The Senior TT is the blue ribbon event at the Isle of Man TT – it’s the race that every rider wants to win. Don’t let the name fool you, the Senior TT isn’t for riders that are over the hill; in fact, it is the most hard-fought class at the Isle of Man.
Most of the machines on the Senior TT grid are the same as those found in the Superbike TT, but in years passed we have seen specialty bikes built just for the class’s looser set of rules. The last race of the Isle of Man TT fortnight, the Senior TT ends things with a supreme spectacle.
For 2016 though, riders and fans would have to wait a considerable amount of time before the Senior TT would kick off, with the the fog and mist delaying the day’s start considerably. Thankfully the weather gods eventually gave way, and racing commenced. And it was good.
The pace of development on the electric motorcycles at the Isle of Man TT has been astonishing, with each year seeing more and more progress on the lap times from the top teams.
This year, Team Mugen once again is the paddock favorite, with expectations of a 120+ mph lap resting on their shoulders. With two riders capable of such a lap, John McGhinness and Bruce Anstey, a lot of pressure has been on the Mugen squad to continue to raise the bar.
While Mugen has been the paddock favorites, we’ve seen strong showings from the Saroléa bike from Beligum, and Victory’s entry from the USA. Saroléa is in the hunt for a 120 mph lap, while Victory’s goal sees to get past the 115 mph lap marker.
While many thought the podium was set before the TT Zero race was even away, competitors found out the hard way that there is a reason we lineup to go racing, because anything can happen.
The weather is mercurial at the Isle of Man, and it often throws a spanner into the plans for the TT. This year, the weather has been perfect – hot and sunny throughout the practice week, and into the race week. That is of course, until Wednesday, when the fog and ocean mist delayed proceedings by several hours.
This meant that the Monster Energy Supersport TT Race 2 got off to an afternoon start, rather than its planned morning get-off. Thankfully, the modest delay still allowed for a full-day’s racing, and good racing it was.
The RL360º Quantum Superstock TT race features liter-class bikes that are supposed to be closer to what rolls out of a motorcycle dealership, as such, few modifications are allowed to these machines at the Isle of Man TT.
That being said, the Superstock TT bikes have been putting down impressive lap times, nearing the speeds that the Superbike TT machines produce. This is due partially to the plateauing of speeds at the Isle of Man, and also because modern-day superbikes are very stout, even right out of the box.
A good example of this is the “unofficial” outright lap record that Ian Hutchinson set on his superstock BMW S1000RR, but perhaps a better example was during this year’s Superstock TT race, where a new record was not only set, but the 133 mph barrier was broken yet again.
With the big bikes getting the 2016 Isle of Man TT off to a wonderful start, Monday saw the Supersport and Superstock bikes on the Mountain Course for the racing action. Though the machines were different, the same names were the talk of the paddock.
The weather was once again stellar for Race 1 of the Supersport TT, the first match of the 600cc class of machines, and all eyes on the TT course were getting record to see another race record drop. They would not be disappointed.
On Friday, a young man died in a freak crash at the Circuit de Catalunya, and we mourned him. On Saturday, we went through the motions, picking up the rhythm of a normal race weekend, but in a state of mild shock.
On Sunday morning, we remembered Luis Salom, the whole paddock and a circuit full of fans standing in silence, united both in the memory of a bright young talent who take took from us, and in the knowledge that it can happen again.
On Sunday afternoon, we raced, and reminded ourselves of why young men and women risk their lives with the frankly rather futile objective of demonstrating that they can ride in circles on a motorbike faster than anyone else.
“It was difficult to not cry when we were in the minute of silence,” Maverick Viñales reflected on Sunday afternoon. “It was a really difficult race, but I think the best way to remember Luis is racing, and trying to make the best result. I know he will be always with us.”
Marc Márquez felt much the same. “In the end also this Sunday, I liked it was again the atmosphere of the family, the MotoGP family. Because when we were there together on the grid, when we were racing, everybody was racing for Luis. Everybody dedicated the race to Luis.” And what races to dedicate to Luis Salom.
The Moto3 race saw a tense battle go down to the line, and a thrilling finale and a win that had been a long time coming. The Moto2 race became a brawl between two of Salom’s recent rivals, with a masterful display to take victory. And MotoGP produced one of the fiercest duels we have seen in a while, a popular victory, and a shake up in the championship.
It’s been seven perfect days of weather at the Isle of Man TT, which is a rarity for the island nation, which sits in the turbulent Irish Sea. That has boded well for Saturday’s opening race, the RST Superbike TT, as riders have been putting in scorching laps so far this practice week.
All expectations were for a record lap to be set, especially after Ian Hutchinson set an “unofficial” outright lap record the day before during practice, but the question was from whom would the record be broken by officially, as a number of riders were showing good race pace.