27th Heaven for Michael Dunlop; then rain stops play at TT.

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It was 27th heaven for Michael Dunlop, as he moved ahead of his uncle Joey to become the most successful rider in the history of the Isle of Man TT. Three days after being cruelly robbed of victory in the Superbike Race on Sunday, he made no mistake today with a start to finish victory.

The day was bright; windy; with high cloud scudding across the sky when the roads closed on the unseasonably cold Mountain Course. The weather forecast suggested that there was a fairly short window of opportunity in which to run the day’s rearranged schedule; this proved to be unerringly accurate.

After the warm up lap; very useful for the riders to ascertain where the remaining damp patches were; we were underway with the 3 laps of the Supertwins Race 1. The first timing beam; at Glen Helen; showed that Michael Dunlop (MD Racing Paton) was on a mission. He led by 3.2s from Dominic Herbertson (Burrows Engineering Paton) and past MGP winner Rob Hodson (SMT Paton). Jamie Coward (KTS Kawasaki); Peter Hickman (Swan Yamaha) and Mike Browne (Scott Racing Aprilia) completed the nascent leader board. Baz Furber (DC Autos Yamaha) held 7th with Davey Todd (Dafabet Kawasaki) 8th. Potential podium man Paul Jordan had machine problems and retired the Rec2Race Yamaha at the pits.

Nearly half way around the lap, Dunlop had an advantage of 10.74s from Peter Hickman; who had bemoaned his machine having a lower top speed than many of his rivals. Herbertson, Browne, Coward and Hodson completed the top 6. Our vantage point today was on the inside of the corner at White Gates; where the Ramsey timing beam is situated. A small number of enthusiasts were gathered to watch the riders sweep around the left hand bend and power away towards Ramsey Hairpin. Jamie Coward was first to reach us; and he was neat and fast. Jordan was next on the ailing Yamaha; then it was Dunlop on the sweet sounding Paton; using a wide line to keep his speed up. Then in quick succession, Pierre-Yves Bian (VS Engine Paton), Hodson, Michael Rutter (Batham’s Yamaha), Dominic Herbertson, Davey Todd (Dafabet Kawasaki); then Josh Brookes with Peter Hickman right behind him. The timing showed that Dunlop led by 9.057s from Herbertson; with Hickman 0.5s behind in 3rd. Coward, Hodson and Browne completed the top 6.

An opening lap at 121.044mph gave Dunlop a lead of 10.235s as he came in for the mandatory pit stop. The stops were without drama today; Rutter’s the best, but most within 1.5s of each other. At Glen Helen, Dunlop led by 10.74s; with Hickman now 6.52s ahead of Herbertson. As he passed us Dunlop led by 14.029s from Hickman, who had increased his advantage over Herbertson to 9.78s. Browne, Coward and Hodson filled the top 6. TT debutant Joe Yeardsley was riding superbly to be 10th; one place ahead of Pierre-Yves Bian; a podium finisher last year.

Hickman was fastest over the mountain; he cut the advantage to 12s as they began the third and final lap. Herbertson had been in Hickman’s slipstream over the mountain and increased his margin over 4th placed Browne to14.06s. On a similar theme Coward was now in the Dunlop slipstream and gaining from the tow. Hodson’s race was soon over; he retired on Bray Hill.

At Glen Helen, Dunlop led by 17.4s from Hickman; with Herbertson 11.7s ahead of Coward. Mike Browne was aware of some oil on his right boot; he backed off on right hand bends as a consequence and with that went his podium chance. A sector best time allowed Dunlop to lead by 20.482s at the famous bridge in Ballaugh. Coward set the sector best on the run to Ramsey; where he was just 6.6s down on Herbertson. Coward was just 5 metres behind Dunlop as they swept through White Gates; could the tow drag him to the third podium step? Coward could not stay with Dunlop on the mountain climb; his time was virtually identical to; ending his podium chance.

 

A lap at 122.434mph; amazing in the conditions; gave Michael the victory that cements his immortality. Michael’s race average was 120.700mph; he won by 20.406s from Hickman; with a delighted Herbertson securing his first TT podium in third place. Coward was 4th, Browne 5th and Todd 6th. Rutter was 7th; Yeardsley a superb 8th; South Africa’s Allan Venter and Pierre-Yves Bian completed the top 10.

The weather forecast then came to haunt us; heavy showers around the course ended play for the day. There is scheduled to be a revised three race programme tomorrow; however, the forecast is far from encouraging for it to be completed.