The Padgetts Honda rider came in to the final lap 5.54s adrift of long time race leader Ryan Farquhar but a record breaking lap of 130.741mph saw him edge out the KMR Kawasaki rider by the tiny margin of 1.32s. The Northern Irishman just missed out on a 130mph+ lap but was comfortably clear of third placed Conor Cummins, who made it two Kawasaki’s in the top three.
With the Island basking in warm sunshine once more, conditions were absolutely ideal around the Mountain Course and it was Farquhar who set off quickest, the Dungannon rider holding on to a slender 0.24s lead from Michael Dunlop with Keith Amor in third and Hutchinson, Cummins and Cameron Donald completing the top six. It was incredibly close though with 1.5s covering the top 5 and only 4.5s between the top ten!
Farquhar was flying on the opening lap, extending his advantage at all the timing points, and a first lap speed of 129.648mph gave him a 6.78s lead over Dunlop with Hutchinson now up to third ahead of Cummins and Amor, John McGuinness holding on to sixth. Leading contenders Dan Stewart and Carl Rennie were both out of luck though, the duo retiring at the end of the first lap.
Farquhar and Hutchinson were pulling away from the chasing pack on the second lap and the Kawasaki rider was the first to break the old lap record with a brilliant lap of 129.816mph and this saw him edge further away from Hutchinson, the gap 8.8s as they came into refuel. Dunlop had been relegated to fourth though and he lost further time as he changed his rear tyre at the pit stop, dropping him all the way down to 11th.
Hutchinson had the quickest pit stop and led the race for the first time as the riders left the pits but by Glen Helen, 34-year old Farquhar was back in front to the tune of 1.4s and it was going to be a straight fight over the final two laps. Cummins was only eight seconds further back in third with McGuinness, Amor and Guy Martin now occupying the top six positions. Dunlop was fighting his way back and was gradually inching his way up the leaderboard.
By Ramsey Hairpin, Farquhar was over four seconds clear and this became 5.54s as the pair went into their final lap – and it was here when Hutchinson made his charge. The gap stayed the same at Glen Helen but Hutchinson had halved this by the time they jumped Ballaugh Bridge, and at Ramsey Hairpin for the final time it was only 1.82s. In all three races held so far, Hutchinson has been the quickest rider over the Mountain but Farquhar was up for the fight and rode harder than he’d ever done before only to fall short by the smallest margin.
Hutchinson’s final lap of 130.741mph was the first 130mph lap recorded by a Superstock machine and, despite Farquhar setting his best ever lap of the Mountain Course at 129.883mph, he fell short by an agonising 1.32s. Nevertheless, it was his first podium finish at the TT since 2008 and there was further celebration for Kawasaki with Cummins coming home in a strong third and going some way to make up for his disappointment on Saturday, when he retired whilst leading the Superbike race.
Behind, McGuinness maintained his fourth place all the way to the chequered flag whilst Martin got the better of Amor for fifth, albeit by just two tenths of a second. Ian Lougher took a fine seventh with a determined Michael Dunlop fighting his way back up to 8th and Michael Rutter and Adrian Archibald completing the top ten.
James McBride was the best of the Privateers in 14th place, three places ahead of Portuguese star Luis Carreira with Stefano Bonetti the next highest placed in 19th. McBride has now jumped up to the top of the table, the Kettering rider having 49pts and holding onto a 13-point lead over Stephen Oates and Davy Morgan, the pair sharing second on 36 points.
In the battle for the best Newcomer, David Johnson was again the highest placed in 28th place, lapping at 122.312mph, with Hudson Kennaugh, Brian McCormack and Stephen Thompson in 33rd, 34th and 35th - all three also breaking the 120mph barrier for the first time. Meanwhile, Jenny Tinmouth again set a new personal best lap and a speed of 116.993mph firmly cements her place as the fastest female to have lapped the Mountain Course.