The weather reared it’s ugly head again for the Isle of Man TT, this time showcasing the island’s unusual propensity for microclimates. While the lowlands baked in the sun (yes, this author got a nice sunburn on Friday), the Mountain saw rain clouds, standing water, and even hail at one point. This caused the main event of the fortnight, the Senior TT, to be delayed for several hours, which put-off many of the sun-blasted fans, but by the time the final TT race got underway, it was under perfect Manx afternoon conditions.
With all of the top riders showing to be in top form for the 2011 TT, good bets could have been placed on any of them. John McGuinness looked again on form after last week’s Dainese Superbike TT race win, noticeable more comfortable in the paddock. Contrast that with Guy Martin, who always a bridesmaid and never a bride, had just one more opportunity in the 2011 Isle of Man TT to find his first ever race win. With eyes on them, and the other top riders, the Pokerstars Senior TT got underway.
Starting third, it was Guy Martin who lead going through the first time checkpoint, exciting fans at the possibility of seeing the popular rider’s first every Isle of Man TT race win. Completing the first lap, Guy was leading Bruce Anstey by four and a half seconds, Martin also held a seven second lead over King of the Mountain John McGuinness. In fourth was Supersport Race 2 winner Gary Johnson (+11.7 seconds), and fifth was Superstock winner Michael Dunlop (+16.5 seconds)
Martin would maintain his lead all the way through the second lap, though John McGuinness was clearly on a surge, lapping a second and a half quicker than both Martin and Anstey. This put McGuinness only a second behind Anstey, who in-turn was four seconds off Guy Martin. Michael Dunlop moved up into fourth, well removed from the front group, and 30 seconds behind. He was followed five seconds later by Keith Amor.
McGuinness continued his pace through the third lap, and with a quick pit stop was past Guy Martin with a two and a half second lead. Martin also saw his lead over Bruce Anstey lessen, as rider from New Zealand claimed back another second to be only three seconds bike from Martin’s Relentless Suzuki. Trailing in fourth and fifth were still Michael Dunlop and Keith Amor, who were 44 seconds back from McGuinness, but within 0.40 seconds of each other.
Through the fourth lap, McGuinness continued his lead, putting a race total of 12.7 seconds between him and Guy Martin. Martin was clearly slowing though, as Bruce Anstey moved into second, just 0.30 second ahead of Martin. With Michael Dunlop dropping to sixth, it was Keith Amor in fourth (+64 seconds), and Cameron Donald in fifth (+65 seconds).
In the fifth lap, the order remained, sans one Guy Martin who finally answered the challenge set forth by John McGuinness. Moving into second place by the fifth lap, Martin was behind McGuinness by 13 seconds. With the gap being too large, and Martin coming back-on too little too late, John McGuinness finished the race with a comfortable eight second lead over Martin, setting a new total race record of 1:45’45.8s in the process, along with his 17th Isle of Man TT race win. Coming in third was Bruce Anstey, 15 seconds back, while Cameron Donald (+51 seconds) and Keith Amor (+ 52 seconds) battle for a great finish and rounded out the Top 5.
The first privateer to finish was also the best newcomer to the Isle of Man TT. Simon Andrews took a 11th place finish, and also posted a 125mph+ lap time, which was the second fastest ever lap by a TT rookie.