Gary Johnson wins Supersport thriller

Gary Johnson was victorious in the Supersport race earlier today, after enjoying a close battle with the man who broke the lap record on Saturday – Bruce Anstey. Johnson – who had been tipped as a dark horse for Saturday’s Superbike race but retired – secured his first TT win since 2011 and the first for Triumph since 2003 after beating Anstey and Saturday’s winner Michael Dunlop.

The race was delayed from its original morning start time to 2pm in the afternoon due to the weather. When it got going, however, it did not disappoint with Johnson taking the lead early on on his Smiths Triumph. His lead fluctuated, with the gap going up to four seconds, before being crushed to mere hundredths of a second on the last lap but it was too little too late for Anstey, who had to settle for second, 1.5 seconds down. The result means that the Kiwi rider continues his incredible record of standing on the podium at every North West 200 and Isle of Man TT for the last 12 years. In third it was M Dunlop who maintained a gap of about three seconds throughout the race. Behind the top three it was a solid fourth place for Dean Harrison, who finished well clear of the Tyco duo in fifth and sixth with William Dunlop ahead of Guy Martin. Next up were James Hillier, Lee Johnston, and Johnson’s team-mate Michael Rutter who was starting his 50th TT race. Rutter has spent the week struggling with handling problems which, along with the conditions, hampered him during the race, causing him to initially drop outside the top ten. Keith Amor rounded out the top ten, just over a second clear of Ian Hutchinson.

There were retirements for Conor Cummins, Ryan Kneen, and Mark Parrett amongst other riders. Elsewhere there was positivity for Daley Mathison who recorded his first TT finish after failing to finish Saturday’s Superbike race. Up at the front it was win number two for Johnson, podium number 28 for Anstey and podium 14 for Dunlop.

“I think this victory means more to me than the first,” Johnson said after the race. “The whole Smiths Triumph team have worked so hard. With the Metzeler tyres as well, we had a race-winning combination and having been strong in practice, we were able to do the same in the race and convert it all into the race win.”

Team manager, Rebecca Smith, revealed that the result was a ‘dream come true’. “If you’d said to me when we started this project six months ago, we’d be standing here with a TT win, I wouldn’t have believed you,” she said. “Everyone’s worked really hard and Gary [Johnson] and Michael [Rutter] have been the consumate professionals since day one. Gary rode fantastically well, putting in a very mature ride and he’s been at one with the bike ever since he first sat on it. The work we did in pre-season testing, both in terms of getting the bikes ready and the way we all bonded, has really paid dividends. John, Jason, Dan, Steve and Graeme have worked so hard since we’ve been here and it’s just a dream come true to have won a TT at our first attempt.”

The Superstock race had been due to follow the Supersports, but the day ended as it had started with the weather putting paid to any running. The race has been rescheduled for tomorrow at 12.15pm, with Sidecar and Lightweight practice following.

There was some sad news announced later in the evening, with a statement issued on behalf of the ACU revealing that a rider – Bob Price – had been killed during the Supersport race following an accident at Ballaugh. He was an experienced rider who first competed at the TT back in 1992. I would like to extend my condolences to his family and friends at this sad time.

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