Ian Hutchinson took a fairytale victory in the opening Monster Energy Supersport race on Monday evening when he came home 7.7 seconds clear of New Zealand’s Bruce Anstey, reversing the result of Sunday’s RST Superbike race, with Gary Johnson in third.
It was Hutchinson’s ninth TT win and completed his comeback from the career threatening leg injuries he suffered at the end of 2010, the year he won all five solo races.
The riders enjoyed perfect conditions for the 6.30pm start and it was Johnson who led at Glen Helen on the opening lap by just over two seconds from teammate Dean Harrison. He in turn was only half a second ahead of Hutchinson who was almost dead level with James Hillier. Anstey and Lee Johnston filled out the remaining top six places.
By Ramsey, Johnson had eked out a further half second but Hutchinson was up to second, half a second clear of Harrison who was leading on the roads having already overhauled John McGuinness. Anstey had taken over fourth from Hillier with Johnston holding on to sixth whilst Guy Martin was on the move and was now up to seventh.
Hutchinson was making a move though and, having closed to within two tenths of a second at the Bungalow, his opening lap of 126.400mph saw him lead Johnson by 0.77s. Anstey was a further two seconds back in third ahead of Harrison, Johnston and Martin, Hillier dropping back to seventh.
Glen Helen on lap two and Hutchinson’s lead was now over two seconds but it was Anstey who was now in second as Johnson slipped back to third albeit only seventh tenths of a second behind. Harrison was out though having retired at Crosby Crossroads with Michael Dunlop, down in 12th after the first lap, doing the same at Kirk Michael.
Hutchinson continued to edge away as Anstey and Johnson almost matched each other all the way round, their times almost equal at both Ramsey Hairpin and the Bungalow timing points. Martin was also increasing his pace as just over ten seconds covered the top four but ninth placed Keith Amor tipped off at Stella Maris fortunately without injury.
At the end of the lap, Hutchinson still led but Anstey had charged over the Mountain and a lap of 126.984mph allowed him to close to within 2.4s of the Yamaha man. Johnson was a further two seconds back in third with Martin in fourth but the latter was then hit with a 30 second penalty for speeding in pit lane, which dropped him down the order. Johnston and Hillier remained in fifth and sixth.
Hutchinson’s team were the slicker at the solitary pit stop and by Glen Helen on lap three his advantage over Anstey had almost tripled to 6.6s. Johnson had closed up on Anstey too with less than a second separating the pair.
The Bingley rider maintained his advantage throughout the lap and going into the fourth and final lap he held a six second lead from Anstey. Johnson appeared to be out of contention seven seconds adrift of the Kiwi but well clear of new fourth placed man Johnston.
Anstey was mounting a last lap charge and got the gap down to five seconds at Glen Helen but Hutchinson responded immediately and was a staggering 2.5s quicker than his Honda rival on the run to Ballaugh which gave him a more manageable lead.
The 35-year old Yorkshireman was able to control the race for the remainder of the lap and, with the fastest lap of the race – 127.571mph – he took the flag from Anstey and Johnson with Lee Johnston securing his best TT finish in fourth. Martin finished in fifth – which would have been fourth had it not been for the penalty – with Hillier having another good ride into sixth.
John McGuinness, Conor Cummins, Dan Kneen and Michael Rutter completed the top ten.
Speaking after the race, Hutchinson said: “I was always going to become a TT race winner again someday! The race went really well and the Team Traction Control Yamaha is just a dream to ride – I felt like I was out delivering pizzas or something I felt that comfortable in the race! Starting as number nine wasn’t ideal, I think some people didn’t think I would be capable of running at the front again, so I got dropped down the numbers this year but I caught Guy and then I got out behind him in the pit stop, but apart from that it was pretty good. It was so special to hear all the fans around the circuit – people have taken note of me and I am so grateful for everyone’s support and for being behind me. The team gave me this opportunity a week before the TT and I hadn’t ridden it before I got here and we did three laps in practice and it has been an absolute dream to ride and thanks to the team for dropping everything to get me out here in this race. Keith Flint will be absolutely starting fires!”
Guy Martin had this to say after a race where seemingly a faulty pit-lane speed limiter, that was set at 55km/h, saw Martin relegated off the podium into fifth place for breaking the 60km/h limit – “I hadn’t been out on the bike for a couple of days and having been on my Superstock bike in the morning I was a bit lazy at the start and I think my first signal said ‘P13’. That woke me up a bit and I started to get my head into the race a bit more and the lap speeds were pretty good. As for the pit lane penalty, what can I say? It’s frustrating to say the least. The limiter was set well below 60kph and it was the same rear tyre that Gary Johnson used last year so we’re not sure why it happened. It’s frustrating like I say but the bike was faultless and we can give it another go on Wednesday.”
David Johnson had a strong ride setting a new personal best lap on a 600cc machine at 124.299mph on his way to claiming 11th place, having been in 18th at the end of lap one. It followed on from the Australian’s excellent showing in yesterday’s opening RST Superbike race where a succession of 127mph plus laps on the Smiths BMW S1000RR saw him secure tenth place on the Superbike.
David Johnson: “I still need more time on the Superbike and it’s still a bit unstable at high speed. I rode it as hard as I could and tenth wasn’t a bad result. The Supersport race was hard going as we’re struggling to get it aerodynamic enough to suit me. I’m quite big and am giving 10mph away to Guy along the straights but every time I get on it, I make progress and to lap at over 124mph on my final lap was pleasing.”
Ivan Lintin had held that 11th place before Johnson’s excellent final lap had promoted the Australian into that position with Bardney resident Lintin having to settle for 12th.
Ivan Lintin: “It’s good to get a finish under our belt for both myself and the team and we’re happy with the 12th place finish. I knew David was going to be strong so my plan for the race was to try and keep him in sight the whole way through and I thought if I could do that, I wouldn’t be far off the top ten. I managed to do it until the last lap when he edged away from me but I was really happy with how I rode during the race and how the bike performed. It was a good twelfth place particularly as not many riders dropped out and it gives us a great boost for the rest of the week.”
Cameron Donald finished 13th on the Padgetts Honda.
Keith Amor was reported to have come off at Stella Maris but and was taken by airmed to Nobles Hospital with facial injuries.
Earlier in the day William Dunlop was taken by airmed to Nobles Hospital and was reported to have broken ribs while in the Lightweight qualifying session Adam Child came off at Guthries and was taken to Nobles with an ankle injury.
Ben and Tom Birchall took a dramatic victory in the opening Sure Sidecar race at the 2015 Isle of Man TT Races, fuelled by Monster Energy, coming home almost twenty five seconds clear of John Holden/Dan Sayle for their second TT victory.
The duo won in a new race record time with Conrad Harrison/Mike Aylott taking third but there was disappointment for pre-race favourites Dave Molyneux/Ben Binns and Tim Reeves/Patrick Farrance who both went out on the first lap.
At Glen Helen on the opening lap it was Holden/Sayle who led by just half a second from the Birchalls with Molyneux/Binns a further second back. Harrison/Aylott were in fourth ahead of Reeves/Farrance but the latter were soon out having retired at the top of Barregarrow.
It was all change at Ramsey as Molyneux went to the top of the leaderboard but only by the miniscule amount of 0.003s and Holden/Sayle were only a further half second back! Harrison/Aylott remained in fourth but had dropped to eleven seconds in arrears with Ian and Carl Bell moving up to fifth.
There was further drama on the opening lap though as Molyneux/Binns stopped at Brandish to make adjustments and so it was the Birchalls who ended the lap in the lead with a speed of 115.285mph. Holden/Sayle were up to second, five seconds behind, with Harrison/Aylott third ahead of the Bells, Alan Founds/Tom Peters and Gary Bryan/Jamie Winn.
Molyneux was soon reported as having retired at Brandish with fellow Manxmen Karl Bennett/Lee Cain also out at Douglas Road Corner. But the Birchalls were pressing on ahead and by Glen Helen, they’d extended their lead to eight seconds over Holden/Sayle with Harrison/Aylott continuing to drop further back in third, now some 19 seconds adrift.
Holden briefly got the deficit to the Birchalls down to six seconds half way round the second lap but the Nottinghamshire brothers responded and, with a superb lap of 116.060 – the second fastest of all time – their lead had increased to 13.5s as they went on to their final lap. Holden had also set his personal best with 115.240 and was now 25s clear of Harrison/Aylott with the top six rounded out by the Bells, Bryan/Winn and Founds/Peters, the last named lapping in excess of 111mph in just their second year at the TT.
The gap between the Birchalls and Holden remained constant all the way round the first half of the last lap but they eventually crossed the line a comfortable 24.1s ahead for their second TT win in three years with Holden taking his 12th TT podium. For Sayle, it was his ninth rostrum, the most ever recorded by a passenger at the TT.
Harrison/Aylott were secure in third, the Bradford driver taking his ninth podium in the last ten races, with the Bells taking fourth ahead of Founds/Peters and Bryan/Winn, the gap between the last two just 0.007s.
Gary Knight/Jason Crowe, Rob Handcock/Aki Alto, Matt Dix/Shaun Parker and Wayne Lockey/Mark Sayers rounded out the top ten.
In a race full of personal best laps, French woman Estelle Leblond, partnered by Sebastian Lavorel, cemented her status as the fastest ever female driver around the Mountain Course with a lap of 107.297mph on her way to finishing an excellent 18th.
Fiona Baker-Milligan, passenger to her father Tony, recorded a lap of 109.321, the fastest ever lap by a female passenger.
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