IoM TT: Michael Dunlop equals Hailwoods record with Supersport race victory
Ballymoney’s Michael Dunlop scorched to a 13 second win in Monday’s first Monster Supersport race on his MD Racing Yamaha, taking the chequered flag ahead of James Hillier with Peter Hickman taking his second podium in a row after his runner-up spot in the Superbike race.
However, multiple Supersport winner Ian Hutchinson had a shocker on the 2017 McAMS Yamaha and could only finish in fifth place, losing 20 seconds to Dunlop over the final lap with a 124.101mph lap compared to Dunlop’s 126.543 mph lap.
Dunlop is now equal with Mike Hailwood on 14 wins and is now just one behind fierce rival Hutchinson on the all-time winners list.
JG Speedfit Kawasaki’s Hillier was fastest from the start in Douglas, leading William Dunlop at Glen Helen with Michael Dunlop, Gary Johnson and Dean Harrison all covered by less than two seconds.
Michael leapt into second place at Ballaugh, closing Hillier down to less than half a second. The Bournemouth man passed Bruce Anstey to lead on the road before Ramsey and the gap remained at half a second at the end of lap one as Ian Hutchinson crept into sixth place.
At Glen Helen on lap two, Dunlop had stolen the lead by 1.884 seconds from Hillier with William Dunlop third, 5.430 seconds back with Johnson, Hutchinson and now Peter Hickman in sixth, with Dean Harrison retiring at Ballacraine. Hickman leapfrogged both Hutchison and Johnson for fourth place at Ramsey after Johnson had a slow sector from Ballaugh Bridge.
Dunlop slowly pulled out his lead over Hillier and with a 126.015mph lap into the first pit stop; it was a 2.493 second lead at the end of lap two at the pits. Hillier put in a 125.678 mph with the rest in the 124mph bracket.
A good stop from the JG team saw Hillier claw the gap back to 1.887 seconds at Glen Helen as Dan Kneen received a penalty for speeding in the pitlane to add to the one he got yesterday and that dropped him from sixth down to 12th.
Dunlop really put the hammer down on lap three, increasing his lead to a little over six seconds at Ramsey while Hickman passed William Dunlop for third place on the run to the Bungalow. At the Grandstand his advantage was more than three seconds.
On the final lap, Dunlop was three seconds faster than Hillier to Glen Helen. As Hutchinson went backwards in terms of time, Hickman chopped his deficit to Hillier from 20 seconds at Glen Helen to 12 seconds at the Grandstand with a fastest lap of the race of 126.756 mph on the Trooper Beer Triumph, giving Hickman a second podium podium.
William Dunlop ended in fourth place with Hutchinson fifth and Johnson sixth. Anstey ended in seventh while Kneen came back to eighth. Conor Cummins finished in ninth with Jamie Cowton tenth.
Speaking after the presentations Michael said “I made a bit of a slow start and maybe used the wrong rear tyre so when I saw P4, I decided it was time to up the ante,” I realised it was James who was leading at the pit stop and fair play to him he was setting a good pace so I had a real good go on lap three which gave me the gap I needed. I rolled it off on the last lap and saved what we had to bring it home.
The chassis was moving around a bit to begin with and the bike was a bit nervous, which isn’t usually like a 600 but once I had that cushion, I was extra careful with the gear changes and it’s great to be back on the top step. I’ve been off the boil on the 600s for a couple of years so it makes up for the disappointment of the Superbike race.
We nearly made the impossible possible yesterday and we honestly don’t know yet what the problem was. The bike was great straight out the blocks but it just stopped on the second lap. Stuart (Hicken) is looking at the engine and I was down in the mouth yesterday so it’s good to get the week back on track.”
Images by Glynne Lewis
Words by John Mushet