A day that started brightly became a very dark one as the most problematic TT meeting of all time was hit by tragedy during the Superbike Race. Daley Mathison; from Stockton-on-Tees; lost his life in an accident at Snugborough; Union Mills; whilst on his third lap. The popular 27 years old rider was a talented rider who had achieved two podium finishes at the TT. He leaves wife Natalie and a young family; in their words he” is now sleeping with the fairies.” We join the organizers in sending our deepest condolences to them. This sport that gives so much enjoyment and such a sense of achievement also takes a horrible toll. Rest in Peace Daley.

The weather was dry and bright; but the riders were faced with a green track; a wind that was gusting to 40 knots and the interminable dampness at Governor’s Dip. The race had been shortened to 4 laps because of the need to fit the races into a shortened timescale. After another short delay the race fired into life with Conor Cummins powering away to face the stomach churning descent of Bray Hill. The first greyhound chasing the hare was Dean Harrison on a new machine that had completed only 3 laps in practice. Peter Hickman was another seemingly ill prepared; having missed the first practice session and broken down in the second (of just 3) he had not set up his Superbike. This led to him using his stock bike with the Superbike suspension fitted. Many riders had similar problems with new bikes not having sufficient track time; most riders saying it would be more practice than race for them.

As it transpired the race was developing into a classic when it was halted. At the first check point commentary point Cummins remained the leader on the road; but Harrison had nibbled away some of the 10s starting interval. As the riders streamed through it was obvious that Ian Hutchinson and John McGuinness were encountering problems. The timing had Harrison leading by 1.2s from Hickman; with James Hillier, always rapid to Glen Helen, in third. Cummins was fourth, Michael Dunlop 5th and Michael Rutter 6th on the fabulous Honda RCV213V-S, Moto GP replica in 6th. At Ballaugh Harrison led by 1s from Hickman, with Cummins now ahead of Hillier. At our vantage point at Waterworks, Cummins was the first to sweep into view and he took the double right hand in fine style. Harrison was similarly fast and smooth. Michael Dunlop appeared to be having stability issues with his mount. Our amateur timing gave Harrison a lead of 1.5s over Hickman as they powered away to flick through Tower Bends. If the pattern of last year was to be repeated Hickman would claw the deficit back on the mountain climb.

Conor Cummins; once again the best of the Honda riders.

Harrison had vowed to address last year’s weakness and was as good as his word; he led by 1.4s at the Bungalow. With an amazing lap; in the far from ideal conditions; of 132.483mph, Harrison led by 1.09s as they raced past the Grandstand to face Bray Hill once more. Cummins lapped at 131.715mph to be 4.9s down on Hickman. Hillier, Dunlop and Rutter filled the leader board places. For John McGuinness the race lasted just one lap; he parked the Norton and walked away disconsolately.

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At Glen Helen, Harrison had nearly closed the gap on Cummins and continued to lead on corrected time; the advantage over Hickman was 1.5s; with Cummins 7s down on Hickman. Harrison was rapid on the run to Ballaugh; at the famous bridge he had increased his lead to 4.8s; with Cummins now just 4.7s down on Hickman. Harrison used the slipstream to pass Cummins on Sulby Straight; but any thoughts of pulling away were misplaced. The two were inches apart as they swept through Waterworks for the second time; Cummins glued to Harrison’s rear wheel.

Dean Harrison leading Conor Cummins.

At the Bungalow Cummins was once again the leader on the road; with Harrison inches behind him. Hickman simply flew up the mountain and wiped out all but 0.045s from Harrison’s lead as they hammered away towards Brandywell and the descent back to the pits.

At Cronk ny Mona the lead had changed hands; it was Hickman who led by 0.7s. Over the final dash to the pit entrance he grabbed another second to lead by 1.78s. Slick pit work by Harrison’s crew gained 1.129s for their man; game on. Hickman’s lap speed was 132.947mph; Harrison’s 132.574mph and Cummins’ was 132.370mph; awesome riding.

At Glen Helen the timing showed Hickman to be just 0.5s ahead of Harrison who was the master of the run to Ballaugh. As they approached Ballaugh Bridge the dreaded red flag was shown and the race was over.  The result was declared on positions at the end of lap 2.

RST Superbike Race

  1. Peter Hickman               Smith’s BMW                                     132.644mph
  2. Dean Harrison               Silicone Engineering BMW                   132.529mph
  3. Conor Cummins             Milenco by Padgetts Honda                 132.042mph
  4. James Hillier                 Quattro Plant Kawasaki                       129.996mph
  5. Michael Rutter               Batham’s Honda                                129.199mph
  6. Michael Dunlop             Tyco BMW                                          129.033mph
  7. Davo Johnson               Honda                                               128.251mph
  8. Jamie Coward               Prez Yamaha                                      128.189mph
  9. Gary Johnson                RAF Kawasaki                                    127.799mph
  10. Davey Todd                 Penz 13 BMW                                    127.261mph

The Sidecar Race 1 saw a master class from Ben and Tom Birchall; with John Holden and Lee Cain in their fifth successive second place. The race was robbed of two potential podium finishers within the first 3 miles; both Tim Reeves (bottom of Bray Hill) and Dave Molyneux (Braddan) suffered mechanical problems.

Ben & Tom Birchall, 9 times TT winners.

The Birchall brothers have normally been conservative (their version of that word) on the initial blast to Glen Helen; but not in this race. They were fastest out the traps and led by 4.14s from Holden/Cain at the commentary point. Behind them a battle was developing that was to last the entire race. It featured the two Team Founds outfits; at Glen Helen it was Peter Founds/Jevan Walmsley who had the advantage over Alan Founds/Jake Lowther. At Ballaugh the Birchalls led by 5.6s; but behind it was becoming obvious that we were about to witness something very special. Up to 6th place were newcomers Ryan and Callum Crowe; son of past race winner and long time lap record holder, Nick. The performance made all the more amazing by them only having one unhindered lap of practice.

Ryan and Callum Crowe, record breaking newcomers.

The Birchalls continued to ease from Holden; both teams taking Waterworks in a fast, flowing sweep. The Crowe brothers were very impressive; fast and bang on the perfect line. With no more slower traffic to contend with they were closing in 5th placed Lewis Blackcock/Patrick Rosney. By the Bungalow they had achieved that aim.

John Holden / Lee Cain.

At the end of the lap the Birchalls led by 14.9s, having lapped at 117.709mph. The first racing lap for the Crowe brothers was at 112.558mph; amazing. The Birchalls were inside the lap record and on for the first 120mph lap until Ramsey, where a +38 board prompted Ben to take advice given to him by John McGuinness and ease back on the revs to save the motor. Despite this they still lapped at 119.129mph; whilst the Crowe bothers upped their speed to 113.529mph.           In the battle of the Founds brothers, Alan had the whip hand; a lap at 116.219mph gave him a 6.2 advantage over Peter.

Alan Founds / Jake Lowther.

The last lap was thankfully without drama; the crews holding station, despite Peter Founds putting in his best lap of the race at 116.435mph. The Birchalls continue to be dominant but will have noted the new kids on the block who are now the fastest ever newcomers and could go yet faster in the second race.

Locate.im Sidecar Race 1

  1. Ben Birchall / Tom Bichall     Haith LCR                                            118.317mph
  2. John Holden / Lee Cain        SBR Honda                                          116.687mph
  3. Alan Founds / Jake Lowther Cloud Vapers Yamaha                            115.738mph
  4. Peter Founds / Jevan Walmsley Rowtec Suzuki                                 115.555mph
  5. Ryan Crowe / Callum Crowe Haven Homes Triumph                          113.142mph
  6. Lewis Blackstock / Patrick Rosney SBR Honda                                   112.208mph

 

Practice for the Lightweight machines followed; this gave fans to opportunity to see the Nortons of McGuinness, Hickman and Todd on track in close company. After a busy session Jamie Coward remained top of the speed charts with his lap from the first practice. Michael Dunlop, Gary Johnson, Lee Johnston, Michael Rutter and Derek McGee improved their speeds to take the final leader board places. The unfortunate Derek McGee will not be on the start line; he had an off at Greeba Castle on his second lao and was flown to Nobles Hospital. It seems that he has cracked a couple of bones in his lower back; hopefully he will make a rapid recovery.

Jamie Coward; fastest in practice.

The final action of the day was the first of the Supersport races. The indications were that this would be a benefit for Dean Harrison who was over 2mph faster than anyone else in practice. second in practice, Peter Hickman and Michael Dunlop; the lap record holder for the class were expected to be the big threats to Harrison. The skies by start time were darkening; cloud was lowering onto Snaefell and temperatures were well down. At the first commentary point at Glen Helen the script was not being followed; James Hillier had scorched there and led by 1.37s from Lee Johnston; winner in this class at the NW200. Lee held a 1.2s advantage over Gary Johnson. Harrison, Jamie Coward and Michael Dunlop filled the leader board places with Peter Hickman in an unaccustomed 7th place. At Ballaugh, Hillier led by 1.6s from Johnston, with Johnson 1s further back. Hickman had got the message and had edged past Dunlop and Coward.

Lee Johnston, winner Supersport Race 1.

A large crowd had gathered at Parliament Square to watch the action in the gathering gloom. The number of empty plastic drinks containers that were dropped by unthinking spectators is a cause for concern. Nobody wants to be a killjoy; but if this continues the organizers may be forced to take action. On track the action was excellent as the gladiators peeled into the tight right hander before powering away through the increasingly bumpy left hander on the exit. Cummins was first through; then Harrison and Hillier. Behind them on the road Johnston was eating into the lead; he was 0.6s behind Hillier as he passed us. The diminutive Johnston set the best sector time on the run to the Bungalow and led by 1.28s as he crossed the tram lines.

James Hillier.

A lap at 126.031mph gave Johnston a lead of 1.989s as he passed the famous scoreboards to begin the second lap. Hillier, 125.799mph, retained second place; with Hickman, 125.577mph now up to third. Johnson, Harrison and Dunlop completed the leader board.

At Glen Helen on lap 2 Johnston had increased his lead to 3.944s from Hillier, who had Hickman just 0.66s behind him. Unbeknown to us; light rain was falling in the western reaches of the course; explaining why the sector times were down on the first lap. At Ballaugh, the lead for Johnston was 0.66s over Hillier who had pulled 3.2s more out of Hickman. It was dry, but very gloomy in Ramsey as the riders drove through for the second time. With just 20s covering the leading 7 riders it seemed that pit stops could play a major part in determining the final positions.

Peter Hickman.

However; as the leading riders reached the final short sector from Cronk ny Mona to the Grandstand; the rain in the west was becoming more organized.  The Clerk of the Course took the wise decision to curtail racing and the chequered flag came out. Johnston blasted across the line to take his maiden TT win by 3.64s from Hiller; who in turn finished 1.33s ahead of Hickman. Harrison, Dunlop and Conor Cummins filled out the leader board. Coward was the best privateer after another fine ride. Freed from the constraints of a works team; the more relaxed Johnston is realizing the potential that has been evident for some considerable time.

Monster Energy Supersport Race 1

  1. Lee Johnston             Ashcourt Yamaha                             126.449mph
  2. James Hillier              Quattro Plant Kawasaki                    126.235mph
  3. Peter Hickman           Trooper Triumph                              126.158mph
  4. Dean Harrison           Silicone Kawasaki                            125.400mph
  5. Michael Dunlop          MD Honda                                      125.218mph
  6. Conor Cummins         Milenco Padgetts Honda                  124.846mph
  7. Gary Johnson            RAF Kawasaki                                 124.760mph
  8. Jamie Coward           Prez Yamaha                                   124.313mph
  9. Davey Todd              Milenco Padgetts Honda                    123.087mph
  10. Ian Hutchinson       Honda                                             122.636mph

Tuesday’s proposed programme has been cancelled due to yet more foul weather; hopefully the remainder of the week will be kinder and majority of the racing programme can be completed; even if in a reduced form.

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