Todd wins Senior TT – Hicky crashes out; Dunlop takes total to 29

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The final day of racing at TT 2024 had more drama than a box set of Agatha Christie movies. Firstly, the weather kept the delays coming to the frustration of the crowds gathered around the course and raised doubts that we would be able to avoid a repeat of Friday’s washout. Thankfully, this was not the case and Clerk of the Course, Gary Thompson, could breathe a sigh of relief. Once racing started it was compulsive viewing with some amazing speeds on roads that had more damp patches than has become the norm this week. Once the sun came out the roads dried quickly, and the wind died away to leave nearly perfect conditions come the Senior.

The first race of the afternoon as the second Supersport Race over 2 laps. Our location was at Milntown, where crowds gather to watch the racing up close and to enjoy some fine food. They come for the sheer speed as the bikes become airborne over the Glen Auldyn Bridge then heel right, skirting close to the wall on the inside of the corner.

In such a short (by TT standards) race a good start was paramount. The timing at Glen Helen told us that the class master, Michael Dunlop (MD Yamaha), had a lead of 0.56s from Davey Todd on the Powertoolmate Ducati Panigale; everyone’s favourite machine of the meeting. James Hillier (Bournemouth Kawasaki) was 3rd 0.136s down on Todd. Dean Harrison (Honda), Peter Hickman (Trooper Triumph) and Jamie Coward completed the top 6. The only change at Ballaugh was that Mike Browne (Russell Racing Yamaha) had displaced Coward. Soon they were with us; Coward and Paul Jordan sweeping out of Pinfold Cottage; taking the bridge flat out then heading away to Schoolhouse; clicking sixth on the long straight. The action was excellent for the crowd; Harrison, Dunlop and Browne raising the front wheel the most. Dom Herbertson failed to reach us; machine failure at Kerrowmoar put him out.

Dunlop’s lead was 1.534s at the White Gates timing beam; where Coward had retaken 6th. Dunlop’s lead increased by 1.2s on the mountain climb; Harrison was fastest on that section to be just 0.184s down on Hickman. A lap 127.389mph gave Dunlop a lead of 0.904s from Harrison; the fastest man down the mountain. Locals Mikey Evans (Smith’s Triumph) and Joe Yeardsley (Spin Arena Yamaha) were riding well in 10th and 13th respectively.

Dunlop was fastest to Glen Helen on lap 2; his lead over Harrison just 1.79s. He was fastest to Ballaugh; the lead there was over 3s. The action was again superb; Harrison and Coward just 1m apart as they hammered through; Harrison clicking sixth in the corner. The lead for Dunlop was over 4s in Ramsey; despite him having to roll the throttle going out of Milntown. Todd was nibbling at Harrison’s advantage over; but the mountain was Harrison’s strongest area. Fastest to the Bungalow was Coward; benefiting from a tow from Harrison; he was up to 4th.

A lap at 128.225mph gave Michael his 28th TT victory by 3.889s from Harrison (128.706mph); with Todd taking 3rd. Coward took a much deserved 4th; edging out Hickman by 2.229s in a Triumph duel. Another great ride saw Hillier take 6th; Browne was 7th; Jordan 8th. Mikey Evans was best local in 9th; whilst the retirement of Jim Hind moved Josh Brookes up to 10th.

The next race was the second Supertwins race; scheduled to be over 2 laps. Junior MGP winner Joe Yeardsley was a late non-starter. Dunlop on the MD Racing Paton took control immediately; he led by 3.53s from Peter Hickman (Swan Yamaha); with Jamie Coward 3rd on the Steadplan Kawasaki. Mike Browne (Scott Aprilia), Dom Herbertson (Burrows Paton) and Barry Furber (DC Autos Yamaha) completed the early leader board. At Ballaugh, the lead had nearly doubled. First to reach us was Coward; with Paul Jordan (Rev2Race Yamaha) 50m behind; they both gave us impressive hops over the bridge. After Pierre-Yves Bian; we had Dunlop; he gave the best leap of the race as he went through on full gas.

At the timing beam Dunlop’s lead was up to 8.92s; with Coward 1.93s down on Hickman. For Coward, the race was over when he had to park his ailing machine at Creg ny Baa. Hickman was the fastest over the mountain; he cut Dunlop’s lead to 6.45s as they headed out for the final lap. Dunlop had lapped at 122.451mph; Hickman at 121.743mph. Mike Browne was now third; with Herbertson; Jordan and Davey Todd (Dafabet Kawasaki) completing our top 6.

Dunlop was in no mood to ride to boards; he set a succession of best sector times and was over 8s inside lap record pace and set to lap at over 124mph when the red flag was shown; leaving the leading riders stranded on the mountain. With no time available to reschedule the race; the result was declared on the end of lap 1 positions; a 29th TT for Michael Dunlop; the master of the Supersport and Supertwin classes. Thankfully Jack Petrie suffered non-life threatening injuries in the red flag incident at Handley’s Corner.

As the evening sun began to dip lower in the sky it was time for the blue riband event of the meeting; the Senior TT over 4 laps of the Mountain Course. 6 laps is the preferred distance; however, 4 laps can be enthralling as proven in 2015; a Senior that gave us one of the greatest races ever; when John McGuinness proved the bookies wrong and won the race; setting a new outright lap record in the process.

It was sunny at Sulby Bridge and there was a decent number of spectators trackside to enjoy the race. Jamie Coward decided not to start because of his arm injury and Conor Cummins had withdrawn from the meeting.

The first timing beam at Glen Helen showed that Peter Hickman (FHO BMW) had been fastest out of the traps; he led by 0.109s from Davey Todd (Milwaukee BMW). Michael Dunlop (Hawk Honda) held 3rd 2.3s down on Todd. Dean Harrison (Honda) was 4th, 1.3s down on Dunlop. Then something of surprise as Josh Brookes (FHO BMW); who has struggled to set his bike up throughout the meeting; was shown to be 5th, 2.1s ahead of James Hillier (WTF Honda). Hickman was fastest to Ballaugh; he led there by 1.58s. John McGuinness (Honda) had displaced Hillier from 6th.

McGuinness was first to Sulby and looked like he was on rails. Then Harrison; neat and fast, as always. Next was Dunlop; normally quite spectacular he braked in a straight line and used less road on the exit than he normally does. After Hillier, fast and unfussy; we had Brookes, with Todd just 10m behind him; both rapid. Brookes set the fastest speed ever seen on Sulby Straight with 206.966 mph on this lap; simply mind blowing. The action was great for the spectators. Hickman was fastest on the sector; he led Todd by 2.67s. Behind Harrison and Brookes; Hillier and Mike Browne had displaced McGuinness. Hickman increased his lead on the mountain climb; but for Dunlop the race was over; machine failure put him out just after the Bungalow.

A first lap of 135.523mph gave Hickman a lead of 2.694s over Todd. With his best ever lap of 133.388mph Brookes had taken 3rd from Harrison (132.976mph). Hillier was 5th with Browne 6th; he set his own and Aprilia’s first 130mph lap. Best of the local riders was Honda’s Nathan Harrison (we haven’t claimed Dean -yet) who put his Superstock machine around at 128.941mph.

A sector record to Glen Helen gave Hickman a lead of 4.878s as he powered away to Sarah’s and Lambfell. Hickman was on lap record pace; he led by 8.361s as he jumped over the famous bridge in Ballaugh. Harrison and McGuinness were first to reach Sulby; both very neat and fast. Then it was Todd; he backed his machine into the corner in superb style. Next it was Brookes; Hickman 50m behind him; with Hillier 100m further back. Then drama; waved yellow flags at Ginger Hall; clearly there had been an accident. It was Hickman; he was up on his feet; but a tad groggy after losing the front end on the exit of the corner. Thankfully a visit by the Airmed team was able to confirm that Peter was okay. He spent the rest of the race enjoying the hospitality in the Ginger Hall Hotel. It was a huge relief to everyone that he was all right.

Hickman’s misfortune meant that Todd was the race leader. He led by 19.8s from Brookes at Ramsey. With a lap at 134.964mph Todd had a lead of 19.64s as he came to the pits. Brookes upped his personal best to 134.056mph, to have an advantage of 15.486s over Harrison. Hillier, Browne and McGuinness completed the top 6.

Todd and Harrison both gained over 5s on Brookes at the pit stop. The big loser was Shaun Anderson who incurred a 30s penalty for being marginally over the pit lane speed limit; this ended his hopes of forcing his way into the top 6. At Glen Helen, the lead for Todd was 28.8s; with Harrison now 9.1s behind Brookes. Todd continued to edge away from Brookes, who was increasing his advantage over Harrison. Lap 3 was drama free in Sulby as the fast show continued. At Ramsey, the lead was 32.384s; at the Bungalow 34.52. A lap at 132.589mph; including the pit stop; gave Todd a lead 35.875s as he began the final 37.73 miles of TT 2024.

The lead was 41.15s at Glen Helen where Brookes was 13.6s ahead of Harrison. Todd added to his lead as the lap continued and all seemed settled behind him. Once again great action at Sulby; but the leaders seemed to have settled for what they had. With 13.73 miles to go Todd led by 43.02s at White Gates. Todd eased his pace over the mountain and duly came home to win his second TT by 39.084s at a race average of 132.847mph. Josh Brookes took second place and his third TT podium after a wonderful ride; his average speed for the race was 131.598mph. Dean Harrison averaged130.759mph to secure another podium finish. James Hillier; John McGuinness and Mike Browne completed the top 6. Nathan Harrison finished 7th; he did exactly what was asked of; him settled into the team; raised his pace gradually. He will be aiming to push on next year and claim top 6 finishes; he certainly has the talent. Despite his penalty from the thought police; Shaun Anderson finished 7th; lapping at 130.703mph on the final tour. Michael Rutter and Paul Jordan completed our top 10. Julian Trummer was the best of the continental riders with 14th. Local riders Mikey Evans and Ryan Cringle finished just 1.914s apart; Evans in 16th; Ryan Cringle in 17th, with his brother Jamie 15.97s behind in 18th.

So ended a TT that gave major headaches to the organizers; marshals and medics. The weather was the polar opposite of last year; especially in terms of temperature. We lost one race; had others shortened; but also had some amazing action on track; the Superstock race perhaps being the highlight. The Superbike gave us a scarcely believable double twist at the second pit stop and another win for Peter Hickman. We had a wonderful local double in the Sidecar races; that had the fastest ever newcomer in Rhys Gibbons and the fastest ever lady in the class through Emmanuelle Clement. Perhaps, we also saw the last hurrah for a great champion as an emotional Dave Molyneux took a podium finish with Jake Roberts. Then there was Michael; four imperious wins that took him up to and past Joey to top the winners’ list; perhaps he will now be given the respect that he deserves; he truly is great.

This year, the radio coverage was a quantum jump better than last; Chris Boyd and Lee Johnstone nailed it; facts; figures, some humour and a genuine rapport – radio gold.