Trackside Tuesday: Anstey Ups the Ante

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Now the dust has begun to settle on this year’s Tourist Trophy, the obvious headlines are taking up most of the page space in the motorcycle press. Michael Dunlop’s quadruple wins, John McGuinness’ hand injury issues, Dave Molyneux’s 17th victory, and any potential speculation and hearsay that they believe print-worthy dominates the news.

After an interrupted week of practice, due to weather and on-course incidents, Michael Dunlop laid his intentions down for all to see by breaking McGuinness’ long-standing lap record on the first two laps of the race at 131.730mph and 131.810mph.

Riding the Superbike-spec BMW S1000RR that was deemed to be the unknown element in Dunlop’s fortnight-long campaign at the TT, Michael broke his rivals and silenced the doubters before he had even completed his first pit stop. These laps bettered the lap record that had stood since John McGuinness set the marker of 131.671 mph during the 2013 Senior race.

While much of the focus was on Michael’s cruise to victory over Guy Martin and Connor Cummins, Bruce Anstey was wrestling his way to the fastest-ever lap of the Mountain Course by bettering Dunlop’s freshly-set lap record by over three seconds.

It doesn’t sound like a huge margin over 37.733 miles of racing, but it was the first (and only) lap to break the 132mph barrier. This lap was also completed after Bruce had already ridden five laps at an average speed of over 126mph for just shy of an hour and a half.

This might come across as a lot of figures to try and take on board, but imagine jumping onto your bike (or even getting into your car) and driving down the Highway at 120mph for that length of time. I can imagine this would take quite a bit of concentration despite it essentially being a straightforward cruise with the odd steady curve.

Think about a trip with the same average speed on a route with over 200 apexes to clip, a vast number of gear changes, and a top speed of around 190mph, then you can practically hear your brain starting to fry itself at the mere thought.

It’s now almost 60 years since Bob McIntyre passed the 100mph barrier on a 500cc factory Gilera for the first-ever time on the Mountain Course. The lap records have since fallen at a steady, but declining rate.

Ever-improving suspension, increasingly powerful engines, advancing tire technology, and other technological improvements have allowed for better lap times, but records are only broken by fractions of a second in this modern era.

Dunlop’s disappointment in parc ferme was clear to see after the race when he was informed that Bruce had taken his lap record, so it might only stand for a year if Michael has his way.

Whoever breaks Anstey’s mark will certainly have to put together a nigh-on perfect lap, but there is definitely room for improvement, as Bruce ran wide at Creg-ny-Baa and lost a few seconds in the process because he ran so deep into the corner.

With racing legends such as Hailwood, Hennen, Dunlop, and Hislop passing milestones and breaking records on the course over the years, Anstey has certainly left his mark on the record books, but for how long?

Photo: © 2014 Richard Mushet / Mushet Photo – All Rights Reserved

Richard Mushet is a British photographer who has been known to cover motorcycle racing in it’s many forms. You can view his site here, and follow his Facebook page for more frequent updates over here: MushetPhoto.