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.
On Saturday during the RST Superbike race, Dean Harrison smashed the outright Isle of Man TT lap record with a 134.432 mph lap of Mountain Course. It was the culmination of a long apprenticeship on the roads for the Bradford rider, and having claimed a second career TT victory this week, he’ll be out to impress once again during the Senior TT on Friday. Road racing is in his blood, his father Conrad is a sidecar race-winner, but for Dean the challenge has been to gain the experience to show what he can do on the 37-mile long circuit. That experience has been taking place on the roads, at home studying videos, and racing in the British Superbike Championship to understand more about what it takes to reach the limit of his Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10RR.
Senior Day dawns on the Isle of Man, and this national holiday is far from a day-off for the riders.
With six laps of the fearsome Mountain Course, the top riders will have just over 100 minutes to etch their names in the history books. The list of past winners is a who’s who of road racing, and brings to a close two weeks of helter skelter action at the road racing capital of the world.
Mike Hailwood and John McGuiness are the most successful riders in the history of the Senior, with seven wins apiece, but with only two active riders, Michael Dunlop and Ian Hutchinson, having claimed a win in the blue ribbon race, we could see a new victor added to the 45 names on the winners list.
The sign at the starting line said “conditions excellent” as the Isle of Man provided another perfect arena for motorcycle racing, as Race 2 of the Supersport TT got underway.
With Michael Dunlop setting a 129 mph lap during Race 1, conversations already started about whether we would see a 130 mph lap from the supersport machines, an almost crazy average lap speed to consider from the 600cc machines.
While we wouldn’t see the record books change that entry today, we did see an eventful Supersport TT Race 2 at the Isle of Man TT.
After a thrilling start to race week, today’s action has a lot to live up to. Wednesday’s lineup will offer nine laps of racing across the Supersport, Lightweight, and TT Zero classes.
The trio of Michael Dunlop, Peter Hickman, and Dean Harrison have dominated the week so far, and it’s almost certain that they will once again be the men to beat in the Superport class.
But in the Lightweight class, the likes of Ivan Lintin and a host of others will feel they can contend.
It is a trite thing to talk about the weather, but when you are racing on an island where the weather can drastically change from day-to-day, the weatherman is one of the most popular people (or unpopular, depending on the prediction) during the TT fortnight.
Warm weather during the practice week is key too, as it allows riders to hone their setup, and unsurprisingly the more sunny days we have at the Isle of Man TT, the more records we see fall.
Monday has been another sunny and warm day for the Isle of Man, and so we shouldn’t be too surprised to then see more records written in the history books – this time in Race 1 of the Supersport TT event.
With the sun shining at the Isle of Man TT, the Superstock TT go underway with the fire-breathing superbikes that feature treaded tires and near-showroom specs. That’s right, it’s the RL360 Superstock TT race.
The Superstock TT has been treading on Superbike TT territory for several seasons now, with not very much separating the two bike categories on the course. Chalk this up to the level that production superbikes have achieved, especially with electronics, and the diminish returns that come with horsepower.
With a Saturday’s Superbike TT race showing three big names – Dean Harrison, Peter Hickman, and Michael Dunlop – Monday’s Superstock TT race promised to be a good scrap. As it turned out, TT fans were not disappointed.
Having claimed his 16th Isle of Man TT victory on Saturday, Michael Dunlop will start as the firm favorite when the second day of solo racing begins on Monday.
The Northern Irishman led the way in Supersport and Superstock practice during practice week, and his confidence will be high when he takes to the start line on Glencrutchery Road for the Supersport race.
Riding a self prepared Honda CBR600RR, he comfortably led the way in practice with a 127mph-lap, but he’ll know that winning on Monday will be a much tougher task than his Superbike victory proved to be.
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.