Bruce Anstey took his 10th Isle of Man TT victory in a fiercely contested Superbike race in Sunday to get the week-long action underway after a 24-hour delay.
After thousands of riders took to the mountain course to pay tribute to the late rider Simon Andrews, who died in an accident while competing in the North West 200 last year, the first race of the week began in the form of the RST Superbike race.
Having originally been pencilled in to feature on Saturday, predicted high winds and dangerous conditions meant that racing was postponed until Sunday as the medical helicopter would not be able to tend to any crashes around the island should it be needed.
But what transpired on Sunday was worth waiting for. From the get-go, it quickly emerged that there would be a tussle for victory throughout all six laps of the 37.733-mile course. With pre-race favourites Anstey, Ian Hutchinson and Michael Dunlop all in the mix, there was a surprise on the opening lap when 30-year-old James Hillier emerged out in front as he reached Ramsey Hairpin with less than a second covering the top three.
By the end of the first lap, Hutchinson, Hillier and Anstey had all taken turns out in front, and the top five all completed their first lap from a standing start at over 130mph average with Hutchinson ahead by 1.2 secs. However, an early casualty was crowd favourite Guy Martin, whose Tyco BMW let him down before he barely got going as he retired at Glen Lough on the opening lap.
Hutchinson extended his lead to over four seconds as they field came in for their first pit stops at the end of the second lap, and by the end of the third Dunlop had overhauled Hillier to take third and set his sights on the front two.
However, the fourth lap saw Anstey begin to reel in Hutchinson despite the later flashing through the Sulby speed trap at 194mph, and when the pair dived into the pits for a second and final time, Anstey had eroded the lead down to just 0.2889 secs. The New Zealander took the lead with a quicker stop than Hutchinson, and the race was on for the final two laps.
Anstey was proving unstoppable, and by the end of his fifth lap had stretched out a 5.307 sec lead over Hutchinson, with Dunlop dropping away in third after a difficult lap. The Kiwi was for the majority of his final lap on the record pace that he set last year, and crossed the finish line to take his 10th victory at the Isle of Man TT, though he had to make do with a final lap of 131.797mph to miss out on the record.
Dunlop, on course for a potential record-breaking lap on his final circuit at catching Hutchinson at an alarming rate, collided with a fallen backmarker’s stranded bike at the Nook and the race was soon red flagged as a result. Race organisers soon reported that Scott Wilson was believed to be the other rider involved, with the Kent-born 25-year-old said to have suffered a broken collarbone.
Gary Johnson also crashed out on the final lap after he was reported to have gone off at Guthries, but good news soon came as Johnson was confirmed ok and Dunlop arrived back at the Grandstand in an ambulance, albeit limping heavily.
1. Bruce Anstey (Honda/Valvoline Racing by Padgetts Motorcycles)
2. Ian Hutchinson (Kawasaki/Paul Bird Motorsport)
3. James Hillier (Kawasaki/Quattro Plant Muc-Off Kawasaki)Reuse content