The Honda TT Legends rider overcame an early challenge from Bruce Anstey and a strong pit stop at the end of lap 2 saw him reassert himself. When the Kiwi went out at Quarry Bends, John was already 20 seconds clear of the field. With Guy Martin retiring on lap 5, McGuinness’ eventual winning margin was almost a minute over Cameron Donald who came through to take 2nd, some 10 seconds clear of Gary Johnson who took third despite suffering a 30-second penalty for infringing the pit lane speed limit.
Saturday saw dry, sunny conditions all around the course although a strong breeze kept the riders on their toes over the Mountain and at the first checkpoint at Glen Helen on the first lap, McGuinness was leading by just over a second from Johnson who was carrying over his practice form into the race. Anstey was only two tenths further back in third with Martin in fourth and James Hillier going brilliantly in fifth just ahead of Michael Dunlop and Dan Stewart.
McGuinness was putting in one of his customary fast first laps but Anstey was matching him all the way and at the end of the first lap only half a second separated the pair, both lapping comfortably over 130mph. Johnson and Martin also broke the 130mph barrier in third and fourth as Michael Dunlop and Donald completed the top six, Hillier dropping back to ninth. There was disappointment though on the opening lap for both Michael Rutter and Simon Andrews, the duo retiring at Cruickshanks and Quarter Bridge respectively.
Anstey was really flying on the second lap and he overhauled McGuinness by Glen Helen turning his deficit into a 1.5s advantage. Johnson was a further four seconds back in third still ahead of Martin, Dunlop and Donald but at the head of the field Anstey was pressing ahead on the Padgetts Honda and he completed the lap at 131.378mph. His lead was only 0.9s though as McGuinness also broke the 131mph barrier and his lead unravelled due to a slightly sluggish pit stop and when they left the pits, it was the Morecambe man who was now some 12 seconds clear. Dunlop was also in trouble in the pits losing over 2 minutes.
The gap was still 12 seconds through Glen Helen but Anstey was soon reported as having stopped at Quarry Bends and Martin moved up into second ahead of Johnson albeit by less than half a second. Donald was now fifth with Keith Amor putting in a brave ride in 6th given the discomfort of his injured shoulder. Stewart, William Dunlop and James Hillier were next with Conor Cummins riding superbly in tenth. Another local hero, Dan Kneen, was in trouble though, making an unscheduled pit stop at the end of the first lap and then retiring for good at the end of lap 3.
By two thirds race distance, McGuinness was controlling affairs from the front maintaining a near 20-second lead over Martin who now had some breathing space in second when Johnson was handed a 30-second penalty for exceeding the speed limit in pit lane after his second pit stop. Indeed, it was now Donald who was up to third whilst Cummins retired at Signpost.
There was drama on the fifth lap when Martin retired at Hillberry but, leading on the road, McGuinness was able to cruise home in his final lap, his final winning margin over Donald 56.9 seconds. Johnson lost the runner-up spot due to the pit lane infringement but he was still comfortable in third ahead of Amor who ensured it was four Hondas in the top 4.
Michael Dunlop came through from his pit stop problems to secure 5th on the final lap just edging Stewart out by two seconds. William Dunlop enjoyed his best ever ride in the Superbike race to take 7th with Hillier, Adrian Archibald and Ian Mackman rounding out the top ten. Mackman’s finish ensured he took maximum points in the Privateer’s Championship whilst the first newcomer home was Dan Hegarty in 32nd.