Lap record holder Bruce Anstey kicked off the 2015 Isle of Man TT with a hard fought win in the opening Superbike race.
The race had been postponed from Saturday to Sunday and, following disrupted practice during the week, riders were more than ready to get going.
John McGuinness led the riders away in the race followed by James Hillier and Michael Dunlop, who was out on his BMW following a switch from the Milwaukee Yamaha team. It was the ninth rider to leave the start area, however, who led the way after the first lap. After a brief stint in the lead for Hillier, it was Ian Hutchinson who had the better of Anstey by the end of lap one and it soon became a two way battle at the top.
Hutchinson passed William Dunlop and Gary Johnson on the road, with the pair of them lapping in close quarters to each other and Michael Rutter in the closing stages of the race. Dunlop’s team-mate Guy Martin became a very early retirement from the race when he pulled off at Ballagarey on the first lap. He was joined on the sidelines by local rider Conor Cummins and Gary Johnson, who had an off at Guthries but was reported to be OK. Ivan Lintin retired on the second lap of the race with clutch problems.
At the end of the second lap the riders came in for their first stops and Hutchinson maintained his lead. Michael Dunlop, who had been running fourth on the road, lost out some time in the pit-lane but soon got himself into third place. The gap at the front increased to over four seconds, with Hutchinson eking out his advantage over Anstey. The Kiwi soon started decreasing the deficit and was soon leading the race and had pulled out five seconds by the final lap.
There was drama on the last lap, however, when Michael Dunlop and a backmarker got involved in an incident at the Nook. Anstey had lapped Scott Wilson and Dunlop was contemplating doing the same but, revealed in a post-race interview that he had decided to hold back as he didn’t know where the rider would be going on the road and he wasn’t sure if he had been spooked by Anstey. He revealed he would probably be sore tomorrow but still able to race – with the Superstock and Supersport races scheduled for tomorrow. Wilson was taken by airmed to Nobles with a reported broken clavicle. Andy Lawson was also taken to hospital with reported neck and arm injuries.
Due to the incident the race was red flagged meaning only the top six riders completed the full race distance. It was a podium of firsts – Anstey’s first Superbike win at the TT, Hutchinson’s first podium since his historic 2010 victories, and Hillier’s first TT Superbike podium. Behind them was McGuinness, William Dunlop, and Michael Rutter. The rest of the finishers were taken from the end of lap five and so Dan Kneen, Peter Hickman, Lee Johnston, and David Johnson completed the top ten. Jamie Hamilton was eleventh, ahead of Steve Mercer, Daniel Hegarty, Russ Mountford and Daniel Cooper.
Cameron Donald brought the Norton home in eighteenth place while newcomer Derek McGee finished in 29th. Elsewhere David Madsen-Mygdal added yet another finish to his impressive tally – having already broken the record of most finishes at the TT.
The action continues with a jam packed schedule, including the first Sidecar race, the Superstock race as well as Supersport.