Isle of Man TT winners were the stars of the show at the latest round of the British championships, with John McGuinness and Steve Plater taking dramatic victories.
The pair were involved two of the most thrilling races at Sunday’s meeting at the Croft circuit, with Plater being named Eurosport Rider of the Day by commentator and former racer James Whitham.
Senior TT winner Plater was determined to defend his slim lead in the British Supersport Championship, but poor qualifying left him on the third row while title rival Billy McConnell started from pole position.
However, the two-time winner around the famous Mountain Circuit put in the ride of the day to battle his way up the field.
The Woodhall Spa rider moved up to seventh at the start and seemed set to stay in that place while McConnell headed victory. The safety car came out on lap six, allowing the field to close up and when it pulled back in Plater began a scintillating ride through the field. On lap 11 he was up to sixth, snatched fifth from Dan Cooper on lap 12 and on lap 13 powered past Dan Linfoot and McConnell to move up to third.
Many thought that with his main championship rival behind him, Plater might cut his pace and ride for the points – but nothing could be further from the truth.
On lap 15 he forced his way past Ben Wilson and then hunted down race leader James Westmoreland.
On the penultimate lap the HM Plant Honda rider scythed past Westmoreland to take the lead, while McConnell moved up to second. McConnell battled hard, but Plater’s speed and tight lines ensured there was no way past. And he took victory by two tenths of a second.
After looking like losing his two point advantage in the championship, Plater left Croft seven points ahead. There are still two rounds to race, and 50 points up for grabs, so it is all still to play for.
Speaking straight after taking victory, Plater said:
‘I wasn’t really happy even after this morning’s warm up. We have had some issues and even in the race had problems in the same kind of places. We were given some advice from one or two of the other Honda teams as to what settings they were using, but in the end decided to go with what we knew and not to take any big risks.’
‘I changed to a harder rear tyre because the temperature had dropped right off from yesterday so it wasn’t quite so good in the first five or six laps. But I bided my time and after the pace car went in I decided it was time to rock and roll!’
‘I knew what I had to do and I watching and looking to see what everybody else was doing. They were fighting between themselves and I knew what I wanted and where I was to attack. Croft is a place where you have to plan your moves four corners beforehand so I had to keep that in my mind and put the passes in where I knew I could make them count.’
While Plater was out on track, McGuinness was still celebrating an unexpected, but thoroughly deserved victory – his first short circuit win since 2001.
The 15-times TT winner and outright lap record holder around the Mountain course qualified in third place for the National Superstock 1000 Championship race on his Padgett’s Honda.
It was one of the most sensational races in the series, especially coming at round 10 of a season in which only Alistair Seeley has claimed victory.
McGuinness, who was teammates with Plater at HM Plant Honda during the 2009 TT, was in the mix throughout the 15-lap race, although the battle for victory looked set to be between his Padgett’s teammate Steve Brogan and Seeley.
While the leading pair traded blows, the vastly experienced McGuinness kept a watching brief, prepared to take advantage of any mistakes up ahead.
Sure enough, going into the final hairpin on the last lap, Seeley and Brogan touched and ran wide, opening up a gap which let McGuinness slice through for victory.
The Morecambe star said:
‘What a race. I was right behind Steve and Alistair for the whole race and just watched in amazement as things unfolded between them. Talk about not giving an inch - those two weren't giving each other even a millimetre!’
‘It’s such a shame for Steve, but I knew when they both ran wide I had an open door so just took it. This is my first short circuit race win in eight years and feels amazing. Honda and Padgett’s have shown great faith in my over the years and I’m chuffed to be able to give them a top step of the rostrum.’