Racing for the 2017 Isle of Man TT finally got underway on Sunday, with the RST Superbike TT (often called the “Junior TT” by regulars, in contrast to the final Senior TT of the fortnight) getting underway.
The race framed an important narrative for this year’s TT, pitting Ian Hutchinson and Michael Dunlop against each other.
With Hutchinson on the race-proven BMW S1000RR, the question marks go to Dunlop, as he campaigns this year’s big-bike races on the new Suzuki GSX-R1000R superbike. So far in the practice sessions, both riders have shown considerable pace.
Sunday’s honors would go to Ian Hutchinson however, with the Tyco BMW rider taking his 15th race victory at the Isle of Man TT. Hutchinson won with a convincing five-second lead over Peter Hickman, who made a surge in the final lap to close the time to Hutchinson.
They were followed by Dean Harrison, who lead the Superbike TT in many of the opening timing sectors. It was James Hillier who lead out of the gate though, but Harrison took over at the Ramsey Hairpin, with Dunlop in third.
Unfortunately, the opening lap claimed the entry of Guy Martin, who crashed at Doran’s Bend without injury. The crash however would lead to Martin withdrawing from Monday’s Supersport TT Race 1.
At the Bungalow, Michael Dunlop took over, on his way to posting a 131.135 mph lap, and leading Dean Harrison by 1.8 seconds, followed by Hillier, Hutchinson, and Hickman.
Dunlop’s pace would continue through the second lap, but he would have to retire the Bennetts Suzuki GSX-R1000R at Handley’s, giving up a 5.3-second lead over Hillier in the process.
At Ramsey, Ian Hutchinson was making his moves, and slotted into second place, chasing Dean Harrison. Hutchinson would catch Harrison at the halfway mark of the race, with only 10.5 seconds covering the Top 4 riders.
On Lap 4, Hutchinson and Harrison would swap the lead again at Glen Helen, and once more at Ramsey. Hutchinson would make good progress coming over the Mountain Section though, arriving with a four-second lead as he came into the pits after Lap 4, over Hickman who had moved into second as well.
At the end of the pit stops, Hutchinson lead by 10 seconds over Hickman, with Hillier back into third place as Harrison lost even more time.
Going into the final lap, Hutchinson led Hickman by nearly eight seconds at Glen Helen, but by Ballaugh that lead had dropped to 2.5 seconds. During this, Harrison moved into third place, as Hillier experienced fuel problems.
Meanwhile, Hickman continued to press into Hutchinson’s lead, with only 1.6 seconds separating the two at the Ramsey Hairpin. Hutchinson would do a 130.738 mph lap, finishing five seconds ahead of Hickman, who did his own impressive 131.103 mph final lap.
That duo would be followed by Harrison, Hillier, Kneen, Rutter, Johnson, Brookes, William Dunlop, and Jessopp for the Top 10 results. Horst Saiger was the first privateer home in 11th ahead of Sam West (12th) and Philip Crowe (14th).
Unfortunately during the race, Davey Lambert was involved in an accident at Greeba Castle. He was taken to hospital where his condition is described as “critical” at the time of this writing, as he sustained multiple injuries. We hope for his full and speedy recovery.
Source: IOMTT; Photo: © 2017 Tony Goldsmith / www.tonygoldsmith.net – All Rights Reserved
Be sure to follow all of our 2017 Isle of Man TT racing coverage this fortnight.