Ian Hutchinson sped to a 15th Isle of Man TT victory in yesterday’s delayed six-lap Superbike race, as early leader Michael Dunlop pulled out with mechanical problems.
The race was delayed by 24 hours following a practice week blighted by poor weather conditions. With practice time at a premium, the festival-opening superbike race had the potential to see an upset, but from the start it was lap record holder and last year’s winner Dunlop who set the pace on the new Suzuki GSX-R1000.
The Northern Irish rider set an opening lap of 131.135mph but pulled out on lap two when an engine failure meant that there would be no glorious debut for the new GSX-R1000.
There was no glorious return either for Guy Martin, whose torrid time at Honda Racing continued when a gearbox problem caused him to crash on lap two. The TV star escaped serious injury, but was left nursing an injured wrist which may keep him out of the remainder of the week’s racing.
Dunlop’s departure opened the door for Yorkshireman Dean Harrison to lead, with James Hillier, Peter Hickman and Hutchinson making it a four-way battle for the lead.
After the race, Hutchinson was full of praise for his team – in particular for the swift work that they did during the two pitstops. He said: “We were practicing pitstops during the week and that has paid off for us. This year I switched to Dunlop tyres and the team were very supportive of this. They’ve built a new bike for me this year and everything’s been perfect. It was a tough race with lots of backmarkers, but that’s the same for everyone. I was finding it hard riding with James (Hillier) when I caught up with him, as the slipstream really affects the way that the bike reacts around here. Overall, I am delighted and it’s a great start to the week for us.”
The superbikes have their second outing on Friday, when they close TT 2017 in the Senior TT.