TT 2016: Michael Dunlop halts Hutchinson for Senior glory

Michael Dunlop with the legendary Senior TT trophy - the biggest prize in motorcycle road racing.
Michael Dunlop with the legendary Senior TT trophy - the biggest prize in motorcycle road racing.

Michael Dunlop came out with all guns blazing to produce a Mountain Course masterclass as he shattered the outright lap record on his way to a commanding victory in the blue riband PokerStars TT on Friday.

The Ballymoney man went agonisingly close to a 134mph lap, missing out by only 0.28s as he blitzed his own record to raise the benchmark to an incredible 133.962mph on lap two, recording his fourth sub-17 minute lap on the Hawk Racing BMW.

Dunlop also fired in a blistering lap of 133.256mph (16m 59.304s) from a standing start as he decimated the opposition, taking victory by more than half-a-minute from Tyco BMW’s Ian Hutchinson after six gruelling laps of the 37.73-mile course.

Honda Racing’s John McGuinness, who won the corresponding race last year, was a further 31 seconds behind as the Morecambe man completed the top three.

Ulsterman Dunlop also set a new absolute race record of 1h 43m 56.129s for the six-lap finale, which was under McGuinness’s 2013 Senior record by a massive 1m 24.2s and 18 seconds faster than winning time from last Saturday’s RST Superbike race.

The 27-year-old halted Hutchinson’s winning streak to claim a famous big bike double with his second Senior triumph and now moves onto 13 wins after an emphatic success for Stuart and Steve Hicken’s team.

The premier race was delayed several times due to allow mist and fog to clear but eventually got underway three hours later than scheduled at 3.45pm.

Dunlop, fired up after Bingley Bullet Hutchinson bagged a hat-trick in the Supersport and Superstock races to grab the headlines throughout race week, threw down the gauntlet on the opening two laps and the English rider was simply unable to live his pace as he gradually extended his lead.

He opened a gap of 2.8 seconds over Hutchinson after the first lap, whose speed from a standing start was 132.887mph.

By the time they reached Glen Helen on lap two, Dunlop’s advantage was now five seconds, with Peter Hickman running in third on the JG Speedfit Kawasaki, ten seconds behind Hutchinson.

The Northern Ireland rider put more daylight between himself and Hutchinson on lap two after his searing lap of almost 134mph, stretching his lead to 9.2 seconds.

It quickly became a two-horse race between Dunlop and his BMW rival, but the Hawk Racing rider had the upper hand and was asserting his authority with a confident display.

Burton-on-Trent man Hickman suffered huge disappointment when he retired from third place on lap two at the Bungalow, with McGuinness moving into podium contention following the first pit stops ahead of Flying Kiwi Bruce Anstey on the Valvoline Padgett’s Honda RC213V-S MotoGP replica.

Dunlop was piling on the coals and moved into a lead of 11.2 seconds following a lap of 126.391mph at the end of lap three.

McGuinness, ninth on the opening lap, had found his pace on the Fireblade and consolidated third place, but Flying Kiwi Anstey was now coming under pressure from Dean Harrison on the Silicone Engineering Kawasaki.

Dunlop refused to relent and breached the 133mph mark again on his fourth lap with a speed of 133.001mph, although Hutchinson pulled a second back as he went slightly faster at 133.080mph.

The leader, though, was never seriously threatened and after the second round of pit stops at the end of lap four, he had a comfortable cushion of 16 seconds at Ballaugh, with McGuinness 30 seconds back on Hutchinson.

Bradford’s Harrison had now moved ahead of Anstey to slot into fourth, while Ramsey rider Conor Cummins was holding sixth on the Honda Racing Fireblade.

Dunlop could now glimpse Hutchinson on the roads, who started 20 seconds ahead of him at No.4 and he hunted down the 36-year-old mercilessly, taking over to lead the way by the time they reached Ramsey Hairpin on the final lap.

It was all over bar the shouting and Dunlop set his last lap at 131.345mph to secure the legendary Senior trophy for the second time after his maiden triumph in the showpiece race in 2014 – his fifth TT win in the premier class.

Hutchinson finished 31.476s behind at the end with McGuinness a further 31 seconds in arrears in third.

Bradford rider Harrison held on to fourth place as he finished 52.7 seconds behind McGuinness, with Anstey coming home in fifth.

Manxman Cummins took sixth, with Michael Rutter (Bathams SMT BMW) and Fermanagh’s Lee Johnston on the East Coast/Burdens BMW completing the first eight.

James Hillier (Quattro Plant Muc-Off Kawasaki) and Lightweight TT winner Ivan Lintin (Devitt RC Express Kawasaki) were the top ten.

William Dunlop retired his Yamaha R1 in the pits at the end of lap two, while Australia’s Dave Johnson came off the Norton at Sulby Bridge, but was reported as OK.

Meath’s Alan Bonner crashed at the Creg-ny-Baa on the Devitt RC Express Kawasaki but was also reported to be OK.