Michael Dunlop smashes records on way to Senior TT victory at 2016 Isle of Man TT
Images by IOMTT / Dave Kneale
Michael Dunlop shattered his own outright lap record in Friday’s Pokerstars Senior TT, the final race of the 2016 Isle of Man TT Races fuelled by Monster Energy, as the Hawk Racing BMW rider lapped at 133.962mph on his way to his 13th TT victory. In a repeat of Saturday’s RST Superbike race, Dunlop got the better of Ian Hutchinson and John McGuinness with his eventual winning margin a commanding 31.4s.
With morning delays, the race finally got underway at 3.45pm and at Glen Helen on the first lap, Dunlop had already established a healthy 1.8s lead over Hutchinson with Harrison a further 1.6s behind in third as Lee Johnston, Gary Johnson and Peter Hickman rounded out the top six, just six seconds covering the top ten.
Dunlop was really pressing on but having doubled his lead by the time they jumped Ballaugh Bridge, Hutchinson had reduced it again at Ramsey to 2.9s while Johnson moved up to third ahead of Hickman, Bruce Anstey and Dean Harrison.
With an opening lap speed of 133.256mph, Dunlop led Hutchinson by 2.8s with the leaderboard places behind the leading pair constantly changing. Hickman had moved into third, eight seconds down on Hutchinson, with fourth to sixth now seeing Anstey, Johnson and Harrison occupying the places.
Hutchinson grabbed the lead on the road on the second lap but he was unable to make any inroads into Dunlop’s time and all the way round the lap, the Ulsterman’s advantage grew. Indeed, with yet another new outright lap record of 133.962mph, Dunlop led his BMW rival by a commanding 9.2s as they made their first pit stop at the end of the lap.
There was change further behind though as Anstey moved up to third, albeit almost 26 seconds behind Hutchinson, after Hickman retired at Brandywell. John McGuinness, down in ninth at the end of the first lap, had jumped up the order to fourth with Harrison in fifth and Johnson now in sixth.
The pit stops saw Dunlop and Hutchinson maintain their first and second place positions but McGuinness’ crew again worked wonders and that helped him take over third by the time he reached Glen Helen on lap three, with the Morecambe man now some 6.7s clear of Anstey. Johnson’s good run ended though with a retirement at Appledene while David Johnson slid off the Norton at Sulby Bridge after posting a 130mph lap on his opening lap.
At half race distance, Dunlop had stretched out his lead slightly to 11.2s and now almost had Hutchinson in his sights on the road. McGuinness had also pulled away from Anstey with the difference between the two Honda riders having gone out to 11.8s. Harrison was holding station in fifth with Conor Cummins moving up to sixth.
Coming into the second pit stop and two-thirds race distance at the end of lap four, Dunlop still didn’t have full control of the race as the gap was still only 10.6s. Hutchinson and McGuinness were circulating on the road together and looked secure in second and third with the lower leaderboard places also becoming more settled, Anstey, Harrison and Cummins still occupying fourth to sixth.
Dunlop’s team got him in and out quicker than Hutchinson and his lead grew by an additional five seconds. Indeed, he now had him firmly in his sights on the roads and was able to ride accordingly for the final lap and a half, eventually overhauling both Hutchinson and McGuinness on the road too.
He eventually took the chequered flag from Hutchinson by over twenty seconds with McGuinness taking his 46th TT podium in third. Harrison grabbed hold of fourth on the penultimate lap from Anstey as Cummins, Rutter, Johnston, James Hillier and Ivan Lintin rounded out the top ten.
The results saw Hutchinson end with 115 points to be a comfortable winner of the Joey Dunlop TT Championship with Harrison second on 80 and Dunlop third with 70.
Meanwhile, Dan Hegarty was the first privateer to finish in an excellent 11th and that saw him clinch the TT Privateer’s Championship with 91 points to Jamie Coward’s 72.
Isle of Man Senior TT 2016 Press Conference
Sure Sidecar TT Race 2 report
Ben and Tom Birchall took their fourth career TT win on Friday with victory in the second Sure Sidecar race at the 2016 Isle of Man TT Races, fuelled by Monster Energy.
The IEG Racing duo were locked in battle with Dave Molyneux/Daniel Sayle for the first lap but when they retired, they had a comfortable lead and eventually took the win by 38.7s from John Holden/Andy Winkle with Tim Reeves/Patrick Farrance taking the final podium spot.
Delayed by over three hours due to sea mist, the race finally got underway at 1.30pm and it was Molyneux/Sayle who led at Glen Helen on the first lap but only by a tenth of a second from Holden/Winkle with the Birchalls only a further second back. By Ramsey, the gap was half a second but it was now Holden who was leading with Birchall still only a second further adrift in third.
However, it was all change again at the Grandstand as Molyneux retook the lead, his advantage over the Birchalls 0.9s as Holden slipped back to third, now almost four seconds back in third. Reeves/Farrance slotted into fourth.
Second time around at Glen Helen and there was another change at the top of the leaderboard as the Birchalls grabbed the lead for the first time. They were now half a second ahead of Molyneux/Sayle with Holden/Winkle still well in contention in third, just two seconds behind.
However, as the lap unfolded, the Birchalls began to put the hammer down and by Ramsey Hairpin, they’d stretched the gap to 4.5s. And with a second lap speed of 116.615mph, their lead had grown further still, now standing at 6.2s as they started their third and final lap.
Holden/Winkle were still in third but now 11.7s behind Molyneux and seemingly out of touch whilst Reeves/Farrance remained comfortable in fourth. Founds/Walmsley who were running in sixth place pulled in to retire just after passing the start and finish.
There was more drama though at the head of the field as Molyneux/Sayle failed to make it Glen Helen on the final lap, retiring at Ballig Bridge. That made it a lot more comfortable for the Birchalls at the front and their advantage over Holden/Winkle now soared to 21.7s with Reeves/Farrance promoted up the order to third.
The Birchalls now had full control of the race with a 28s lead at Ramsey Hairpin and they were able to successfully bring the outfit up and down the Mountain to clinch their fourth win.
Holden/Winkle were secure in second and with the runners-up spot, they took the overall Sidecar Championship with Reeves/Farrance salvaging their TT race week with another podium.
Karl Bennett/Lee Cain were another crew to make amends for a first race retirement with the local crew taking fourth with Matt Dix/Shaun Parker also having a career best finish in fifth.
Steve and Matty Ramsden ended their successful fortnight with sixth as Alan Founds/Aki Aalto, Gary Bryan/Jamie Winn, Tony Baker and Fiona Baker-Milligan and Gordon Shand/Phil Hyde completed the top ten, Baker-Milligan consolidating her tag as the fastest-ever female passenger with more 110mph+ laps.