John McGuinness did exactly as he promised as the Honda Racing rider turned it on when it mattered most to win the Isle of Man TT PokerStars Senior race, breaking the outright lap record in the process and equalling Mike Hailwood’s all-time record of seven Senior victories.
The 43-year-old had endured a tough week, with the victory in the TT Zero on Wednesday somewhat overshadowed by disappointing results in his four other solo races.
However, McGuinness was clearly in the mood for it on Friday as the stormed out at the start of the race, before a serious crash suffered by Jamie Hamilton saw the red flag come out. Officials would later confirm that the 24-year-old Northern Irishman had suffered "serious injuries but not life threatening at this stage".
Ian Hutchinson, who has already taken victories in both Monster Energy Supersport races and the RL360 Superstock event this week, had actually taken the lead when the red flag came out on lap two, and a 2.45pm restart was penned in with the race distance reduced from six laps to four.
As soon as the race restarted though McGuinness set the pace out in front, and his opening lap registered an average speed of over 131mph from a standing start, yet the best was still to come.
The “Morecombe Missile” was visibly pushing around every inch of the Mountain Course, and he blitzed the outright lap record with a 132.701mph average speed to beat Bruce Anstey’s previous best of 132.298mph set in last year’s Superbike race.
As McGuinness emerged from the one and only pit stop he would make, a look at the timesheet made pleasant reading for the Honda Racing crew, with Hutchinson nearly 11 seconds behind in second. He’d have been forgiven for letting off given the dangers that the Snaefell Mountain Course poses, yet a determined McGuinness pressed on as he stretched his lead out to over 17.5 seconds at the end of the penultimate lap.
Behind him, Guy Martin was attempting to recover from an atrocious start that saw him behind all his main rivals, but the Tyco BMW rider would have set a new Senior lap record with his lap of 132.398mph had McGuinness not just put in the fastest lap, although Martin could at least boast his quickest ever lap around the Isle of Man course.
But as McGuinness stretched his lead, Hutchinson was fading, and that allowed the Quattro Plant Muc-Off Kawasaki of James Hillier to move into second on the final lap of the race.
But the day belonged to the “King of the Mountain”, who took the chequered flag to a huge cheer from the crowd and secured his 23rd victory around the Isle of Man, just three short of the all-time record set by the late Joey Dunlop.
McGuinness admitted immediately after the race that he feared something had gone wrong when he arrived in the pits at the end of lap two, only to realise that he has smashed the lap record when all the fans on the next lap cheered him every inch of the way.
“It was incredible,” said McGuinness. “I thought ‘oh dear what’s happening’. The whole of lap three people were cheering.
“It was beautiful conditions, the bike was perfect. It was the real John McGuinness who turned up today.”
Hillier took second with a blistering 132.414mph on his final tour, while Hutchinson (Paul Bird Motorsport Kawasaki) held off Martin to take third and with it the Joey Dunlop Trophy for the best accumulative results throughout the week.
Despite finishing down in fifth, Michael Dunlop joined the 132mph club with his final lap clocking a 132.515mph average to become the fifth rider to surpass the incredible mark.
1. John McGuinness
2. James Hillier
3. Ian Hutchinson
4. Guy Martin
5. Michael Dunlop
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