Delight for McGee in superb Bennetts Lightweight TT Race
Thursday 07 June 2018
Derek McGee gave IEG/KMR Kawasaki a superb podium finish in Wednesday afternoon’s Bennetts Lightweight TT race with the Mullingar rider finishing in a brilliant second place.
Contesting just his third TT meeting, McGee showed good pace in practice and enjoyed good finishes in the Superbike and Supersport races, setting him up nicely for the four-lap Lightweight race on board Ryan Farquhar’s IEG/KMR Kawasaki machine.
Hoping to challenge for a podium finish, McGee exceeded all expectations and, instead, was disputing the race lead with Ivan Lintin and Michael Dunlop from the word go. His opening lap of 120.984mph was inside the old lap record and put him in second place just 5.7 seconds behind early race leader Lintin.
It was all change on lap two when Lintin, who’d extended his lead to ten seconds over the Mountain, retired at Bedstead and as the riders came into their solitary pit stop, it was Dunlop who now led Derek by four seconds, the latter having improved his lap speed to a superb 121.698mph.
However, the IEG/KMR Kawasaki team did a superb job in the pits and as the riders swept through Glen Helen on lap three, Derek now led Dunlop by 3.1s. Dunlop had to call upon all his Mountain Course experience to reel in McGee and by Ramsey Hairpin, he’d brought the gap down to a miniscule 0.3s.
It needed a lap record from Dunlop on the fourth and final lap to finally see off Derek’s challenge but with another lap in excess of 121mph - 121.334mph - the Irishman took his maiden TT podium in fantastic style to give former racer Farquhar his first TT podium since Conor Cummins finished third in the same race in 2013.
Unfortunately, there was disappointment for Ryan’s three other riders with David Johnson (broken fairing bracket) and Danny Webb (broken clutch) going out on the opening lap and Peter Hickman cruelly being forced to retire from third at the beginning of the fourth lap.
“To be honest, I’m speechless and lost for words! I didn’t know what to expect at the TT this year but the KMR lads have been working incredibly hard and I thought a podium position may have been a possibility if everything came together and it’s taken a lot of late nights from the boys in the team to get the bike ready. The only pit board I had was at the Gooseneck so I didn’t realise I was leading until I saw my board there and I thought Michael must have gone out!”
“An unbelievable pit stop put me in that position and we knew the tank didn’t need to be brimmed so we were in and out in a flash. Having missed a year, I wasn’t sure how this year’s TT would go for me but it’s been great so far and to be sitting here now as a podium finisher is simply brilliant. I’ve got to say a big thanks to Ryan and his team as they’ve been brilliant throughout.”
Ryan Farquhar, Team Owner:
“Today’s result is unreal but I said at the North West 200 that Derek could have won there had it not been for bike trouble. We’ve had terrible issues all fortnight with the camshafts wearing out and at one stage I wasn’t sure if I’d have any bikes out on the grid. We had to do a lot of work to get them ready and whilst I’m gutted for Danny, Davo and, especially, Pete, I couldn’t be happier for Derek.”
“He’s been riding brilliantly in all classes and I think a lot more people are going to be hearing about him in the future. He’s done a superb job so with his second place here and Jeremy McWilliams’ two runner-up spots at the North West 200, it’s nice to have our hard work rewarded. A massive thank you to all the team who have worked so hard and, of course, to all the sponsors who have made it all possible.”