The 2016 Isle of Man TT is one that will not be forgotten in a hurry. Conditions were ideal on the Island meaning lap records were smashed – both unofficially in practice and officially during the race.
Michael Dunlop completed the first sub 17 minute lap of the Mountain course and a lap of 133.962mph! The Ulster Grand Prix can sleep easy for now, however, as the world’s fastest road race title still belongs to them as Dunlop narrowly missed their fastest lap which stands at 133.977mph.
It was a TT that saw Ian Hutchinson and Dunlop go head-to-head as the pair battled for supremacy.
It was 1-0 to Dunlop following the first race. The pair had been swapping fast lap times during practice week – Dunlop in the Superbike class and Hutchinson blitzing the field on his Superstock. Dunlop won the opening Superbike race – even completing a 133.393mph lap from a standing start – with nearly a 20 second advantage over Hutchinson. John McGuinness completed the podium on his 20th anniversary of racing at the TT.
Then it was advantage Hutchinson for a few races. The most successful man in the Supersport class at the TT continued his form from last year by winning both races in the class again this year. The first one saw him cruise to a 14 second victory over Dunlop, although the Ballymoney man was later disqualified. Dean Harrison was then awarded second – 38 seconds down on the leader – with James Hillier in third. It was the same trio in the winner’s enclosure following the Superstock race with Hutchinson victorious once again.
The second Supersport race win saw Hutchinson draw level with Mike Hailwood in terms of TT victories – both riders on 14. He this time beat Dunlop by 17.5 seconds with Harrison again on the podium.
On Wednesday Ivan Lintin became a two time TT winner after another Lightweight win. It was a battle between himself and Hillier, the latter of the pair leading the race for the first lap and a half. The eventual winning margin for Lintin was just over 12 seconds with Hillier in second. The battle for third was close fought with any one of Gary Johnson, Martin Jessopp and Stefano Bonetti possible podium finishers. A slow stop compromised Johnson and it was Jessopp who got his first ever TT podium. Bonetti finished a career best fifth at the TT – his previous best having been 12th.
Bruce Anstey – who was riding with an injury following an off in practice – continued his TT podium record by securing victory in the TT Zero race. He has had at least one podium at every TT since his debut in 2002. Just seven riders started TT Zero with five finishers. Anstey beat William Dunlop – also injured from a practice accident – and Daley Mathison, another first time podium finisher. Race favourite John McGuinness was fourth ahead of Allann Venter.
In the Sidecar class the partnerships of John Holden and Andrew Winkle, and Ben and Tom Birchall were both successful. Holden and Winkle won the first Sidecar race although it had been the Birchall’s race to lose before they unfortunately retired on the last lap. Brothers Peter and Alan Founds both finished on the podium in the first race with their respective passengers of Jevan Walmsley and Aki Aalto. There was success for the Birchall pairing in race two, however, as they made it to the end and won. They beat Holden and Winkle, with Tim Reeves and Patrick Farrance joining them on the podium.
After all that it was time for the big one – the Senior TT. It was advantage Dunlop all the way as he stormed to victory. The lead was nearly two seconds at Glen Helen on the first lap and while it fluctuated throughout the race it ultimately grew. It was McGuinness’ team who pulled out all the stops in the pits, but it was not enough to do anything to stop Dunlop who won by 31 seconds in the end. Hutchinson was second with McGuinness in third. Harrison was just outside the top three, finishing fourth, ahead of Anstey, Conor Cummins, Michael Rutter, Lee Johnston, James Hillier and Ivan Lintin who completed the top ten.
It wasn’t a week without sadness as four competitors lost their lives at this year’s TT. Sidecar riders Dwight Beare and Ian Bell died following incidents in race one and two respectively. Beare’s passenger Benjamin Binns has been transferred to Liverpool hospital with leg injuries. Bell’s passenger – and son – Carl Bell was reported to be uninjured.
Paul Shoesmith – a team owner and racer – lost his life during a practice lap following racing on the first Saturday. He was posthumously awarded the ‘Spirit of the TT’ award which was presented to his family. Andrew Soar also died following an incident in the Senior TT. Thoughts remain with the families and friends of those we have lost.
Hutchinson wrapped up the Joey Dunlop Championship, while Dan Hegarty won the Privateers, and Holden and Winkle the Sidecars.
Not even a week after the dust settled at the Isle of Man TT, many riders will be in action this weekend at the Kells Road Races in Ireland and the Cock O’The North at Oliver’s Mount in Scarborough.