Michael Dunlop has won the first race of the 2014 Isle of Man TT, beating Guy Martin and local hero Conor Cummins. His win in the Superbike race was the first for BMW in 75 years, since Georg Meier won the 1939 Senior TT. Dunlop, who won four races last year, brought his overall TT win tally to eight, after a dominating display saw him finish twenty seconds clear of Tyco Suzuki rider Martin who was just three seconds ahead of Cummins by the end of the race.
Dunlop took an early lead, moving ahead of James Hillier after Ballaugh, and from there he was untouchable. He passed all of his main competitors to lead them on the road and was untouchable. It was not such a positive first race for Gary Johnson, Cameron Donald, Ian Hutchinson and Jamie Hamilton who all retired. There was drama in the pits during the race as Wayne Kirwan’s bike caught fire, but it was soon dealt with but resulted in him retiring from the race. James Cowton came off his bike at the Verandah but was unhurt.
Elsewhere, Bruce Anstey impressed by breaking the lap record and becoming the first man to go over 132mph at the TT. His 132.298mph came on the last lap after a charge back to fourth, having overshot on the first lap and lost out on time and positions. He finished ahead of Michael Rutter in fifth, with William Dunlop in sixth. John McGuinness, who left the line first but is still struggling with a wrist injury, came home in seventh place ahead of an impressive Dean Harrison, James Hillier and Josh Brookes. Peter Hickman was the first newcomer home, finishing in 14th place, including a 126.195mph lap on the final tour. That makes him the second fastest ever newcomer (so far), behind Brookes who recorded a 127.726mph last year. For the top three, it was podium number for 14 for Martin – who has not finished on the podium since 2011 – and podium number five for Cummins.
After the first Solo race of the week, it was time for the Sidecars. It was a close battle, especially at the front with the Birchall brothers, Dave Molyneux/Patrick Farrance, and Conrad Harrison/Mike Aylott all leading the race. The Birchall brothers crashed out at the Black Dub and were airlifted to hospital with minor injuries. Tom Birchall tweeted later in the evening that the pair of them were OK but that Ben had broken bones in his hand. Back in the race, Sidecar legend Molyneux, along with Farrance, had built up a solid lead over John Holden and Andrew Winkle. The leading duo were establishing a M Dunlopesque lead but retired from the race, leaving it to Harrison/Aylott and Holden/Winkle to fight it out for the lead. In the end it was Harrison and Aylott who won – 21 years after Harrison’s debut – finishing ahead of Holden and Winkle, and last year’s winner Tim Reeves with Frenchman Gregory Cluze.
Racing continues on Monday with the Superstock and Supersport classes.