HUTCHY HAS TO DIG DEEP
Top three separated by 10 seconds after six-lap battle
Ian Hutchinson took his 15th TT victory in Sunday’s Superbike TT race on the Tyco BMW.
With no more than ten seconds separating the first three riders for almost the entire six laps, Hutchy held off a last lap charge from Peter Hickman on the Smith’s BMW to take the win in a scintillating race. Dean Harrison, who had been the early pace-setter, finished third on the Silicone Engineering Kawasaki.
“It’s been the strangest race that I have ever been involved in,” a slightly dazed sounding Hutchy said after the epic encounter.
“Everything was changing all the time, I just didn’t know what to think. But it’s the TT, it’s six laps, and I just kept digging in.”
The race, which was delayed by 24 hours after practice week was severely disrupted by bad weather, had been billed as another round of the Hutchinson versus Michael Dunlop grudge match that began at last year’s event. Little heed was paid to that script as Kawasaki duo James Hiller (JG Speedfit Kawasaki) and Dean Harrison (Silicone Engineering Kawasaki) led the pack over the opening miles until Dunlop managed to get the nose of his Bennett’s Suzuki in front at the Bungalow.
It was a brief supremacy for the Northern Irishman as the GSX-R’S engine let go along the Cronk y Voddy straight on lap two and he ground to a halt at Handley’s. His only consolation was setting the fastest lap of the race at 131.135mph from a standing start.
In Dunlop’s absence Harrison and Hillier resumed the lead and Hutchy dropped from third to fourth on lap two as Hickman moved ahead of him.
The pitstops proved crucial. His team’s faster turnaround saw Hutchy emerge from Gasoline Alley in second place on lap three, 4.8 seconds behind Dean Harrison. By the end of the lap he was in the lead with just 3.5 seconds separating him from Harrison and Hickman. On the next circuit Hickman moved ahead of Harrison as Hillier came back into the mix, with a 130mph lap and a faster pitstop moving him back into second place on lap five. Hutchy’s second pitstop gave him a seemingly unassailable 10-second lead heading out on the last two laps but there was another twist in this intriguing TT.
On lap three Davey Lambert crashed at Greeba Castle and the Kawasaki rider was treated at the roadside for three laps, forcing the field to ride through the corner under waved yellow flags for the second half of the race.
On the final circuit Hutchy and Hillier encountered a cautious backmarker on the approach to Greeba, allowing Hickman to slash 5.5 seconds off the Bingley man’s lead. By Ramsey Hutchy’s lead was down to just 1.6 seconds but the 37-year-old pulled out almost four seconds over the Mountain. Hutchy’s lap times were consistent and although he didn’t break into the 131s, when he needed to push hard on the final circuit he was able to deliver the goods.
“The lead was just two seconds at Ballaugh, two at Sulby and two at the Gooseneck,” Hutchy said.
“Hickman is a class rider. I knew he wasn’t going to back off if he got a sniff of a win. I thought I really need to not make a mistake, so I sort of went a little bit slower to go a little bit faster. Coming to the last sector I thought I’m not going to win the race here but I will definitely lose it if I make a mistake so that’s probably the smoothest I have ridden the final sector... ever.”
‘Hickman is a class rider. I knew he wouldn’t back off if he got a sniff of a win’