DUNLOP TAKES FIRST WIN OF TT IN MONSTER ENERGY SUPERSPORT TT RACE 1
Michael Dunlop got race week underway at the Isle of Man TT Races with victory in the opening Monster Energy Supersport TT Race, his tenth victory in the class and 22nd in total.
Riding the MD Racing Yamaha, Dunlop grabbed the lead at Ballaugh on lap one and was never headed, eventually winning with a race record time by 12.3seconds with Peter Hickman (K2 Trooper Beer Triumph) getting the better of Dean Harrison (BPE by Russell Racing Yamaha) for second, the gap between the two at the end of four laps just 0.394s.
With superb conditions again all-round the Mountain Course, Harrison led through Glen Helen on lap one, his advantage over Dunlop half a second with Hickman a further second back in third. Davey Todd (Milenco by Padgett’s Motorcycles Honda) was another seven tenths of a second back with Harrison’s team-mate James Hillier two tenths adrift of the Honda rider.
Jamie Coward (KTS Racing powered by Steadplan Yamaha) rounded out the early top six with 3.4s covering the top six riders but Mike Browne was a non-starter having blown an engine in the earlier warm-up lap.
Dunlop nosed ahead on the run to Ballaugh with his advantage over Harrison now 1.5 seconds with a similar distance back to Hickman. Coward had moved up to fourth though having overhauled both Todd and Hillier. Behind them, James Hind and Craig Neve were going well in seventh and eighth.
The lead had stretched to 3.6 seconds at Ramsey and the gap widened as Dunlop went up and over Snaefell Mountain, an opening lap of 128.305mph giving him a 5.4s advantage over Harrison. Hickman remained in third but was now 4.6 seconds adrift of Harrison although he was holding a similar gap over fourth-placed Coward.
Todd and Hillier were locked in battle for fifth with Hind still in seventh but there was change further back with Paul Jordan up to eighth ahead of Rob Hodson and David Johnson.
Lap two and Harrison continued to lead on the road, but he was continually losing ground to Dunlop, the gap at Glen Helen up to 7.3 seconds. Dunlop had also overtaken Coward so had clear track ahead of him and had Harrison firmly in his sights. Third to sixth remained the same but Jordan had now got ahead of Hind for seventh.
Dunlop continued to extend his lead throughout the second lap and as he came into the pits for fuel, an improved lap speed of 129.136mph gave him a healthy 13.4s advantage. Harrison, in turn, was only 8.6s clear of Hickman with Coward still in contention for a podium position as he sat just 6.2 seconds adrift.
Todd and Hillier were still running in fifth and sixth with Jordan in seventh but Hodson and Johnson both moved up a place as Hind was hit with a 30 second penalty for speeding in pit lane, the youngster dropping out of the top ten because of the indiscretion.
After the fuel stop, Harrison cut Dunlop’s lead by two seconds on the third run to Glen Helen with Coward losing time at the pits and falling into the clutches of Todd, the gap between them now down to two seconds.
Back at the front and Dunlop quickly reasserted himself back in the race and going into the fourth and final lap, his lead stood at 17.5s. With a comfortable advantage, all eyes fell on the battle for second with Hickman cutting the gap to Harrison to just 3.9 seconds. Coward, meanwhile, had edged away from Todd once more to the tune of 5.3 seconds with Hillier in a safe sixth.
With a healthy margin, Dunlop was able to ride to his signals on the final lap and duly took the chequered flag for yet another TT victory, but Hickman closed in on Harrison throughout the lap and finally got the better of him on the one-mile dash from Cronk ny Mona to the Grandstand, aided by a 129mph+ lap.
Coward saw off the challenge of Todd to take a fine fourth with Hillier in sixth ahead of Jordan, Johnson, Hodson and Hind who recovered from his penalty to take tenth. Local rider Ryan Cringle was the best newcomer in 22nd after lapping at 120.364mph on his final lap.