DOUGLAS (Isle of Man) – The 2015 Isle of Man Motorcycle TT races (May 30-June 12) were as memorable as any down the years and the fastest yet – though some races were shortened and even postponed for hours on end due to bad weather.
To the locals, though, who live there the island is simply known as Mann; a completely independent island that is outside of the European Community (EC) to the point of having its own parliament and even its own currency, but for well over 100 years this jewel in the Irish Sea off the British mainland has been the motorcycling road racing capital of the world.
The only way to get there is by ferry – you can fly, but it’s nowhere near as much fun.
Bruce Anstey got the 2015 Isle of Man TT Races up and running in superb style when he swept to a hugely popular victory in the RST Superbike race (210.87 km/h).
The Kiwi overhauled early race leader Ian Hutchinson at the beginning of the fifth lap and took his 10th TT win – and first in the Superbike class – by 10.9 seconds with James Hillier taking third after Michael Dunlop crashed out on the final lap.
After a three-minute delay, the race got underway and Hutchinson who led at Glen Helen by just 0.2s from Anstey with Hillier in third just half a second further back. However, one of the pre-race favourites Guy Martin was already out having stopped at Ballagarey.
Meanwhile, Dunlop’s final lap charge ended at the Nook when he crashed out after tangling with a slower rider and so Hillier took third, his first ever Superbike TT podium. John McGuinness, William Dunlop and Michael Rutter completed the top six but the incident at the Nook brought the red flag out and no other riders completed the full race distance.
Ian Hutchinson took a fairytale victory in the opening Monster Energy Supersport race when he came home 7.7s clear of New Zealand’s Anstey, reversing the result of Sunday’s RST Superbike race, with Gary Johnson in third.
It was Hutchinson’s ninth TT win and completed his comeback from the career threatening leg injuries he suffered at the end of 2010, the year he won all five solo races.
The riders enjoyed perfect conditions for the 6.30pm start and it was Johnson who led at Glen Helen on the opening lap by just over two seconds from teammate Dean Harrison. He in turn was only half a second ahead of Hutchinson who was almost dead level with James Hillier. Anstey and Lee Johnston filled out the remaining top six places.
• South African rider Hudson Kennaugh was placed 34th in this race, riding a Triumph, managed a time of 1hour18min16.302. His average speed was 185.10 km/h, achieving a bronze medal for his troubles.
Hutchinson won his second race of the week at the 2015 Isle of Man TT races when he took the RL360 Superstock race obliterating Dunlop’s race record by 32 seconds. In a stunning race the top four – Hutchinson, Dunlop, Johnston and Hillier were all inside the old mark.
Hutchinson’s Kawasaki rider took control at the half race distance point and the ‘Bingley Bullet’ eventually ran home victor by just under 20 seconds from early leader Dunlop. Johnston nipped in for the final podium place, his first TT podium finish, after getting the better of Hillier in a thrilling final lap.
Hutchinson wasn’t to be denied his second win of the week and he increased his lead all the way round the 61km circuit to eventually cross the line 17.2s clear for his tenth TT victory. Dunlop had to settle for second but the battle for third went all the way to the chequered flag and it was Johnston who grabbed it from Hillier by just 0.270s after a stunning final lap of 209.36 km/h.
• BMW confirmed that rider William Dunlop was ruled out of the rest of 2015’s Isle of Man TT races following a crash at Laurel Bank during the Superstock qualifying session.
Zero Electric Bike Race
McGuinness broke his own SES TT Zero record the electric bike race with his teammate Bruce Anstey again following him home, as he did last year. Anstey was also inside McGuinness’s old lap record for the electric bike class.
At the front of the field McGuinness was being made to work for the race win by Anstey with the gap closing to less than three seconds but the Morecambe Missile (he's from the mainland port town of Morecambe pretty much due east of the island) held on to win with a new lap record of 190.84km/h (18min58.743) from Anstey (19min02.785) with Johnston taking third for Victory/Parker Racing with 20min16.881. Guy Martin (20min37.987), Robert Wilson (21min15.256) completed the top five with Michael Sweeney (30min56.695) taking the University honours for Nottingham.
Supersport Race 2
Ian Hutchinson completed a hat-trick of wins at the 2015 Isle of Man TT Races when he won the second Monster Energy Supersport race. The Yamaha rider took his 11th TT victory by 14.8s from Anstey with Martin taking his first podium of the week in third.
At Glen Helen on the opening lap, as has often been the case that week, it was the Kawasaki of Hillier that led, his gap over Hutchinson one second with Anstey in third only a tenth further back. Gary Johnson, Martin and Dean Harrison completed the top six although the latter was soon out at Ballaugh.
At the head of the field though, Hutchinson wasn’t to be denied and once he realised Anstey was charging, he turned up the wick and came home the winner by an eventual 14.8s. Anstey took his fourth podium of the week in second once more with Martin getting third on the Smiths Racing Triumph.
Hutchinson’s win saw him move on to 95 points in the race for the TT Championship, some 23 points clear of Anstey with Hillier holding onto third on 52 points.
Meanwhile, Dan Cooper continues to lead the TT Privateer’s Championship with 81 points, 11 clear of Jamie Hamilton, the duo finishing 15th and 14th respectively in the race.
Ivan Lintin grabbed his debut TT victory when he took a record-breaking Bennetts Lightweight race from Hillier by just under four seconds with Michael Rutter in third. The front two both smashed the old lap record, Hillier lapping at 120.848 compared to Lintin’s 120.845 but it was the second win in a row in the class for the team after Dean Harrison’s win 12 months ago.
Hillier was again the quickest to Glen Helen, as he has been for most of the week, with Lintin 1.5s behind. Ryan Farquhar was only two tenths of a second adrift in third and his team mate Johnston was almost exactly level with him. Dan Cooper and Rutter were back in fifth and sixth respectively. One of the pre-race favourites, Hamilton, was outside the top 10 though having been slow to leave the line.
As they flashed across the line, Hillier claimed the lap record at 193.35 km/h but Lintin’s speed was almost identical at 192.15 km/h and he took his first TT victory by 3.8s. Rutter took a brilliant third on the Paton with Cowton a good fourth whilst the battle for fifth went all the way to the end, eventually going the way of Hamilton over Cooper.
• SA rider Kennaugh was reported off at Braddan Oaks, but not injured.
Senior TT (final race for 2015)
McGuinness took his 23rd TT victory and shattered Anstey’s outright lap record from l2014’s Superbike race with a sensational speed of 212.32km/h as he came home 14.2s clear of Hillier in the PokerStars Senior race with Hutchinson in third. The victory came after the original race was red flagged (rider down) on the second lap and a shortened four-lap race was restarted at 2.45pm.
The Honda Racing rider took the lead from Hillier at the Bungalow on the opening lap and when Hutchinson made a mistake at Signpost Corner just before the solitary pit stop, he was able to pull away for his seventh Senior race victory.
At Glen Helen first time around, Hillier was again in the lead but it was close with McGuinness only eight tenths behind and Hutchinson just a tenth adrift of the Honda rider. Anstey was holding onto fourth ahead of Johnson and Dunlop but Martin had a really poor start and way down in 13th spot.
By Ramsey, Hillier still led but his advantage was down to six tenths of a second and it was now McGuinness in second with Hutchinson down to third, four tenths further back. Anstey was in fourth with two seconds covering the leading four with Dunlop now in fifth and Hickman sixth.
An opening lap of 210.96km/h – the fastest from a standing start – gave McGuinness a 1.2s lead over Hutchinson with Hillier back to third, a further 1.8s back. Anstey, Dunlop and Hickman filled out the top six, the latter having posted his first ever 210km/h+ lap, with Martin getting going in seventh.
McGuinness added half a second to his lead as they swept through Glen Helen for the second time with the top five remaining the same although Martin had moved up to sixth ahead of Hickman. The lead was back up to 1.9s at Ramsey although Martin was now up to fourth, tucking in behind Hutchinson on the road.
A stunning, new outright lap record of 212.32km/h gave McGuinness the lead and the gap had shot up to 10.9s as Hutchinson overshot at Signpost. Hillier remained in third but he was only 0.6s ahead of Martin as the BMW rider also broke the old outright lap record with a lap of 211.10km/h. Anstey was now in fifth and Dunlop sixth and in an astonishing lap, the first 11 riders all lapped at more than 210 km/h.
The Morecambe Missile added another second on the run to Ramsey and as he started his final lap around the Mountain Course, his advantage over Hutchinson was an impressive 17.5s. Hillier was a further 6.6s in arrears and he was coming under serious pressure from Martin once more with the difference between the duo now just 2.5s.
McGuinness was in full control of the race and all eyes were on the battle for second now as Hillier took over the second podium position at Ballaugh, extending his gap to Hutchinson to four seconds as they rounded Ramsey Hairpin for the final time.
It was all about McGuinness though, and the Honda man duly came home for his 23rd TT victory, equalling the seven Senior TT wins of Mike Hailwood. Hillier completed his excellent week in second, also lapping inside the old lap record at 211.86km/h, with Hutchinson holding onto third from Martin.
Dunlop – whose final lap was 212.02km/h – and Cummins took fifth and sixth as Anstey faded to eighth and so it was Hickman who took seventh. David Johnson finished ninth and Michael Rutter 10th.
Hutchinson had the consolation of winning the overall Joey Dunlop TT Championship and with Dan Cooper finishing in 17th place, he secured the TT Privateer’s Championship.
• James Hamilton was the rider involved in the incident and he was taken by airmed to Nobles Hospital where his condition was described as serious but not considered life threatening.
Sidecar Race 1
Ben and Tom Birchall took a dramatic victory in the opening Sure Sidecar race at the 2015 Isle of Man TT Races coming home almost 25 seconds clear of John Holden/Dan Sayle for their second TT victory.
The duo won in a new race record time with Conrad Harrison/Mike Aylott taking third but there was disappointment for pre-race favourites Dave Molyneux/Ben Binns and Tim Reeves/Patrick Farrance who both went out on the first lap.
Sidecar Race 2
Ben and Tom Birchall took their second win of the 2015 Isle of Man TT Races, fuelled by Monster Energy, when they took a record breaking victory in Wednesday afternoon’s Sure Sidecar race 2. Winning in a new race record time, they defeated Dave Molyneux/Ben Binns by seven seconds with John Holden/Dan Sayle coming home in third. Molyneux and Binns had the consolation of claiming a new lap record with a final lap speed of 186.85km/h.
Parade Lap: Kawasaki
Kawasaki rider James Hillier is looking to claim the fastest speed ever recorded for a motorcycle on closed roads at the Isle of Man TT after registering over 329.60km/h on his Strava GPS app on the famous Sulby straight riding a Ninja H2R in a parade lap.
The Kawasaki rider declared himself nervous but excited at the prospect of guiding the closed-course-only Ninja H2R around the 61km circuit complete with its integrated supercharger and +225kW.
With the TT organisers wisely allowing him his own time slot as part of an afternoon of parade laps, the 30-year-old rider adjusted the on-board-camera-equipped bike to his needs using the unique adjustable side sections of the seat to locate him during intense acceleration.
Ushered to the TT start line, Hillier’s crew removed the tyre warmers and the TT winner accelerated down Bray Hill in an unsilenced cacophony that impressed even the hardiest TT fan. And with instructions to enjoy himself aboard the exclusive machine, Hillier spent little time waving and the majority of his unique lap hard on the gas in what he termed as a once in a lifetime experience.
“That was insane, simply insane”, a clearly shocked Hillier declared to Manx Radio as the tyre burnout smoke cleared in the TT winners enclosure at the conclusion of the lap. “The first four gears are just over in a flash and the acceleration is mental.
“It was fast everywhere and over the mountain, well, it was simply incredible. I had my cycling app Strava switched on for the whole lap and down Sulby straight I gave it full gas in top gear and it topped out at over 329 km/h…Wow!”
The Ninja H2R, along with invited Ninja and Ninja H2R owners makes an appearance next at the World of Kawasaki event at Rockingham Speedway on 28 June, 2015.
• If you should fancy taking a trip over the Island be sure to diarise the dates May 28 - June 10 2016, for next year’s IOM TT.
Superbike TT Race: TT Superbike Tourist Trophy - Bruce Anstey
Sidecar TT Race 1 Fred W Dixon Trophy - Ben & Tom Birchall
Supersport TT Race 1 Junior Tourist Trophy - Ian Hutchinson
Superstock TT Race John Hartle Trophy - Ian Hutchinson
Supersport TT Race 2 Classic TT Trophy - Ian Hutchinson
Sure Sidecar TT Race 2 Sidecar Tourist Trophy - Ben & Tom Birchall
TT Zero Challenge TT Trophy - John McGuinness
Bennett’s Lightweight TT Race Lightweight TT Trophy - Ivan Lintin
PokerStars Senior TT Race Senior Tourist Trophy - John McGuinness