Michael joins father Robert and uncle Joey on TT winners list.
Whilst the start line was blessed with sunshine, heavy rain, and hail, hit the west side of the circuit in the morning resulting in a 3 and a quarter hour delay and when the race did get underway at 2pm, the course was still very damp with lack of adhesion flags shown from Appledene to Ballaugh. Most of the leading riders admitted it was going to be very tricky in the early stages and it was Dunlop, fastest in practice, who took control from the start, an opening lap of 119.743mph putting him over ten seconds clear of Cummins.
The difficult conditions could clearly be seen in the lap times and it was Guy Martin, Anstey, Ryan Farquhar and Ian Lougher who completed the top six whilst yesterday’s race winner Ian Hutchinson was down in 9th and Monday’s Superbike victor John McGuinness in 11th. Mark Buckley was flying in 11th as was newcomer Michal Dokoupil in 12th.
Dunlop was continually stretching his advantage and by the end of lap 2 his lead was up to 15 seconds, a lap of 122.692mph clear indication of the improving conditions. Cummins and Anstey were up to second and third with Martin slipping back to fourth whilst Keith Amor, Steve Plater and Hutchinson were all getting in to their stride in fifth, sixth and seventh respectively. Buckley and Dokoupil were still in 11th and 12th but McGuinness had slipped further back to 14th, clearly not happy with the damp circuit.
A superb pit stop saw Dunlop’s advantage soar even higher and as they started their fourth and final lap, not only was he 24 seconds ahead, he was also third on the road. Cummins appeared to be in trouble though and crossed the start line at just 98mph whilst Martin pulled in to retire, not at all happy with the performance of his engine. Meanwhile, Dokoupil’s fine ride came to end when he retired at Ballaugh.
Conditions were improving all the time as the track dried out and although Plater was charging further up the leaderboard, Dunlop had the race under control and with a final lap of 125.077mph, he took his first TT victory by 31.01 seconds. The win came 11 years after father Robert’s last win in the 1998 125cc race and 9 years after Joey’s win in the same class in 2000.
Behind, Anstey got the verdict over Cummins, whose problems disappeared as quickly as they’d surfaced, by just 0.71seconds, pleased to get a finish after 3 DNF’s whilst the Manxman was delighted with his first ever TT podium.
Plater set the fastest lap of the race, 125.384mph, on his final lap to take fourth for the third race in a row, also making it four different manufacturers in the top 4, with Hutchinson coming through to fifth ahead of Lougher, as Amor dropped out of fifth on the final lap. Farquhar took seventh ahead of Buckley who had a brilliant ride in to eighth for his best ever TT result, with Carl Rennie and Gary Johnson completing the top ten.
Hutchinson’s fifth place has seen him strengthen his lead in the battle for the Joey Dunlop Trophy and with two of his main rivals, Martin and McGuinness, posting a DNF and a lowly 11th, his advantage is up 15 points with Plater now up to second.
Joey Dunlop Trophy current standings (after 4 races)
1 Ian Hutchinson – 74 points
2 Steve Plater – 59 points
3 Guy Martin – 56 points
4 John McGuinness – 52 points
5 Conor Cummins – 32 points
= Keith Amor – 32 points