Ian Hutchinson leads Peter Hickman home for a BMW 1-2 at the 2017 RST Superbike TT
Michael Dunlop set a 131.135mph lap from standing start before gremlins struck the Suzuki
Aussie Norton duo of David Johnson and Josh Brookes both in top ten
False neutral puts Guy Martin out of the race early on
Ian Hutchinson took his 15th victory at the Isle of Man TT races fuelled by Monster Energy when he took a thrilling RST Superbike race on Sunday afternoon by five seconds from Peter Hickman, after Hickman had closed the gap down to 1.6s on the final lap.
Hutchinson’s final run over the Mountain on the Tyco BMW saw him edge clear from Hickman’s Smiths Racing machine, who claimed his maiden TT podium, with early race leader Dean Harrison taking third.
RST Superbike TT 2017 – Podium Press Conference Video
James Hillier (JG Speedfit Kawasaki) led at Glen Helen on the opening lap by 0.8s from Harrison with Hutchinson and Michael Dunlop tied for third but on the run to Ramsey Hairpin, Harrison was 1.3s quicker to turn his deficit into a lead of 0.5s. Dunlop was now in third, 0.7s behind Hillier, with Hutchinson, Hickman and Conor Cummins completing the top six. The returning Guy Martin on the Honda Racing machine was out after crashing, fortunately without injury, at Doran’s Bend.
Jonny Twelvetrees – Honda Team Manager
“Well today was not our day! We were looking forward to the Superbike race, but unfortunately we didn’t make it to the first sector. Guy has told us he hit a false neutral at Doran’s, which caused him to run up the curb and then come down. He’s hurt his wrist a little, but he’s fine and nothing serious, it’s just bruised. He’s understandably shaken as it’s a very fast corner, but the main thing is that he’s OK! He decided to sit out of the TT Zero practice this evening just to rest his wrist and get some ice on it. It’s a shame that we didn’t get the six laps, as we need the track time and the data but, he’ll get nine laps in before the Senior on Friday, which with the lack of track time to date, is very welcomed. He’s got two Supersport races, the TT Zero and a one-lap Senior practice – so they will all be crucial. He’s upping his pace in each session and making solid progress, so we now have to wait for the final race, the Senior TT, which we are all looking forward to.”
By the Bungalow, Dunlop was now in the lead and with an opening lap of 131.135mph he led Harrison by 1.8s. Harrison in turn was only half a second ahead of Hillier with Hutchinson and Hickman holding onto fourth and fifth.The leading five were all above 130mph with Dan Kneen up to sixth on the opening lap.
Second time around and Dunlop still led at Glen Helen but Harrison was quicker over the first nine miles to reduce the gap to 1.4s and by the time the riders passed through Ballaugh, he was leading Hillier by 5.3s with Dunlop and the Bennetts Suzuki out after retiring at Handley’s.
Steve Hicken – Suzuki Team Manager
“What can we say? We were looking good and Michael was comfortable and pulling away, and it says a lot that we set the fastest lap of the race on the opening lap. There was plenty more to come and we could have done a couple of 132s, comfortably. Until that point, the bike was working well but sometimes these things like this happen. It’s frustrating, but that’s racing the TT. We’ll strip the bike this evening to determine exactly what the issue was and work to resolve it ahead of Friday’s Senior TT.”
At Ramsey, Harrison’s extended his lead to 7.5s but Hutchinson was now up into second although he was only 0.4s clear of Hillier and at the Bungalow the latter had turned the tables, also reducing Harrison’s lead to 6.5s.
A second lap speed of 130.907mph meant Harrison’s lead was 5.4s at the pit stop with Hillier still in second and 1.6s clear of new third placed man Hickman. Hutchinson had dropped back to fourth but Hillier lost time getting away. The Manx pairing of Cummins and Kneen were now in fifth and sixth but they too had trouble at the pits with Cummins having a lengthy stop and Kneen picking up a 30s speeding penalty.
Early on the third lap, the leaderboard read Harrison, Hutchinson, Hickman and Hillier as Kneen dropped back to ninth and Cummins 17th and that meant David Johnson moved up to fifth on the Norton and Michael Rutter sixth.
By half race distance, Hutchinson led for the first time but only by 0.4s and only ten and a half seconds covered the top four with Hickman and Hillier holding station in third and fourth. Johnson and Rutter were still in fifth and sixth as Kneen, Bruce Anstey, William Dunlop and Brookes completed the top ten.
On lap four, there was little between the leaders. Harrison moved back into the lead at Glen Helen by 0.6s, the same margin at the next point through Ballaugh. However, by Ramsey Hutchinson was marginally back in front with just 0.07s separating the leading pair. Hickman was only five seconds further back in third but Anstey stopped at Ramsey hairpin before continuing and Steve Mercer and Gary Johnson were out at Cruickshanks and Sulby Bridge respectively.
Coming into the pits at the end of lap four and there was still only ten seconds covering the leading quartet but Hutchinson’s prowess up and down the Mountain gave him a 4s lead and it was now Hickman in second. His gap to Harrison was only 1.6s with Hillier a further four seconds back in fourth.
The pit stops saw Hutchinson lead with a 10s lead over Hickman but Hillier was back up to third with Harrison losing time and dropping back to fourth. Indeed, Hillier was up to second at Glen Helen as he circulated on the road with Hutchinson and the latter’s lead had risen considerably to 9.5s. Two more retirements though were Cummins and last year’s Privateer’s Champion Dan Hegarty.
Going into the final lap, Hutchinson still led but the gap to Hickman was only 7.9s at Glen Helen and by Ballaugh it was only 2.5s. Harrison was now in third as Hillier experienced fuel problems and the thrilling race still saw just 9.5s split the top four.
Hickman had reduced the gap further still at Ramsey Hairpin to 1.6s and it was all going to come down to the final run up and down the Mountain. And with a final lap of 130.738mph, it was Hutchinson who prevailed by 5s despite Hickman the quicker over the final 37.73 miles at 131.103mph.
Harrison claimed third ahead of Hillier with Kneen overcoming his pit lane penalty to take fifth from Rutter albeit by only 0.135s. Johnson, Brookes, William Dunlop and Martin Jessopp completed the top ten.
Peter Hickman – 2nd
“I’m delighted with my first ever TT podium especially as I thought I should have had it in last year’s Senior race. I had no such problems this year and although I was a bit steady at the Peter Hickmanbeginning of the race, I gradually got into it. The lack of practice has affected us all and we’re not lapping as quick as what we were doing last year and although I got to within two seconds of Hutchy, I knew how strong he’d be over the Mountain. I got a little bit excited when I saw my pitboard saying how close it was and although I lost a bit of time at the pits, the last thing I want to do is get a penalty, and the boys did a mega job. The bike never missed a beat, the Dunlop tyres were great and the Ohlins suspension guys did a fantastic job so it’s a great start to the week.”
To the winner though went the major spoils, congratulations Ian Hutchinson on your 15th TT win.
Ian Hutchinson – P1
“We had been practicing our pit stops throughout the week when it wasn’t raining and again in the morning before the race which has definitely paid off. There was a lot of traffic through the race with back markers – but I have learnt through the years not to panic about them and just do your best and get past them as safely and as smoothly as you can – it’s part of a typical six lap TT race. A massive thanks to the whole Tyco BMW team that has delivered everything that I have asked for, and trusting what I thought would work. The team has deserved the big bike win – they put so much work and effort into all the bikes and they always look impeccable when you walk up to them – it makes you want to win on it.”
TT 2017 – RST Superbike Race Results
Ian Hutchinson BMW / Tyco BMW 01:45:58.474 128.170
Peter Hickman BMW / Smiths Racing 01:46:03.544 128.068
Dean Harrison Kawasaki / Silicone Engineering 01:46:11.545 127.907
James Hillier Kawasaki / JG Speedfit Kawasaki 01:46:13.281 127.873
Dan Kneen BMW / Team Penz 13.com BMW Motorrad 01:47:50.068 125.960
Michael Rutter BMW / Bathams SMT Racing 01:47:50.203 125.957
David Johnson Norton / Norton Motorcycles 01:48:25.512 125.273
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