Record breaking TT 2018 rewrites the history books
After a damp TT 2017 no-one would have dared predict what conditions or performances at the 2018 Isle of Man TT fuelled by Monster Energy would be like.
Had anyone been brave enough to hazard a guess it is unlikely that even in their wildest dreams they would have foreseen just how much speeds would jump.
During qualifying it became clear that with near perfect track conditions a special race meeting was on the cards.
With the advent of the first race, the RST Superbike TT cautious predictions of maybe a record on the sixth and final lap were blown into the weeds as quickly as it took Bradford’s Dean Harrison to whip his Silicone Engineering Kawasaki ZX-10R round one incredible circuit of the Course. In just sixteen minutes, 50.384 seconds Harrison shattered Michael Dunlop’s 2016 outright lap record, became the first man to lap at over 134mph, and rewrote sector records that had stood for up to nine year - and all from a standing start.
By the end of the second lap he had pushed the sector record for the Grandstand to Glen Helen even further and at the end of the race - despite retiring with clutch problems - he was holding all but one of the sector records, the final sector was snatched by a charging Dunlop on lap 3 of the same race.
As if those performances were not astonishing enough, spectators were treated to another incredible display of skill and speed as the Birchall brothers, Ben and Tom, recorded one of the most dominating sidecar race results in TT history. Looking like they were racing only themselves, the Birchalls scorched out of the blocks on the restarted Locate.im Sidecar TT Race 1 to go inside their own lap record from a standing start. On the second, flying, lap they blitzed their own record again to go inside their lap 1 time by over 11 seconds and in the process become the first crew to exceed 118mph. Their final lap, although slightly steadier was still inside the previous lap record.
A measure of the pace of that performance is shown in john Holden and Lee Cain, the runner-up crew, also lapped inside the previous race record but finished over forty seconds adrift of the brothers from Mansfield. Unsurprisingly the race was also won in a new record time.
If anyone thought the highpoint had been reached on Saturday, Michael Dunlop’s display in Monday’s Monster Energy Supersport TT Race 1 showed that there was still much more to come. From the tap on the shoulder Michael got his head down and charged to a standing start lap of 128.265mph, just a fraction outside the existing record set by him in 2013. But on the second lap, even though he had to slow down for the pitstop he raised the bar to a new and truly impressive level. Taking just 17 minutes 31.328 seconds to complete his lap, Michael pushed the lap record up to a staggering 129.197mph.
Still the record breaking wasn't done with. In Monday afternoon's RL360º Superstock TT Race Peter Hickman shredded the record books with a mindblowing 134.403mph lap and a new race record - despite a costly mistake on the first lap that saw him lose around twenty seconds before his race was more than two minutes old. NNevertheless, on a bike that is as close to a road machine as anything that is raced at the TT, Hickman took speeds to a new level and snatched back two of Dean Harrison's hard-won sector records with the fastest ever passage of the Mountain section of the course - including shaving an incredible second off the climb from Ramsey to the Bungalow.
The result of these heroics is that the hypothetical perfect lap of the TT Mountain Course is now 16:40.959 - 135.698mph - with the PokerStars Senior TT still to come and good weather forecast for the rest of the week.