If you ask the racers at the Isle of Man TT which of the nine races they would most like to win, the Senior TT is always the answer. They call it the “blue ribbon” event, and that is because it features the fastest bikes on the grid, racing over a grueling six laps – it also has the largest trophy.
With the TT fortnight acting like a crescendo to Friday’s race, the Senior TT is final cacophony of noise at the Isle of Man, and today’s race was the epitome of that notion.
Once again, the weather smiled upon this tiny island in the Irish Sea, as it has all fortnight. This not only meant a day for perfect racing, but it also meant that racers had two weeks of honing their craft and their machines for the Senior TT race.
Lap times were going to drop; records were going to be broken, and benchmarks were going to be set, which is exactly what you should expect from the Senior TT.
All this being said, I still had my reservations this morning about publishing a story where Dean Harrison said that a 135 mph lap time was a necessity if he wanted to win the Senior TT. Just a few years ago, 135 mph seemed unthinkable. Two weeks ago even, a 135 mph lap seemed too far away.
My apprehension seems to have been unnecessary though, but even that wasn’t immediately clear at the start of The Senior.
It had been talked about all through the Isle of Man TT practice week. Would we see a 134 mph lap during this TT fortnight?
It didn’t take long to get the answer, with Dean Harrison breaking the 134 mph barrier with his opening lap of the Superbike TT race…from a standing start.
With Michael Dunlop and Peter Hickman in tow, it seemed that the podium positions were a lock from the early sector times, but the six laps of the Superbike TT race proved to be a trial of miles for these road-racing gladiators.
There is no greater challenge in motorcycling racing than a superbike race at the Isle of Man TT. Wrestling over 165kg of hulking, brooding machinery around this legendary circuit is a challenge unlike any other.
For today’s RST Superbike race has the potential to be a six lap classic. With stunning weather throughout the week, there’s been plenty of time to get bikes setup, and complete lots of laps on the course, so plenty of riders have already set their fastest ever laps during practice week.
As a result, a group of riders are primed to bring the challenge to Michael Dunlop. The Northern Irishman may be the prohibitive favorite with the bookmakers, but he’s had a difficult practice week.
Above: Glen Irwin is a man fast on the roads and on the short circuits. He won the feature race at last year’s North West 200 and backed that up with a win in Macau. As I write this, he’s just won a race at the North West 200 on his Ducati.
If MotoGP contracts were handed out based solely on the character of a race track, then Oulton Park in England would be at the top of the list.
The city is set in the idyllic Cheshire countryside, only 30 miles from the Beatles hometown of Liverpool, and 13 miles from the historic city of Chester. The track is fast, techinical, with natural elevation changes and spectacular scenery.
There are few finer places to watch motorcycle racing when the sun is shining than at Oulton Park. The natural banking around the track offers great unobstructed views.
If you’re a keen photographer the circuit offers fantastic opportunities with very few fences getting in the way.
Michael Dunlop had a new engine flown in by private jet, and was up till gone 4am on the morning of the race fitting the engine.
Ivan Lintin, the winner of the Lighweight TT, was spectacular over Ballaugh Bridge.
William Dunlop was 2nd in the TT Zero on the Victory.
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.
Ian Hutchinson at the bottom of Barregarrow on his way to winning the Supersport TT race 1.
Monday was not a good day for Michael Dunlop. He was excluded from the Supersport results due to a technical infringement, and failed to finish the Superstock race.
Dean Harrison finished on the podium in both races.
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.
Since my last update from the Isle of Man TT, the sun has continued to shine and the speeds have continued to rise. After spending Tuesday evening in and around the paddock, I headed out to the K-Tree, just outside Ramsey, for Wednesday’s practice.
Also known as Lezayre Church or the Conkerfields, the K-Tree has become very popular in recent years. Some of the most spectacular slow motion footage from the last few years has been filmed there.
For your viewing pleasure, I’ve also included in this post a selection from Tuesday evening’s session in the paddock. Above: James Hillier on the back wheel at the K-Tree.
Practice for the 2016 Isle of Man TT got underway on Saturday evening and continued on Monday. Both sessions ran under beautiful conditions on the Isle of Sun, at least it’s the Isle of Sun for now.
I spent Saturday evening around 7 miles from the start at the Greeba Castle section. I’m lucky to still be here after being eaten alive by midges.
Monday evening was spent in the sun on the mountain at Guthrie’s and the 27th Milestone. Thankfully the midges weren’t a problem, but I did have to chase away a pheasant that had popped along for a look.
Above, you will find Dean Harrison on his Superstock Kawasaki at Guthrie’s Memorial.
When it comes to real road racing, the boys on Hondas are always the short-list of whom to beat. Gearing up for the North West 200 this weekend and the rapidly approaching Isle of Man TT, the road racing season is firmly upon us.
Never mind circuits and race tracks, these guys let it all hang out on public roads, with speeds approaching and surpassing 200 mph on some courses. Make no mistake, this is risky business.
Mental preparedness and track knowledge are key, but that doesn’t mean that machine shakedowns are unnecessary. Although the Honda CBR1000RR racing package hasn’t changed much over its eight years of use, HRC has been able to refine the Fireblade to be a keen, and more importantly, a reliable weapon on the roads.
This year, John McGuinness and Conor Cummins will wear the factory HRC livery, as they take on the other top riders. Honda has put together a quick video of the two racers, with their thoughts on the 2015 season. Check it out after the jump.