Ian Hutchinson hailed his 14th Isle of Man TT success as an ‘astonishing’ feat after he equalled Mike Hailwood’s Mountain Course haul with another dominant Supersport victory on Wednesday.
The race, originally due to start at 10.45am, was hit with a series of delays due to visibility issues caused by sea mist and fog, eventually getting underway over the scheduled four-lap distance at 12.45pm.
Bingley Bullet Hutchinson wrapped up an emphatic double in the class on Keith Flint’s Team Traction Control Yamaha as he took the spoils by 17.5 seconds from Ballymoney’s Michael Dunlop, with Bradford man Dean Harrison completing the rostrum places.
Hutchinson has matched his 2015 hat-trick of Supersport and Superstock wins and is now the most successful TT rider ever in the 600cc class following his fourth consecutive victory on the TTC R6 – his eighth Supersport triumph in total.
The 36-year-old, oozing confidence ahead of Friday’s expected showdown with arch-rival Dunlop in the blue riband PokerStars Senior race, said: “It’s astonishing to be anywhere near names like that [Hailwood]. My team have done me proud again and it’s only a small little team with three mechanics and it’s been faultless: four TT 600 races in a row and it’s so nice when it’s going like this.”
Ulsterman Dunlop was running a new engine in his Yamaha supplied by Robin Appleyard after the 27-year-old was excluded from Monday’s results due to a technical infringement, with the Lisburn-based Mar-Train Racing team later accepting responsibility for the illegal engine after supplying Dunlop with the motor.
“It’s a motor that we’ve never used before and we had a load of problems, but I’m not here to bring out the excuse book,” Dunlop said.
“Robin Appleyard have me an engine to do the race and I can’t thank enough people to get me into this spot and they worked all night.”
Harrison, meanwhile, is having a terrific TT after claiming a brace of runner-up finishes in Monday’s Supersport and Superstock races and he continued in the same vein yesterday, taking a fine third, 16.6 seconds behind runner-up Dunlop.
Hutchinson set the fastest lap of the race on lap two of 127.736mph but it was still some way outside Dunlop’s 2013 record of 128.666mph.
Dunlop briefly challenged Hutchy on the opening lap with only 0.1 seconds between them at Ballaugh, but the English rider’s opening speed of 127.45mph gave him an advantage of four seconds.
After the pit stops, Hutchinson’s lead was now up to 11 seconds and there was simply no stopping him as he stretched further clear over the final two laps to score a convincing triumph over Dunlop.
Morecambe’s John McGuinness was reported as a retirement at Braddan Bridge on lap three, bringing his 90th TT race to a disappointing end.
James Hillier (Quattro Plant Muc-Off Kawasaki), who was running in sixth at Ramsey on lap three, put in a hot final lap of 126.968mph to claim fourth place by only 1.3 seconds from Bruce Anstey on the Valvoline Padgett’s Honda.
Kiwi Anstey was only 0.6 seconds ahead of Fermanagh’s Lee Johnston, who also lapped at 126mph on his final lap on the East Coast/Burdens Triumph.
William Dunlop was a non-starter on the IC Racing Yamaha, sitting out the race due to a back injury he sustained in a crash during practice at Sarah’s Cottage.
Dunlop intends to rest up before contesting the Senior TT on his Yamaha R1.
Joseph Newbould, who came off at Douglas Road corner in Kirk Michael, was airlifted to Nobles Hospital with reported ankle and wrist injuries.
Ian Lougher came off at Governor’s Bridge in Senior practice but was said to be OK, while Matthew Rees sustained minor injuries an incident at Cruickshanks in the TT Zero race.
Rob Hodson was off in the Lightweight race at Ramsey Hairpin but was OK, while Wayne Axon crashed at Joey’s and suffered suspected ankle fractures.