Michael Dunlop took his eighth TT victory when he won Saturday’s 6-lap Dainese Superbike race in record-breaking style. The BMW Motorrad rider took control from early race leader James Hillier at Ballaugh on the opening lap and, aided by two laps inside the old outright lap record, he surged clear and was able to control the race in the closing stages to take the win by 20.5s from Guy Martin (Tyco Suzuki) with Conor Cummins (Honda Racing) in third.
There was also sensational news on the final lap when Bruce Anstey, outside the top ten on the opening lap after overshooting the Nook, tore round the Mountain Course on the Valvoline Racing/Padgetts Honda to become the first man ever to have lapped at more than 132mph with a final lap of 132.298mph.
Hillier was quickest to Glen Helen on the opening lap on his Quattro Plant/Muc-Off Kawasaki and he led Dunlop by one second with Martin, a rapid starting Dean Harrison (RC Express Racing Kawasaki), Gary Johnson (Lincs Lifting Honda) and Dan Kneen (Cookstown BE Racing Suzuki) close behind.
As the lap unfolded though, it was clear Dunlop was charging and having overhauled Hillier at Ballaugh, he increased his lead all round the opening 37 and ¾ miles and with a new lap record of 131.730mph, he rocketed clear with Martin 9.4s in arrears. The leaderboard was constantly changing and Cummins moved up into third with Hillier, Harrison and John McGuinness completing the top six with Johnson reported retired at Creg ny Baa.
Dunlop was in determined mood and was closing in on Martin, who had started twenty seconds ahead of him on the road, the gap between the duo after two laps almost 17 seconds as the Ballymoney man went quicker still at 131.890mph. The Tyco Suzuki rider was six seconds clear of Cummins as they took their first pit stop with Michael Rutter up to fourth on the Bathams BMW.
Dunlop, Martin, McGuinness and Hillier were circulating in close formation on the roads but Dunlop’s lead was increasing and he was first into the pits at the end of lap four, the gap to Martin now a very healthy looking 25s after another 130mph+ lap. Martin was coming under pressure from Cummins though with his advantage now under five seconds for the first time while Rutter was still in fourth with McGuinness and William Dunlop completing the top six.
As the race went into it’s final third, Dunlop and Martin were still together on the roads and the 25-year rode to his signals to control the race for his eighth victory and BMW’s first ‘big bike’ win 75 years after BMW Motorrad’s last Superbike victory at the Isle of Man in 1939, when Georg Meier (DE) won on a Type 255 Kompressor.
The experts from Munich are on site at the legendary road race event to help with their expertise, but also with technical support. For example, BMW Motorrad Motorsport supplied the Superbike engine for Dunlop’s RR.
“It’s been 75 years for BMW Motorrad since it won the TT in 1939 – so today’s win is a nice present to send back to its museum”, said Dunlop. “The BMW Motorrad/Hawk Racing team worked really well, and we showed everyone that you can complete two laps at full race pace on that BMW S 1000 RR. For a bike to last around the TT, especially the way I bust them, is just fantastic. The BMW is only just showing its potential, there’s a lot more to come from that bike. My team were up all night working hard to prepare my RR. The guys have done a fantastic job and Kurt Böck from BMW Motorrad Motorsport has been a superstar. I can’t say thanks enough to the whole team.”
“This is just absolutely fantastic, big congratulations to Michael and the whole team”, enthused Berthold Hauser, BMW Motorrad Motorsport Technical Director. “To compete on the Isle of Man is a very special challenge, and we are proud to be a part of this success. Over the last weeks, we worked intensively together with BMW Motorrad/Hawk Racing on preparing for the Isle of Man. It is completely different to racing on a circuit, and the bike is pushed to and far over its limits on these difficult roads. Our task was to give Michael an RR that can master this cruel challenge – and we succeeded. We are more than happy that our joint effort with the team has led to this historic win.”
“Congratulations to Michael and BMW Motorrad/Hawk Racing. This is a very special success for BMW Motorrad Motorsport”, added Udo Mark, BMW Motorrad Motorsport Marketing Director. “It was a dream for us to see Michael winning on the Isle of Man exactly 75 years after the historic triumph of Schorsch Meier – and this dream has become reality. Thanks a lot to everyone who played their part in this success. Now we are looking forward to the remaining races on the Isle of Man.”
Martin took his 14th podium in second with Cummins three seconds further back after doing his all on the final lap.
Conor Cummins – “It’s been a tricky few years since my accident and I’m just so happy to be here, I can’t say much more than that. I’m feel like I’m riding well and I’m learning all the time on the Honda Fireblade. I was really pushing for second place and I had good boards all around the course, so thanks to the boys that were out there. I can’t say a big enough thank you to Honda Racing, my sponsors and all the people that have helped me get here today.”
Anstey really put the hammer down after his early race mishap and his lap of 132.298mph was some six seconds quicker than McGuinness’ lap set in the same race last year.
Rutter ensured it was a good day for BMW with a strong fifth with William Dunlop making a late charge to overhaul McGuinness on the final lap, the gap between the pair just 0.8s after six hard laps.
The 20-times winner had to settle for seventh with his wrist injury, as expected, unable to run the pace for six entire laps but it was a solid effort by the Morecambe man.
John McGuinness – “It feels a bit weird not to be in the winner’s enclosure but I have to take it on the chin and 3-4 weeks ago there’d have been no chance of me finishing a six-lap race so I’ve got to take the positives out of the day. I didn’t disgrace myself and whilst seventh doesn’t look the greatest on paper, I was in the hunt for fourth for most of the race, particularly the second half, so I didn’t fade.
“There were some parts of the course where the wrist wasn’t on my mind at all but there were others where it was definitely holding me back and I got the worst run of backmarkers on the final lap that I think I’ve ever had. It’s not their fault but if God could have picked three worse places for them to be, he dropped them right there on the last lap! Overall, I’m a bit disappointed but I can only do what I can do and rode to my limits on the day which is all you can do. The best therapy is riding and it was a solid performance.”
Harrison and Hillier both dropped back as the race wore on, finishing in eighth and ninth with Josh Brookes completing the top ten and the top finishing Yamaha. David Johnson scored 12th position on the PR Kawasaki.
Newcomer Peter Hickman had a brilliant ride into 14th place with his final lap of 126.195mph making him the second fastest newcomer in TT history and it also meant he was the first privateer home with Ivan Lintin (17th) and Russ Mountford (18th) second and third in the early TT Privateer’s Championship.
Debutantes Martin Jessopp and Danny Webb both picked up bronze replicas in 26th and 37th also posting their best laps of the event so far at 123.470 and 120.508 respectively.
New Zealander Bruce Anstey continued his form around the Mountain Course in tonight’s SES TT Zero 2nd Qualifying session. The New Zealand rider followed up his stunning outright lap record around the Mountain Course with an unofficial lap record for the TT Zero class, posting a time of 112.355mph (20:08.914).
His Mugen teammate also took the opportunity for a lap and was marginally outside Michael Rutter’s lap record (109.675) set last year. Robert Wilson (Sarloea Racing), Mark Miller (Vercarmoto) and George Spence (Kingston) also completed electric bike laps this evening.
Earlier in the evening, Clerk of the Course Gary Thompson opted to give the riders a chance to practice on their Superstock machines ahead of Monday’s race as well as their Supersport and Lightweight and a number of riders took up the option.
Guy Martin again emphasised his quality after his Superbike podium with a 127.22 mph lap in the Superstock qualifying while Bruce Anstey, Lee Johnson and Michael Dunlop were all over 126 mph.
In the Lightweight qualifying session Ryan Farquhar was the fastest on the night with a lap of 116.84, still outside Ivan Lintin’s time from Tuesday evening, with Olie Linsdell powering the stunning Paton to a similar speed (116.23).
Gary Johnson posted a pair of quick laps in the Supersport class (125.72 and 125.16) with Josh Brookes, William Dunlop, Ian Hutchinson, MIchael Rutter and Dean Harrison all posting 123mph+ laps.
After six previous podium positions and over 20 years since his debut, Conrad Harrison, partnered by Mike Aylott, took his maiden Isle of Man TT victory on Saturday after coming through from an opening lap fourth to win a dramatic opening Sure Sidecar race.
Harrison and Aylott took the win by 17s from former winner John Holden/Andy Winkle with last year’s Race 1 winner Tim Reeves, now partnered by Gregory Cluze, a further 16 seconds back in third.
With conditions remaining ideal all round the course, Ben and Tom Birchall grabbed the early initiative at Glen Helen on the opening lap but it was tight with their lead over Holden/Winkle just 0.7s as Dave Molyneux/Patrick Farrance found themselves four seconds further back in third. They, in turn, were only two tenths of a second clear of Harrison/Aylott with Tim Reeves/Gregory Cluze less than a second behind in fifth.
By the end of the lap, the Birchalls had extended their lead to four seconds after a lap of 114.335mph and Molyneux/Farrance moved up to second with Holden/Winkle dropping to third. Harrison/Aylott and Reeves/Cluze still occupied fourth and fifth but the local pairing of Karl Bennett/Lee Cain moved up to sixth place.
As the outfits swept through Glen Helen second time around, Molyneux/Farrance were now in the lead by ten seconds with Holden/Winkle in second and Harrison/Aylott third as news came through that the Birchalls had crashed out at the Black Dub, fortunately sustaining only minor injuries but the brothers were taken by airmed to Nobles hospital for further assessment.
Having started at number one, Molyneux/Farrance were taking full advantage of the clear road and with the fastest lap of the race, 115.538mph, on the second lap, they rocketed into a 21.5s lead. The battle for second was hotting up though as less than a second separated Holden and Harrison, Reeves still in fourth ahead of Bennett/Cain and Ian and Carl Bell who were having a great drive in fifth.
However, more drama lay ahead as Molyneux/Farrance failed to make Glen Helen on the third and final lap, later being given as a retirement at the Hawthorn, and that meant Harrison and Holden were now fighting it out for the race win with still only 0.9s between them.
However, as the lap wore on, it was clear Harrison/Aylott were stronger and they soon opened up a sizeable gap over Holden/Winkle and, aided by their fastest ever lap of the TT Course at 114.674mph, they took the win by 17s with Reeves/Cluze a similar margin behind in third.
The Bells took a brilliant fourth on Ian’s return and Carl’s debut, posting a brilliant final lap of 111.242mph, and Bennett/Cain upheld local honour with an excellent fifth place.
Wayne Lockey/Mark Sayers secured their best ever position in sixth with former race winner, as a passenger, Darren Hope in seventh, partnered by Paul Bumfrey. Greg Lambert/Kenny Cole, Roy Hanks/Kevin Perry and Gordon Shand/Phil Hyde completed the top ten whilst an excellent drive by newcomers Alan Founds/Tom Peters saw them come home in 11th and after a brilliant final lap of 108.506mph.
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