Michael Dunlop wins shortened 2017 Senior TT after Hutchy breaks leg
Michael Dunlop won a shortened PokerStars Senior TT race at the 2017 Isle of Man TT Races, fuelled by Monster Energy on Friday evening with the Bennetts Suzuki rider taking his 15th TT victory by 13.3s from Peter Hickman (Smiths Racing BMW) and Dean Harrison (Silicone Engineering Kawasaki).
The race was restarted over four laps after the original race was red flagged on the second lap due to an incident involving 16-time TT winner Ian Hutchinson at the 27th Milestone. The Tyco BMW rider was conscious but was taken to hospital by airmed where it was later confirmed that he had suffered a fractured femur.
The race had been shaping up to be an epic with just 0.18s between Hickman and Hutchinson and Harrison only 1.2s further back in third but, eventually getting underway at 5.15pm, Dunlop led the restarted race through Glen Helen on the opening lap, with a 1.5s advantage over Bruce Anstey. Harrison was a further 0.9s back in third with Hickman, Michael Rutter and James Hillier completing the top six, the last two getting a second bite of the cherry having experienced problems in the first start.
Dunlop increased his lead through Ramsey slightly to 2s but Hickman was up to second ahead of Anstey who in turn held a 0.2s advantage over Harrison with Rutter still in fifth but with Conor Cummins now up to sixth at the expense of Hillier.
Dunlop added a further second to his lead by the time he reached the Bungalow and an opening lap speed of 132.292mph gave him a 4.2s lead over Hickman who in turn was 3.2s clear of Anstey. Harrison, Rutter and Cummins were holding station in fourth to sixth but Josh Brookes was on the move, going from 12th at Ramsey to eighth at the Grandstand.
At Glen Helen on lap 2 Dunlop had increased his lead by two more seconds and Harrison was now up to third with Anstey dropping back to fourth despite leading on the road and having a clear track. Rutter was still fifth but Hillier had moved back ahead of Cummins for sixth.
By Ramsey, Dunlop was still leading by 6s as him and Hickman practically matched each other every mile. Harrison was losing a bit of time in third but he was pulling away from Anstey who was extending his advantage over Rutter. Hillier was still sixth but just 2.4s covered him, Cummins and Brookes.
Coming into the pits at the end of the lap and Dunlop’s lead was now 9.2s after lapping at 132.903mph with Hickman in second and Harrison third, the latter having lapped at 131.838mph. Anstey was out though at Bedstead with the top six now completed by Rutter, Hillier and Cummins. Brookes was up to seventh having done his first 130mph+ lap around the Mountain Course at 130.551mph.
The lead was down slightly at Glen Helen on lap three to 7.7s as Hillier took over fourth from Rutter with Brookes moving up to sixth and by Ballaugh, Hickman had reduced the deficit to Dunlop further to 7.3s. However, through Ramsey for the third time and the Northern Irishman had got the gap back up to 8.5s.
Indeed, going into the fourth and final lap, the 28-year old was 10.6s clear of Hickman and he duly came home for his 15th TT win, his eventual winning margin being 13.3s.
“The bike never missed a beat. We had the problem in the Superbike race, and if it wasn’t for that, we could have had two wins with the big girl. But we’re here with a brand-new motorbike and the boys have worked hard to get us to this point, and in that race, she never missed a beat. Steve, all the team, put so much effort in and people won’t understand how far we’ve come. We’ve made the impossible possible. I could have gone faster, but it was important to get to the finish. This potential’s been coming. If I’d had this bike at the North West 200 I think that would have been a different story, too. But we’ve won the Senior TT, what more can we say?”
Steve Hicken – Suzuki Team Manager
“That’s why we came here. We couldn’t have any other aim than winning. As we’ve said all week, it’s taken a lot of hard work to get here as the only team in the paddock with a brand-new bike; and we’ve seen others struggle. It was a shame about Saturday, when we were looking like we could have taken the Superbike win as well, but we learnt from it and made the right changes for today and this is the race everyone wants. And when you consider how early the bike is in its development, it’s an even bigger achievement and it shows there’s more to come. But we have to also say a big congratulations and thank you to Michael, as without him and his input, feedback and speed around here, this wouldn’t have been possible.”
Hickman made it five podiums from five starts with Harrison repeating his third place finish from Sunday’s RST Superbike race, aided by his first ever 132mph lap on lap four. Hillier and Rutter ended their strong weeks in fourth and fifth, the gap between the duo just 0.64s at the chequered flag.
The battle for sixth also went all the way to the end with Brookes, who lapped at 130.883mph fourth time around edging out Norton team-mate David Johnson. Cummins, Martin Jessopp, who recorded his first 130mph lap, and William Dunlop completed the top ten.
The results meant that Hickman won the Joey Dunlop Championship with 76 points based on cumulative results from the RST Superbike, Monster Energy Supersport, RL360 Quantum Superstock and PokerStars Senior TT Races with Hutchinson second (61) and Dunlop third (60).
Jamie Coward was the first privateer home in an excellent 11th place with Daley Mathison next home in 13th but Horst Saiger’s 18th saw him clinch the TT Privateer’s Championship. He finished with 71 points with Coward in second on 63.
“What can I say, it’s been an absolutely unbelievable week and five podiums from five races is mega. The first part of the race was shaping up to be a cracker and although Hutchy and I were neck and neck, the clutch was starting to slip so we managed to change it in between races. It was a shame what happened to Hutchy and I wish him well for a speedy recovery. The re-start went perfectly for me, there wasn’t as much grip out there today due to all the rain we’ve had but apart from that, the race was mint. The boys did a great job at the pit stop and although Michael was that bit stronger than me, we did what we needed to do and got another second place. I came here with no podiums but to leave with five is amazing and although it would have been nice to win, I can’t complain as to ride round today with so many fans lining the track was brilliant.”
Michael Rutter – P5
“I was really struggling with the gear change in the first start hence being so far back so the red flag did me a favour as I was able to change bikes and jump on to my regular Superstock bike that I use on the short circuits. It was a miles better and the bike ran faultlessly. I tried as hard as I could throughout and had a real good go on the last lap so to set a near 132mph is very pleasing. I felt really good out there on the restart and I can’t fault the week at all. Winning the Lightweight was the obvious highlight but I’ve had a great set of results across the four races so I can’t complain at all. It’s been another good TT for me this fortnight so a massive thanks to the whole team for all their hard work this fortnight.”
2017 Senior TT Results
Michael Dunlop Suzuki / Bennetts Suzuki 01:09:24.711 130.456 Silver
Peter Hickman BMW / Smiths Racing 01:09:38.031 130.040 Silver
Dean Harrison Kawasaki / Silicone Engineering 01:09:48.216 129.724 Silver
James Hillier Kawasaki / JG Speedfit Kawasaki 01:10:11.713 129.000 Silver
Michael Rutter BMW / Bathams SMT Racing 01:10:12.357 128.981 Silver
Joshua Brookes Norton 01:10:28.793 128.479 Silver
David Johnson Norton / Norton Motorcycles 01:10:31.471 128.398 Silver
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