John McGuinness won his 18th TT yesterday when he took victory in the Dainese Superbike race at the Isle of Man TT Races fuelled by Monster Energy. The Honda TT Legends rider overcame an early challenge from Australian Cameron Donald. He was helped by two incredibly slick pit stops and extended his lead of six seconds at half race distance to 18 seconds and he was able to ease off slightly on the final lap to take the chequered flag – his 7th Superbike/Formula One race win – by 14 seconds. Donald put in his first 130mph+ laps to take a good second and New Zealand’s Bruce Anstey came home third after Guy Martin faded in the second half of the race with rear tyre problems.
The morning started in cool, cloudy conditions and a 15-minute delay was required before the race got underway at 11.15am and, when it did, it was McGuinness who led at Glen Helen, the Honda TT Legends rider holding a 1.3s advantage over Donald with Martin a further 0.66s back. James Hillier was going well in fourth with Michael Rutter and Bruce Anstey completing the top six.
At Ballaugh, Donald had reduced the lead to a mere 0.15s and by Ramsey it was almost the same, 0.35s the gap between the pair. Martin was still in third, the same margin adrift as he had been at Glen Helen, with Gary Johnson now edging out Padgetts Honda team-mate Anstey for fourth.
It was clear that there wasn’t going to be much between the leading trio at the end of the first lap and, sure enough, with all three posting 130mph+ laps, only 0.98s split them – however, it was Donald who now led by just 0.2s. Johnson, Anstey and Hillier completed the top six but Rutter was reported to have gearbox trouble and dropped out whilst Ryan Farquhar also pulled in to make adjustments. McGuinness’ team-mate Simon Andrews was also out having crashed at the Graham Memorial with the Honda Legends rider later reported to have a cracked shoulder, a broken wrist and a broken ankle.
McGuinness, who later admitted he was slightly cautious on the first lap, regained the lead with the fastest lap of the race, 130.382mph on the second lap. As he came into the pits for his first stop, the lead was 2.16s. Martin was a further three seconds back and after a superb pit stop, McGuinness’ lead shot up to 6 seconds. Anstey regained fourth from Johnson and William Dunlop held onto sixth.
Donald wasn’t going to roll over though and reduced the gap back to 3.8s at Glen Helen whilst news came through that Dan Stewart, Davy Morgan and Luis Carreira were just some of the riders to be penalised 30s for speeding in the pit lane. Throughout the third lap, McGuinness maintained his lead over Donald but Martin was dropping back and at the end of the third lap, McGuinness led Donald by a now ominous looking 6.2s, Martin’s challenge seemingly over as he was now 21 seconds behind Donald.
Anstey, Johnson and Dunlop completed the top six with Hillier, Ian Hutchinson, a flying Dean Harrison and Michael Dunlop completing the top ten. Farquhar called it a day as three of the newcomers – Jimmy Storrar, Karl Harris and Jamie Hamilton all posted their first ever 120mph laps.
By two thirds race distance, McGuinness was back in familiar territory, controlling affairs from the front, and with his lead extending at each timing point, he came into the pits at the end of lap ten seconds clear. With yet another superb pit stop, the lead was increased further still to 13 seconds but Martin was now in danger of losing third to Anstey. A rear spindle problem meant the Tyco Suzuki team couldn’t change the rear tyre and so he had to ride four laps on the same tyre. Stewart was again penalised 30s and that dropped him down the order to 12th.
There were no such problems for McGuinness though and with a lead of almost 17 seconds at Ramsey on the final lap, he was able to ride to his signals and come for his 18th TT win, 14.86s clear of Donald, the same 1-2 as twelve months ago. Anstey took over third on the fifth lap to make it a Honda 1-2-3 as Martin ended up 20s behind in fourth. Johnson and Dunlop were secure in fifth and sixth to make it five Hondas in the top 6.
Hillier held onto seventh with the returning Ian Hutchinson in eighth but, without doubt, one of the rides of the race was by Dean Harrison. In just his second TT, the 23-year lapped at over 126mph to take a brilliant ninth, with Michael Dunlop completing the top ten on his Kawasaki Superstock machine.
Harrison got maximum points in the race for the Privateer’s Championship whilst Karl Harris was the best of the newcomers in a fine 21st place.