, fixth and sixth lap, I was just trying to be as fast and smooth as possible. Get the bike home, the Fireblade was flawless all week, just perfect, the guys did such a perfect job. Clive and all the boys did a perfect job, Valvoline, awesome, didn’t touch a suspension clicker or anything on it all week, was just perfect all the way.”
Bruce Anstey’s first Superbike win now makes him the 12th man to reach the double-figure tally of TT wins. His tally of ten putting him equal with Giacomo Agostini, Stanley Woods and Ian Lougher.
Ian Hutchinson: “I got away well and just tried to settle into it and was happy with my pace over the first couple of laps. The first pit stop went well but then halfway through the race it started raining on the west of the Island which unsettled me a bit. When you’ve had thirty operations on your leg and you’re flat out on a superbike with slicks on in the wet, it makes you think twice! The positions started to change and I gave it all I could on the last couple of laps but Bruce did enough to win and I’m pleased for him. But for me to come back here and be so competitive, this is the first time I’ve raced at that kind of pace for five years now I couldn’t expect too much, I can only get stronger from now on. The bike and team is capable of winning so there’s a lot more to come.”
Michael Dunlop’s final lap charge ended at the Nook when he crashed out after tangling with a slower rider and so Hillier took third, his first ever Superbike TT podium.
James Hillier: “With John starting ahead of me, my plan was always to try and chase him down and I couldn’t have been happier with my opening lap. I got a glimpse of him in a few places and tried to close him down and I eventually caught him on the second lap. I knew I’d be fairly close to the podium if I could do that but Bruce, Hutchy and Michael were lapping just that little bit quicker. There were a few rain showers on the west part of the course as well and I had a pheasant come out in front of me in Kirk Michael so that unsettled me a bit. After the second pit stop, John came by me again and I could see he was going hard so I made sure I kept him in my sight. Bruce and Michael caught and passed us both and doing a bit of high-speed maths told me I was probably going to finish in fourth, which would still have been a good result. As it was, Michael had a coming together with a slower rider and I brought the bike home for third. I feel about 20 years older now and my knees are killing me but it’s a good start to the week. It was an amazing job by the team and a massive effort whilst the pit stops were superb.”
McGuinness, William Dunlop and Michael Rutter completed the top six but the incident at the Nook brought the red flag out and no other riders completed the full race distance.
John McGuinness – “I’m a little bit disappointed with fourth place as I felt I rode pretty well but that’s the TT for you now – it’s so hard and so competitive and TT wins and podiums don’t get given out in Christmas crackers. I lost my tear-offs on the first lap and was a bit of a fly sweeper, but it’s no excuse. My first lap felt pretty good to be fair, but James used me as a good target and caught me on the road pretty early whilst we didn’t quite have the quickest of pit stops, the wheel change was perfect but the fuel seemed to take an age to go in, it was almost as if the filler was playing up In the last third of the race, I got back in front of James and tried to break away but then Bruce came by and with him having taken 40 seconds out of me, he was really on it. I kept plugging away and gave it my all until the end and I wasn’t that far off the podium, but fair play to the front few riders. It’s good to see Bruce get a Superbike win at last and Hutchy back on the podium, but I’ll be firmly aiming to be on there myself later this week.”
William Dunlop: “After limited time during practice week we can’t complain about fifth place in a six lap race here at the TT. I’ll be honest and say it’s not where I want to be as it’s all about getting ushered into the winners’ enclosure, but we have a few more opportunities later in the week. I’ve learned a lot more about the BMW S1000RR in this race, so we will take the positives from that and use it to improve in the Senior on Friday.”
Following the Dunlop incident, which resulted in the red flag, seventh place onwards was taken from the end of the fifth lap and so Dan Kneen, Peter Hickman, Lee Johnston and David Johnson completed the top ten.
Dan Kneen: “I enjoyed the race and although I felt like I was trying a bit too hard at the beginning, I settled down as best I could and let the race come to me. It was difficult to know how hard to push at times but I focused on building up my speed as the race wore on and although I thought I’d got sixth sewn up, the red flag put paid to that and I had to accept seventh. Ipassed through the incident but wasn’t able to complete the lap as I got stopped at Governor’s Bridge. It’s a shame but it’s a solid start and solid result. The bike was working well and it’s nice to get a full race distance under my belt so a big thanks to the team for giving me a great bike. It gives me a good platform to build on and we have plenty of races still to go.”
Peter Hickman: “I’m happy enough with eighth place in the first race of the week, particularly as I was riding a Superstock bike in a Superbike race. It was good to get some laps in at last and I enjoyed myself out there. I caught David Johnson but it was difficult to found a good place to pass as we were both running a similar pace. He was quicker than me in some places and vice versa but I got by him at the Creg on three occasions! Like I say, it’s good to get the first race out of the way and I’m really happy with another top ten finish.”
David Johnson – ‘Very happy with top 10 in the Superbike TT today. The big bike was still a beast to ride but a heap better than earlier in the week! Still work to do in roder to close in on the top five on the Superbike but the Smiths Racing crew will sort it, Superstock and Supersport races tomorrow and I’m pumped.”
Gary Johnson also crashed out on the last lap at Guthries but was reported as OK and will be fit for tomorrow’s races.Andy Lawson was taken by airmed to Nobles with neck and arm injuries after an accident at Guthries while Scott Wilson, who was the other rider involved in the accident at the Nook was also taken by airmed to Nobles and was reported to have a broken clavicle.
Cam Donald finished 18th on the new SG4 Norton. “Quite happy that we finished the race, six solid laps, two excellent pit stops that made me up a lot of time. The bike ran well, stayed reliable, and that was probably the number one priority for this race, almost to treat it like six laps of practice, which it was, it was an excellent six laps, we got a lot of data from that to try and improve the machine. From here we can work on trying to improve the chassis, that’s what’s holding us back at the moment, it is not the speed of the bike, it is going very quick, it is just trying to harness that power and get it to work around here. Practice lap Wednesday then the Senior on Friday night so we have still got a few days to trim the edges and try and improve. We were aiming for top twenty and we managed that with 18th, I would have liked a mph or two quicker. I think we have got to be satisfied with where we finished today, there were a lot of top teams and riders that failed to finish today, because of mechanical failures, so it is a feather in our team’s cap that we finished with the bike still running in perfect conditon. I went out on a set-up that up was sort of new to me, so the first two laps I was quite cautious building up the speed to see how the bike handled, from the end of lap two, the next four laps we were a lot quicker, fast enough to be racing five positions forward of where we finished. With some improvements on the bike and myself starting off quicker on Friday we should be able to take that jump forward up the standings.”
Keith Amor had been forced to retire from the opening 6-lap Superbike race. Keith’s problems began straightaway and he had to stop at Ballacraine to try and tighten up the nut on the footpeg. He had to stop again at Parliament Square and with the time lost, his opening lap was a lowly 109.428mph. He immediately pitted to get the footpeg fixed and also to make some suspension changes, rejoining the race primarily to get some extra track time. However, he pulled in to retire for good at the end of the second lap.
Keith Amor: “It’s massively frustrating but it is what it is and that’s the TT for you. I knew the race was going to be a bit of a gamble after losing the practice session on Saturday and we tried a new suspension setting which we wouldn’t know if it worked until we tried it. No sooner had the race started though, I was in trouble and when I looked down I could see a nut had sheared off a bolt in the footpeg and it kept working its way loose. I stopped twice to tighten it up so I pulled in to the pits after the first lap to fix it. We also made some more suspension changes so I went back out but the bike still wasn’t working as I wanted it to. I pulled in at the end of second lap as I’d lost so much time and we didn’t put any more miles on the engine. All the BMW riders are using different tyres and different suspension so there’s no-one we can compare ourselves too so it’s been hard going with the set-up. It’s frustrating as we’ve all put so much effort into everything but the key to a good result here is having a good set up. We’ve three more days of racing though so plenty of time to get some good results.”
Lincolnshire rider Ivan Lintin was having his first TT race on a Superbike machine and started well on the Kawasaki ZX-10R with an opening lap of 125.633mph putting him comfortably inside the top twenty. It was also his personal best lap of the 37.73-mile Mountain Course. However, on the second lap, a problem with the clutch lever meant Ivan had to stop to make adjustments at Ballaugh and although he got going again, the problem didn’t go away and he eventually retired at the pits just as he’d begun to move up the leaderboard.
Ivan Lintin: “I was really happy with my first lap and managed to catch Ryan Kneen pretty early. I didn’t want to push too hard too soon though and just sat behind him for a bit whilst I got into my rhythm. At the start of the second lap though, the clutch started slipping and I pulled in at Ballaugh to adjust it. It never got better and I had to pull in so it was a bit of a disappointing start. I would really have liked to have got the full six laps under my belt but I was happy with my pace and we’ve made further progress with the bike and in the right direction whilst we’ve still get five more races to go.”
IOM TT 2015 – Superbike – RST Superbike Race
Bruce Anstey – Honda
Ian Hutchinson – Kawasaki +11 secs
James Hillier – Kawasaki – +1 minute
John McGuinness – Honda – 1 min 13 secs
William Dunlop – BMW
Michael Rutter – BMW
Dan Kneen – Honda
Peter Hickman – BMW
Lee Johnston – BMW
David Johnson – BMW
Jamie Hamilton – Suzuki
Steve Mercer – Honda
Daniel Hegarty – Kawasaki
Russ Mountford – Kawasaki
Daniel Cooper – Honda
Alan Bonner – Kawasaki
Ryan Kneen – Kawasaki
Cameron Donald – Norton
Stefano Bonetti – Kawasaki
Christopher Dixon – Honda
Shaun Anderson – Suzuki
John Ingram – Honda
Jamie Coward – Honda
Sam West – Kawasaki
Ian Pattinson – BMW
James Cowton – BMW
Ben Wylie – Bimota
Paul Shoesmith – BMW
Derek McGee – Honda
Mark Parrett – BMW
IOM TT solo lap records
TT Superbike – Bruce Anstey (2014) Honda 132.298mph
Senior TT – Michael Dunlop (2014) BMW 131.668mph
Superstock TT – Michael Dunlop (2013) Honda 131.220mph
Junior TT Supersport – Michael Dunlop (2013) Honda 128.666mph
Lightweight TT Supertwins – James Hillier (2013) Kawasaki 119.130mph
Lightweight TT (250cc) – John McGuinness (1999) 118.29mph
TT Zero (electric bikes) – John McGuinness (2014) Mugen 117.366mph
Siedecar – Nick Crowe and Dan Sayle (2007) LCR Honda 116.667mph
Fastest Newcomer – Peter Hickman (2014) BMW 129.104mph
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