The RL360 Superstock race got underway under a biting and harsh sun at 1415 on Monday afternoon and it was Conor Cummins on the #1 Padgetts Honda to blast down Bray Hill for the first time.
Dean Harrison was on fire in Saturday’s Superbike TT, setting a new outright TT lap record on the Silicone Engineering Kawasaki before a clutch failure robbed him of his chance for victory. The benefactor of Harrison’s demise was of course Michael Dunlop who took that Superbike victory and then earlier today added to his win tally with a decisive Supersport victory on his MD Racing Honda CBR600RR.
In the litre class however Michael Dunlop is on a BMW S 1000 RR fielded by Tyco BMW and it did not take long at all to work out this bout would again be a tale of two men, Dunlop and Harrison.
Dean Harrison was again immediately quick from the off and by Ballaugh had 4.4-seconds on Dunlop who in turn had 6-seconds on Michael Rutter. Fourth was James Hillier ahead of Gary Johnson, Peter Hickman, David Johnson, Conor Cummins and Martin Jessopp while Phil Crowe rounded out the early top ten.
Lee Johnston retired at Ballacraine before the end of the opening lap.
Conor Cummins got the better of Rutter for third place before the Bungalow while Harrison continued to pull away from Dunlop, the gap out to 4.965-seconds at Cronk-ny-Mona.
133.073 from a standing start the opening lap for Harrison, just outside the 133.098 Superstock lap record set by Ian Hutchinson back in 2016.
Ian Hutchinson here this weekend competiting but far from on form as he continues to fight back to fitness from massive leg injuries sustained last year, his discomfort easily visible to all as he limped his way around the pits with the help of a walking stick. Hutchy was 19th on lap one but eventually retired early on lap two, making it two retirements for the official Honda Racing squad after Johnston did not even make the end of the opening lap. The team’s TT nightmare continuing.
132.514 for Dunlop on that first lap, 132.087 to Hickman, 130.457 to Rutter, 130.335 to Cummins and a 130.315 to David Johnson putting him only a tenth-of-a-second behind fifth placed Cummins. Peter Hickman had made a mistake on that opening lap, running on at Braddon, having to push and pull his machine back around to rejoin the circuit, costing him plenty of time early on in that lap but an awesome second half of the lap put him back in contention.
On the second lap Peter Hickman started to pull some ground back on Dunlop, 1.442-seconds behind Dunlop at Glen Helen early on lap two. By Ballaugh Hickman had moved past Dunlop to take that second position and immediately started pulling away. Hickman looking very fast on this lap two, cutting Harrison’s lead down to 4.07-seconds at the second split. Conor Cummins then retired from the race.
By Ramsey Hairpin Hickman had cut Harrison’s lead down to 2.467-secs, and stretched his buffer over Michael Dunlop to 2.265-secs. Michael Rutter was now 26-seconds behind third placed Dunlop and had David Johnson chasing him hard.
At the Bungalow the gap between Harrison and Hickman had narrowed to 1.20-secs and now Michael Dunlop is coming with him! Dunlop’s gap to Hickman down to 1.96-secs.
The next split was Cronk-ny-Mona and Peter Hickman was now in the lead! Across the stripe Hickman registered a 134.077mph lap on that second lap before entering pit-lane with his pursuers. That lap a new Superstock lap record by a handy margin to the Smiths Racing BMW man.
David Johnson had made his way past Michael Rutter after clocking a 130.833 to promote the Gulf BMW S 1000 RR up into fourth place while Rutter then started to come under attack from James Hillier.
After the pit stops things got even tighter at the top and the order had also been changed up. Michael Dunlop back into the race lead by Glen Helen ahead of Dean Harrison and Peter Hickman, the gap covering that leading trio only 1.2-seconds. David Johnson in fourth place was a further 37-seconds behind and being chased doggedly by James Hillier.
Hickman was back in second place by Ballaugh and only a tenth behind race leader Michael Dunlop but by Ramsey Hairpin Peter Hickman was back in the lead by almost a full-second. Dave Johnson now had James Hillier virtually lineball with him on times as that pair tussled over fourth place.
By the Bungalow Dunlop had narrowed Hickman’s lead back down to 0.178-secs and that pairing had started to pull clear of Dean Harrison.
As they started the final lap Hickman had 0.537-sec over Michael Dunlop who in turn had 4.3-secs over third placed Dean Harrison. David Johnson had responded to the challenge of James Hillier to strengthen his hold on that fourth place, his buffer 3-seconds with 37.73 miles to go.
By Glen Helen Hickman had stretched away from Dunlop, the gap out to 1.38-secs, while Harrison had pulled a fair bit of gound back on Dunlop, the difference there was down to 2.2-secs.
Michael Dunlop really put his head down from there though to pull away from Dean Harrison and close right up on Peter Hickman, the difference down to 0.146-secs between the two on the timing monitors which sent a ruffle around the grandstand as it was now very much game on!
Peter Hickman responded though and pushed his lead back out to just over two-seconds by Bungalow. Hickman claiming a new outright record between Ramsey Hairpin to Bungalow at 3min11.672secs. Dean Harrison was now out of the race for the win but was in a very safe third place, over a minute ahead of Dave Johnson.
Peter Hickman the winner after that awesome 134.403 on the final lap, again lowering the Superstock TT lap record on the Smiths Racing BMW on his way to his debut TT win. That adds to his wins in British Superbike, Macau and the Northwest 200 to really underline his versatility.
Michael Dunlop takes second place, 4.452-secs behind Hickman, but 4.6-secs ahead of third placed Dean Harrison.
South Australia’s David Johnson adds another fourth place to his scorecard as he searches for his first TT podium. Davo is impressing many here this weekend with his consistent pace as he gathers good results and keeps his nose clean, his machine together and his head cool.
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