Senior Race Day dawned with sunshine breaking through lifting cloud that soon dispersed. However the aftermath of yet another overnight deluge meant that the start of play was delayed for two hours. There was a large gathered at the Gooseneck to watch the drama unfold. The first big news of the day was that Guy Martin would not be taking part in the Senior Race. No amount of gloss could disguise the fact that he was not prepared to ride the problematic (other adjectives have been used) new Fireblade.
Guy did ride in the TT Zero; almost aptly named due to the small number of competitors and the fact that only two had a chance of winning. At least all of the starters finished the race. The recalled Bruce Anstey was the favourite due his knowledge of the bike and the riding style required. Bruce led by 10s at Glen Helen; increased that to 18s at Ballaugh and it was game over. The one disappointment for Bruce was that he was not able to break through the 120mph barrier. Guy took the Gooseneck in fine style and left us to wonder if that would be the last time that we saw him on the Mountain Course. His post race interview gave the impression that only another ride on the Mugen would bring him back.
The bare facts of the race are these: Bruce won the race by 41.4s fron Guy; with a rather surprised Daley Mathison repeating last year’s third placed finish 48s down on Guy and 13s ahead of Dean Harrison on the Belgian Sarolea machine.
SES TT Zero
- Bruce Anstey Mugen 117.710mph
- Guy Martin Mugen 113.632mph
- Daley Mathison Nottingham Uni 109.209mph
After the tedium of having to watch yet more Hooray Henrys being taken around in the Subarus it was time for the second Sidecar Race to entertain the crowds. This proved to be a repeat master class from Ben and Tom Bichall as they took victory by 26.5s from John Holden/Lee Cain. Holden/Cain were marginally the quickest on the run to Glen Helen; but the Birchalls hit the front for the first time on the run from Glen Helen to Ballaugh and were never challenged again as they took their sixth TT victory. Holden took his 17th podium in second with Conrad Harrison/Andy Winkle, in their first TT together, took the final podium place. Conrad bemoaning lack of time on the new machine and bodywork that refining in the wind tunnel.
The crews were warned of a hint of dampness on the exit of Ginger Hall, Ramsey Hairpin, Hillberry and Governor’s Dip and the race got underway at 1.15pm with Holden/Cain leading through Glen Helen on the opening lap.
They held a slender 0.9s advantage over the Birchalls with Dave Molyneux/Dan Sayle in third and Tim Reeves/Mark Wilkes, Alan Founds/Jake Lowther and Lewis Blackstock/Patrick Rosney completing the top six.
Pete Founds/Jevan Walmsley, sixth in the first race, were early retirements at Quarter Bridge, and Molyneux/Sayle followed them at Sulby Crossroads but at least they were guaranteed of a free lunch and beer from mine host Rosie. At Ramsey Hairpin, certainly man Roy Moore informed us that the Birchalls increased their lead to 1.4s from Holden/Cain. Molyneux’s retirement promoted Reeves/Wilkes into third, they were 7s down on Holden.
The Birchalls were imperious around the Gooseneck and surged over the Mountain to record an opening lap of 115.567mph that gave them a lead of 7.9s but it was Reeves/Wilkes who were now in second with Holden/Cain a further 1.2s adrift. Founds/Lowther were in fourth with Blackstock/Rosney going great guns in fifth. Best action of the race came when Estelle Leblond swept out the corner below Gooseneck and out braked Wayne Lockey; took the inside line and powered off up the mountain climb.
At the head of the field, the Birchalls extended their lead to 13.5s but Holden/Cain were now back up to second as Reeves/Wilkes stopped at Glen Helen briefly before getting back into the race. Founds/Lowther were also in trouble and they retired at Quarter Bridge, which allowed Blackstock/Rosney to move up to fourth.
By Ramsey second time around, the Birchalls had added another four seconds to their lead and there were further changes at the top of the leaderboard as Reeves/Wilkes retired at Lambfell. That put Blackstock/Rosney up into a brilliant third with the top six now completed by Steve and Matty Ramsden, Conrad Harrison/Andy Winkle and Allan Schofield/Steve Thomas.
A second lap of 116.423mph meant the Birchalls went into the third and final lap with a healthy 20s lead over Holden/Cain with Blackstock/Rosney maintaining their third position courtesy of their maiden 110mph+ lap around the Mountain Course at 110.599mph.
There were to be no changes in the front two over the final 37.73-miles but Blackstock/Rosney slowed and that allowed Harrison/Winkle to take third, the former having to settle for fourth.
Karl Bennett/Maxime Vasseur came through for fifth but there was disappointment for the French female pairing of Estelle Leblond/Melanie Farnier who, after lapping at 109.394mph, was forced to retire from sixth on the final lap. The amazing 71 years old Tony Baker; with daughter Fiona Baker-Holden in the chair took a superb sixth place. Rob Handcock/Ken Edwards, Greg Lambert/Julie Canipa, Wayne Lockey/Mark Sayers and Gary Knight/Dan Evanson completed the top ten.
Sure Sidecar Race 2
- Ben Birchall/Tom Birchall LCR Honda 115.760mph
- John Holden/Lee Cain Silicone Honda 114.891mph
- Conrad Harrison/Andy Winkle PRS Honda 110.041mph
- Lewis Blackstock/Patrick Rosney Holden Suzuki 109.832mph
- Karl Bennett/Maxime Vasseur Suzuki 108.901mph
- Tony Baker/Fiona Baker-Holden Silicone Suzuki 108.601mph
After the brief Subaru punctuated lunch break it was time for Senior Race; what the late Peter Kneale described as the Blue Riband race. This proved to be an emotional roller coaster; with the shortened second running of the race giving Michael Dunlop his 15th TT win and Suzuki their first Senior Race win since Adrian Archibald’s victory in 2004. He always seemed to have matters under control and duly took a fine victory by 13.3s from Peter Hickman (Smiths Racing BMW) and Dean Harrison (Silicone Engineering Kawasaki). He and his team proved that you can win a TT with a brand new bike; adding to Honda’s misery.
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. We send our best wishes to Ian and hope that he makes a full recovery.
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. In this race Michael Dunlop had been off the pace and a victory looked a distant possibility. The race had been providing great entertainment as the riders took the corners below and the Gooseneck itself in fine style. Bruce Anstey led on the road on the opening lap with Davo Johnson on the silver dream Norton right behind him. It seemed that Privateers’ Cup leader Horst Saiger had blown his chance of winning it when he was high sided off the Kawasaki as he tried to accelerate away from the corner. Thankfully he was unscathed and the bike was still rideable so he took it in on the scenic coastal route back to Douglas and was able to take the start line for part two. The leaders had not long past us on lap 2 when our travelling marshal was called into action; then the commentary revealed that Hutchy had not made it to the Bungalow. When red flags were shown around the circuit a silence fell over the crowd and enthralled smiles were replaced by furrowed brows and deep dread. Then came the confirmation that Hutchy had been involved in an accident and the extent of his injuries; relief was the only emotion.
Clerk of the Course Gary Thompson announced that there would be a restart at 5.15pm, over the shortened four laps distance. The interlude allowed Dunlop’s team to make adjustments to the rear suspension; those made for version one had been in the wrong direction. Michael was not going to miss the second chance that he had been given; he 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 being beneficiaries of the second chance afforded to them after they hit problems in version 1.
Dunlop had increased his lead to 2s as he swept into Parliament Square, 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 he and Hickman practically matched each other every mile. Harrison could not quite match the pace of the front two; but he was pulling away from Anstey who was in turn 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 forced to retire at Bedstead; meaning that the top six was completed by Rutter, Hillier and Cummins. Brookes was up to seventh having completed 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 increased his advantage to 8.5s.
He was fastest of all on the mountain section and going into the fourth and final lap, the 28-year old was 10.6s clear of Hickman. There were no last lap dramas and he duly came home for his 15th TT win, his eventual winning margin being 13.3s.
Hickman made it five podiums from five starts; Harrison repeated 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 brave 18th place finish saw him clinch the TT Privateer’s Championship. He finished with 71 points with Coward in second on 63.
Poker Stars Senior TT
- Michael Dunlop Bennett’s Suzuki 130.456mph
- Peter Hickman Smith’s BMW 130.040mph
- Dean Harrison Silicone Kawasaki 129.724mph
- James Hillier JG Speedfit Kawaski 129.000mph
- Michael Rutter Batham’s BMW 128.981mph
- Josh Brookes Norton 128.479mph
- David Johnson Norton 128.398mph
- Conor Cummins Padgetts’ Honda 127.589mph
- Martin Jessopp Riders’ BMW 127.247mph
- William Dunlop Temple Yamaha 127.221mph