John McGuinness took his 20th Isle of Man TT race victory on Friday when he won the Pokerstars Senior race by 10 seconds from team-mate Michael Dunlop, to make it a record 41 podiums in total. Bruce Anstey took third place, and set the fastest lap of the race at 131.531mph, as he got the better of Lightweight TT race winner James Hillier by 0.978s on the final run down the Mountain.
After the initial race was red flagged due to an incident at Bray Hill involving rider Jonathan Howarth in which 10 spectators were injured, the race got underway at 4:30pm and the first few laps were nothing short of superb as the gaps between the leading riders were minimal. It was Gary Johnson who grabbed the lead at Glen Helen by 0.5s from William Dunlop with Michael Dunlop just 0.05s further back. Michael Rutter slotted into fourth as McGuinness found himself down in fifth.
It was all change at Ramsey though as Michael Dunlop hit the front for the first time, Johnson now second and McGuinness third. At the end of the lap, the order was Dunlop leading from McGuinness, Johnson, Rutter and Guy Martin.
McGuinness began to make his move on the second lap and, after edging ahead by just five hundredths of a second at Ballaugh, he completed his second lap at 131.272mph to open up a 2.4s lead. Dunlop was 4.8s ahead of Martin with Anstey up to fourth and ahead of Rutter as Johnson was forced to retire with a broken foot assembly.
Another slick pit stop by McGuinness’ Honda TT Legends crew saw him leave the pits with a bigger lead but by Glen Helen the gap was down to half a second although McGuinness had doubled this by Ramsey. It was nip and tuck all the way and at half race distance there was two seconds between the duo, Anstey in third ahead of Martin and Hillier, who had relegated Rutter to sixth.
On the fourth lap, McGuiness appeared to have broken Dunlop slightly and, for the first time, his lead increased the whole way round. Leading on the road with Hillier right in his wheeltracks, the pair lapped at over 131mph as they came into their second pit stop and while it allowed McGuinness to go seven seconds clear of Dunlop, it also allowed Hillier to not only move up to fourth but also close up on Anstey.
Fifth time around and McGuinness’ lead crept up to the 10-second mark, Hillier continued to have a great education behind the current King of the Mountain while the thousands of fans around the track were also being treated to an on-track duel between Anstey and Donald. McGuinness and Dunlop looked safe but third place was anyone’s and as the riders headed into their sixth and final lap, Hillier had nosed ahead albeit by the tiny margin of 0.16s!
The final lap saw the leading four riders all lap in excess of 131mph, Hillier and Anstey both setting personal best laps, but it was McGuinness who was celebrating the most as he took his 20th TT win, and his 41st podium, by 10.1s.
“It feels absolutely fantastic to win today and if there’s one race to win, it’s the Senior,” McGuinness said. “I’ve had a good week but a win’s escaped me so do it today with the sun shining and thousands of fans waving me all the way is brilliant. The conditions were incredible, the bike was fantastic and with two superb pit stops we got the job done. I still feel really sharp and I hit all my apexes on the final lap so with a Honda 1-2-3, the job’s a dream.”
Dunlop ended his phenomenal week with a second place and, in a thrilling last lap Anstey set the fastest lap of the race, 131.531mph, to get the better of Hillier for third.
“It was a good, enjoyable race and John rode lovely so fair play to him,” Dunlop said. “I had him in sight early on and there wasn’t much between us but I got held up a bit by backmarkers, catching them at the wrong times, and I lost a bit of time there and at the pit stops. No excuses though, the bike was mint and I’m going home with four wins and a second place so I can’t complain with how my week’s gone.”
Martin took fifth with Rutter in sixth. William Dunlop took seventh from Dean Harrison and Dan Stewart with Australian David Johnson securing his best TT result in 10th.
MIchael Dunlop will be awarded the Joey Dunlop TT Championship Trophy. With wins in the Dainese Superbike, both Monster Energy Supersport races and the Royal London 360 Superstock race, the 24-year-old Dunlop had an unassailable lead in the 2013 TT Championship before the PokerStars Senior TT.
The Joey Dunlop Trophy is awarded to the overall champion, based on a World Championship points system, across the Solo classes, excluding the SES TT Zero and Bikesocial.co.uk Lightweight races.
The Senior TT race was delayed by 3 1/2 hours following the incident on Bray Hill.The Race organizers issued the following statement:
“ACU Events Ltd can confirm that 10 spectators were injured during an incident in the Senior TT Race. The rider Jonathan Howarth sustained a minor fracture. The race was red flagged and emergency services were immediately in attendance at the scene.
“The 10 spectators and the rider were taken to hospital with injuries ranging from slight to serious but not life threatening. Four of the spectators have been discharged, five of the injured have been kept in hospital and one remains under observation in the emergency department.”
Hillier won a record-breaking bikesocial.co.uk Lightweight TT, with the Quattro Plant Kawasaki rider smashing the lap and race records on his way to a maiden TT victory. The 28-year old broke the old lap record on each of the three laps with his final lap speed of 119.130mph giving him a 33.5s margin over Dean Harrison, who took his debut podium in second with Conor Cummins in third.
–From Isle of Man TT & Honda TT Legends