After one of the worst practice weeks in recent history; thanks to the Island’s ‘micro- climate’, this years Isle Of Man TT races kicked off with the first outing of the sidecars on Saturday 1st June.
2013 sees the 103rd anniversary of racing on the Island, and sidecar maestro Dave Molyneaux was looking for his 17th TT win as he set off down Bray Hill with partner Farrance. The Manx duo ended up finishing 3rd after four gruling laps around the 37.5 mile TT circuit, finishing behind Harrison and Aylott in 2nd & Reeves and Sayle in 1st.
This year more than ever, the TT has plucked many domestic and international racers and teams to come and compete at the famous road races and this years most noticeable newcomer is Australian Josh Brookes, riding for Tyco Suzuki; his team in the British Superbike Championship. Records immediately began to fall as the feisty Aussie set the fastest ever newcomer lap in his first race, with a fantastic 27.726mph lap and finished an astonishing tenth overall. The former holder of the newcomer lap record was Steve Plater, with a 125.808mph lap.
The first race on two wheels was delayed until the Sunday to let the competitors have an extra day of practice due to dismal weather the week before, and the Superbikes took center stage that afternoon. As ever TT living legend and 19 times winner John McGuiness was favorite on his preferred bike, but the mighty McGuiness had a new partner in the Honda TT Legends garage, Michael Dunlop; nephew to the great late Joey Dunlop, and Michael was in a fighting mood. As soon as the first lap commenced Dunlop looked McGuiness’ equal at every sector, and the Irishman stretched his advantage at the front with every lap that passed, eventually taking a dominant victory – his fourth win on the Mountain Course – by 40.937 seconds from Australia’s Cameron Donald on his Craig Wilson Honda, McGuiness took 3rd overall making it a clean sweep for the Honda manufacturer. McGuinness, who picked up a 60-second time penalty for speeding in pit lane at the end of the fourth lap during the second pit-stops, produced a sizzling final lap to smash his 2009 outright lap record with a speed of 131.67mph to snatch the final place on the podium from Tyco Suzuki’s Guy Martin.
On Monday it was the turn of the Supersport bikes, and Dunlop made it 2 out of 2 with his second win of the week.
Dunlop managed the race from start to finish and was dominant from Ramsey on the opening lap to pull a gap of ten seconds over Bruce Anstey, who is suffering from flu, which he maintained to the chequered flag. Older brother William Dunlop, who was fastest out of the blocks and led for the first half a lap, finished in third place and 23.5s down on the Milwaukee Yamaha.
There was no let up for the TT heroes, as that afternoon they were to jump on the Superstock machines; these are the bikes that you an me could go and purchase at our local dealer, just with a few fancy bits stuck on instead.
Surprise surprise! Man on a mission Micheal Dunlop made it a hat-trick of wins taking the Superstock victory with an astonishing last lap of 131.220mph to beat Gary Johnson by more than 16s and be only three seconds outside the outright lap record set by John McGuinness. Johnson had led the race until Glen Helen on the final lap but had some machinery problems. Dunlop increased his lead from 0.137s at the first checkpoint to a final margin of 16.577 as they crossed the line for the last time as Dunlop equalled his dad’s record of five TT wins and all eyes must now be turning to Ian Hutchinson’s five in a week back in 2010.
At the half way stage of race week, things are shaping up nicely for the final races on the Island on Wednesday and Friday. Any more wins for Dunlop and people may be seriously talking about a changing of the guard, with McGuiness passing the torch onto Dunlop, but we can never count out the most successful rider in the last decade.