Dunlop takes Superbike Classic TT win
After three excellent races the scene was set for the climax of the 2016 Classic TT Races presented by Bennetts – the four lap Motorsport Merchandise Superbike Race.
Michael Dunlop, riding Steve Wheatman’s Team Classic Suzuki XR69, didn’t disappoint the huge crowd lining the Mountain Course with the 13 time TT Race winner thrilling the fans with a new lap and race record to win his second race of the day after his victory in this morning’s Okells Junior Classic TT Race.
After the race an elated Michael Dunlop shared just how hard he had worked to win:
“It was really hard but I kept at it. The big girl was working really well. I’ve got to thank Steve Wheatman and the boys for that. People don’t understand how hard it is to ride that. Realistically it is hard work and the bike is a pig but it’s my pig!”
Clerk of the Course Gary Thompson described conditions as excellent, as they had been all week, with the exception being damp patches on the exit of Laurel Bank.
Steve Mercer, fresh from competing at the World Endurance Championship 8 hour at Oschersleben, was first away on the Mistral Racing Kawasaki at the scheduled 2pm start time, under the watchful eye of GP Racer and 3-time TT Race winner Graeme Crosby who started the race.
James Hillier, riding the Greenall Racing Kawasaki, passed Mercer on the road and was first to Glen Helen but was quickly overtaken on the clock by Michael Dunlop who led by 2.4 seconds from Hillier and a pack of chasing Kawasaki’s. Dean Harrison, on the Silicone Engineering 750 Kawasaki, was less than a second behind Hillier in third with Ivan Lintin, on the Devitt RC Express Racing machine a further second back in fourth and Dan Kneen on the Mistral Racing bike completing the top five.
Bruce Anstey, last year’s runner up in the corresponding race, was back in eighth on the Valvoline Racing by Padgetts Motorcycles YZR 500 Yamaha, already nine seconds behind Dunlop at the first timing point.
The top three remained the same at Ballaugh although Kneen had moved ahead of Lintin at the seventeen mile point. Harrison swapped places with Hillier by Ramsey to move into second but was already almost six seconds behind race leader Dunlop.
It was clear that Steve Mercer had problems on the Mistral Racing Kawasaki, going through the Sulby speed trap at only 34mph and the Kent rider duly retired at Sulby Village.
Dunlop’s opening lap of 125.872/ 17:59.094 gave him a lead of almost 7 seconds from Dean Harrison (125.026/ 18:06.394) who nevertheless clocked the fastest ever 750 Mountain Course lap, beating Jim Moodie’s time from 1999.
James Hillier held onto third place with his opening lap of 124.492/ 18:11.056 with Kneen fourth after his lap of 123.853/ 18:16.689 and Ivan Lintin (123.602/ 18:18.914 completing the top five.
Dan Kneen was reported to have retired at Glen Darragh, which meant that Michael Rutter moved into the top five on the Team Winfield Harris Yamaha and the Midlander upped the pace to pass Lintin to go into the top four on the second lap.
It was clear that Dunlop was on for a sensational second lap and, despite slowing down for the pits, Dunlop still broke Anstey’s outright Classic TT lap record of 126.261/ 17.55.769 with a new fastest ever Classic TT lap of 126.808/ 17:51.128. Harrison duly improved his fastest lap time, and the fastest ever 750 time to 125.512/ 18:02.189.
With Dunlop electing to change a rear wheel in the pits as well as refuelling, Harrison clawed back 10 seconds in the pits and had reduced the gap on Dunlop to two seconds at Glen Helen on the third lap.
Meanwhile Gary Johnson, in sixth place on the Team York Suzuki, over shot his pit at the end of his second lap and had to go back, losing almost a minute to his nearest rivals which dropped him down the board.
Dunlop’s third lap of 118.739/ 19:03.925 reasserted his place at the front of the field and gave him a lead of thirteen seconds from Harrison with Hillier (118.877/ 19:02.593 maintaining third place a further 12 seconds behind the second placed man.
Bruce Anstey stopped at Glen Tramman on the last lap while Lintin, who was running in seventh was also reported to have retired at Signpost Corner only a mile from the finish line.
However, at the front of the field, Dunlop duly held on to win by almost twenty seconds from Harrison with a final lap of 125.348/ 18:03603 and a new race record of 124.108/ 1:12.57.750. Harrison and Hillier’s race times of 123.564/ 1:13.17.009 and 123.087/ 1:13.34.051 respectively were also both inside Michael Dunlop’s old race record for the class set last year.
Australian Alexander Pickett, who finished in 11th place, was the leading privateer.
Photo credit Dave Kneen
Download results here