Michael Dunlop shattered his own outright lap record in Friday’s Pokerstars Senior TT, the final race of the 2016 Isle of Man TT Races
The Hawk Racing BMW rider lapped at 133.962mph on his way to his 13th TT victory. In a repeat of Saturday’s RST Superbike race, Dunlop got the better of Ian Hutchinson and John McGuinness with his eventual winning margin a commanding 31.4s.
With morning delays, the race finally got underway at 3.45pm and at Glen Helen on the first lap, Dunlop had already established a healthy 1.8s lead over Hutchinson with Harrison a further 1.6s behind in third as Lee Johnston, Gary Johnson and Peter Hickman rounded out the top six, just six seconds covering the top ten.
Dunlop was really pressing on but having doubled his lead by the time they jumped Ballaugh Bridge, Hutchinson had reduced it again at Ramsey to 2.9s while Johnson moved up to third ahead of Hickman, Bruce Anstey and Dean Harrison.
With an opening lap speed of 133.256mph, Dunlop led Hutchinson by 2.8s with the leaderboard places behind the leading pair constantly changing. Hickman had moved into third, eight seconds down on Hutchinson, with fourth to sixth now seeing Anstey, Johnson and Harrison occupying the places.
Hutchinson grabbed the lead on the road on the second lap but he was unable to make any inroads into Dunlop’s time and all the way round the lap, the Ulsterman’s advantage grew. Indeed, with yet another new outright lap record of 133.962mph, Dunlop led his BMW rival by a commanding 9.2s as they made their first pit stop at the end of the lap.
There was change further behind though as Anstey moved up to third, albeit almost 26 seconds behind Hutchinson, after Hickman retired at Brandywell. John McGuinness, down in ninth at the end of the first lap, had jumped up the order to fourth with Harrison in fifth and Johnson now in sixth.
The pit stops saw Dunlop and Hutchinson maintain their first and second place positions but McGuinness’ crew again worked wonders and that helped him take over third by the time he reached Glen Helen on lap three, with the Morecambe man now some 6.7s clear of Anstey. Johnson’s good run ended though with a retirement at Appledene while David Johnson slid off the Norton at Sulby Bridge after posting a 130mph lap on his opening lap.
At half race distance, Dunlop had stretched out his lead slightly to 11.2s and now almost had Hutchinson in his sights on the road. McGuinness had also pulled away from Anstey with the difference between the two Honda riders having gone out to 11.8s. Harrison was holding station in fifth with Conor Cummins moving up to sixth.
Coming into the second pit stop and two-thirds race distance at the end of lap four, Dunlop still didn’t have full control of the race as the gap was still only 10.6s. Hutchinson and McGuinness were circulating on the road together and looked secure in second and third with the lower leaderboard places also becoming more settled, Anstey, Harrison and Cummins still occupying fourth to sixth.
Dunlop’s team got him in and out quicker than Hutchinson and his lead grew by an additional five seconds. Indeed, he now had him firmly in his sights on the roads and was able to ride accordingly for the final lap and a half, eventually overhauling both Hutchinson and McGuinness on the road too.
He eventually took the chequered flag from Hutchinson by over twenty seconds with McGuinness taking his 46th TT podium in third. Harrison grabbed hold of fourth on the penultimate lap from Anstey as Cummins, Rutter, Johnston, James Hillier and Ivan Lintin rounded out the top ten.
The results saw Hutchinson end with 115 points to be a comfortable winner of the Joey Dunlop TT Championship with Harrison second on 80 and Dunlop third with 70.
Meanwhile, Dan Hegarty was the first privateer to finish in an excellent 11th and that saw him clinch the TT Privateer’s Championship with 91 points to Jamie Coward’s 72.
PokerStars Senior TT press photo: John McGuinness’s front wheel paws the air as he blasts down Bray Hill