Ian Hutchinson was a popular winner in the first Isle of Man TT supersport race as he clinched his first victory since his clean sweep in 2010 on Monday evening ahead of Sunday's superbike victor Bruce Anstey.
Hutchinson has not featured on the top step of the podium at the Isle of Man since suffering a horrific leg injury during a British Supersport race at Silverstone five years ago, but he has shown signs of his best form this season after a promising North West 200 meet and took second yesterday behind Anstey.
With the afternoon’s Superstock race postponed until Tuesday due to a non-racing incident earlier in the day, the riders were forced to wait until 6.30pm before getting the day’s competitive action underway, and it was Gary Johnson on the Yamaha R6 who asserted an early two second lead over Dean Harrison on the sister Yamaha.
However, by the end of the first lap Hutchinson has sneaked in front of Johnson by just 0.7 seconds, with Anstey and Harrison also in the mix.
Despite the promising start though that saw him catch first man away John McGuinness, Harrison was forced to retire at Sulby Crossroads, and Michael Dunlop was another big name to withdraw from the race on the second circuit – the Northern Irishman badly beaten up from a last-lap crash in the superbike race.
That elevated Anstey into second, with Johnson now battling fan-favourite Guy Martin for the final step on the podium.
As the field came into the pits for their one and only stop at the end of the second of four laps, Hutchinson had established a narrow 2.34 second lead, and fans would groan in frustration when the tannoy confirmed that Martin had incurred a 30-second time penalty for exceeding the 60kph speed limit by 0.9 seconds – you couldn’t help think back to the second place he lost in 2010 due to the same penalty.
But out in front Hutchinson and Anstey were duelling it out for the second consecutive day, and by the end of the third lap Hutcinson had stretched his lead out to six seconds as they began the final tour of the mountain course.
News would filter through that multiple race-winner Keith Amor crashed during his penultimate lap at Stella Maris but was quickly confirmed ok, and attentions quickly turned to matters at the front. Hutchinson by now had the finish line in his sight, and he opened the gap out further before crossing the line with 7.723 seconds in his pocket to send the crowd into huge and emotional celebrations among not just his team and fans but all sections of the Grandstand.
Anstey had already crossed the line to take second, while Johnson came home in third over 17 seconds back from the New Zealander. Martin would eventually come home in fifth, but had he not been guilty of speeding in the pit lane he would have been on the third step of the podium having finished just 21 seconds behind Johnson once the penalty had been added.
But the day belonged to Hutchinson, and the delighted 35-year-old, nicknamed the Bingley Bullet, stressed that he always felt in control of the race once he hit the front.
“I was always going to hear it one day,” Hutchinson said of the roar that greeted him on the return road. “[It’s] really good, my bikes just an absolute dream to ride and I felt like I was out there delivering pizzas!
“Starting number nine isn’t ideal and maybe they thought I wasn’t going to be up at the front, so I got stuck behind Guy for a bit and then he got out of the pits in front so I had to pass him again.
“I got settled in better today,” he added. “I put a lot of pressure on myself for that first race. This race, I was just cruising really.”
Hours before the race got underway, Tyco BMW confirmed that Williams Dunlop, brother of Michael, will not take any further part in proceedings after a practice crash at Laurel Bank on Monday left him with a broken rib and extensive bruising.
1. Ian Hutchinson
2. Bruce Anstey
3. Gary Johnson
4. Lee Johnston
5. Guy MartinReuse content