Bikes were finally back on track at the Isle of Man TT! A sigh of relief was heard around the island when the weather gods played ball for final practice before races get underway at TT 2019.
Last year’s Isle of TT was historic. The lap record was broken in every class and Peter Hickman became the first rider to smash through the 135mph barrier. It was a stunning TT, where riders enjoyed the fruits of an Indian Summer on the island.
With practice week in perfect conditions last year, they were able to get as many miles under their belts as they deemed enough to do. It was perfect. It was bliss. It was, unfortunately, too good to be true for 2019.
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.
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.
If you took a straw poll from road racers, the Ballagarey corner would likely rank highest on the list of places found on the Isle of Man TT race course that scared these otherwise two-wheeled warriors.
The corner has such a reputation, that the name “Balla-Scary” has been coined to describe this fast section of the track, situated between the 3rd and 4th milestones. In 2010, Ballagarey claimed the life of racer Paul Dobbs, and a day later Guy Martin escaped a fiery crash there as well.
While every TT rider surely knows the reputation of Ballagarey, at this year’s Isle of Man TT, it was James Hillier who found a new respect for that part of the Mountain Course, having a huge moment on his Kawasaki superbike, during the Senior TT race. You can watch this miracle save, after the jump.
Monday’s racing action at the 2017 Isle of Man TT saw the supersport machines taking to the Mountain Course, for the four laps of the Monster Energy Supersport TT Race 1. Despite the change in the machinery, the narrative remained focused on two men: Ian Hutchinson and Michael Dunlop.
With Hutchinson already taking the honors in the opening Superbike TT, the question remained whether Dunlop would respond on the 600cc machines – a class where he typically goes quite well around the TT course.
The was a resounding yes, with Michael Dunlop taking Race 1 of the Supersport TT in a convincing fashion, making this his 14th Isle of Man TT race victory.
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.
John McGuinness claimed his 46th TT podium, with a 3rd place in the Senior TT.
Ben & Tom Birchall at Signpost Corner, on their way to victory in the Sidecar TT Race 2.
Bruce Anstey at Braddan Bridge.
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.
Last to go on Wednesday for the Isle of Man TT, the Bennetts Lightweight TT features “super twin” four-stroke machines, of up to 650cc in displacement.
The weapon of choice in the class has been the Kawasaki Ninja 650, but that is slowly changing. Gary Johnson, for instance, has made a good show of things with the Chinese CF Moto.
Though any rider can compete in the Lightweight TT category, the class is seen by many as a stepping stone onto a supersport or bigger bike. As such, many of the TT’s upcoming stars feature in the Lightweight TT.
A four-lap race this year, the Lightweight TT in the past has been a three-lap contest, which brought a bit of strategy into play on when to take a pit stop. Now four laps, that intrigue has been removed, but given riders a more difficult contest on machines not designed for racing.
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.