The Lightweight TT each year proves itself to be one of the most popular classes at the Isle of Man TT. Originally conceived as a three-lap race, where pit stop strategy added to the intrigue, the “junior” class is now a four-lap affair.
Designed to be a proving ground for younger riders, now we see the big names in the class as well, with Ian Hutchinson, Michael Dunlop, Peter Hickman and others testing their mettle on the 650cc twin-cylinder bikes.
The final race on Wednesday, TT fans were treated to a strong race, which had several lead changes, and plenty of lap records.
Out of the gate, a new name surprised from all the way back from 15th through the starting gate – it was Derek McGee. Holding a narrow gap over Ivan Lintin, McGee’s lead on Lap 1 would be short-lived, but he refused to quit, clinging to the leaders throughout the lap.
Michael Dunlop would briefly supplant McGee for second place on Lap 1 on his Paton, but McGee answered back over the mountain with his Kawasaki. Crossing the starting line, Lintin had cemented his overall lead, but McGee and Dunlop continued to battle.
Breaking the Lightweight TT record, from a standing start no less, Lintin posted a 121.603 mph lap, with Dunlop and McGee also under the old record.
By Glen Helen on the second lap though, Dunlop would take a solid position over McGee. As such, the podium seemed set until Lintin went missing at the Grandstand for the start of Lap 3 – the Kawasaki rider having to retire at Bedstead, giving up a nine-second lead in the process.
With all the riders pitting at the start of the third lap, the order shuffled again, with McGee moving ahead of Dunlop. He would carry that lead through Glen Helen, but with each passing station, see lead slipping away.
Dunlop would finally catch McGee at Ramsey, and never look back. Holding the pace through the final two laps, Michael Dunlop would end the day on a high note, with a new Lightweight TT record – 122.750 mph – set on the final lap of the race (the only true flying lap).
Rounding out the podium would be Michael Rutter, who had engaged in a tough battle for fourth with James Cowton, Peter Hickman, and Stefano Bonetti. With Lintin, Cowton, and Hickman all having to retire mid-race, Rutter won the race of attrition on his Paton
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Be sure to follow all of our 2018 Isle of Man TT racing coverage this fortnight.