Riders have always coveted the crown for the gruelling and revered Senior TT. The 6 laps around the course are unforgiving, and this eternal classic on the TT calendar has an exclusive membership. Only 45 riders have made it on to Senior TT’s roster. Of these only 1, the legendary Mike Hailwood, collected 7 Senior TT trophies. Today, another man shared that honor. John McGuinness gave it back to the naysayers today, smashed through records, set his own new records and won the 2015 Isle of Man Senior TT by a whopping 14.2 seconds. At the same time, he added to his total TT victories, bringing it up to 23. He came that much more closer to the elusive 26 wins as set by the great Joey Dunlop.
That’s not all. McGuinness obliterated Bruce Anstey’s 2014 Superbike race outright lap record by clocking in a blistering speed of 132.701mph. Keeping him company on the podium were James Hillier and Ian Hutchinson in second and third place.
The race started up on time, but was red-flagged on the second lap after an accident involving Jamie Hamilton. His condition is being described as serious, but not considered life threatening.
The race then restarted, this time with 4 laps. It became obvious soon enough that McGuinness had embraced the take-no-prisoners attitude. Hillier had taken the lead at Glen Helen on lap 1, but it didn’t last for long. McGuinness shaved off Hillier’s advantage to six-tenths of a second at Ramsey. Hutchinson was in the third with Anstey; Michael Dunlop and Peter Hickman took the fifth and sixth spots. Guy Martin seemed under siege with bad luck as a poor start saw him all the way down at the 13th spot. But he soon made his way up to 7th, powering through. Hillier lost his lead at Bungalow with McGuinness. Meanwhile McGuinness had set a new lap record of 131.850mph, the fastest ever from a standing start!
On lap 2, it soon become obvious that records would fall. McGuinness just extended his lead and clocked in a stunning new outright lap record of 132.701mph. Hutchy was still in 2nd spot, but a mistake at the only pitstop, when he overshot at Signpost, saw him lose 10 seconds to McGuinness. Hillier had hung on to 3rd place, but the 4th position had seen a little swapping.
Martin was on a roll. He had pushed through and made up ground. The Tyco BMW rider had broken the old outright lap record with a lap of 132.398mph and in doing so, displaced Bruce Anstey who had now been consigned to 5th place. Michael Dunlop still in a lot of pain was in 6th place. The first 11 riders had all lapped at more than 130mph. It was unheard of!
Lap 3 was all about the Morecambe Missile staking his claim to the first step on the podium. He tucked in, put his head down and focused on staying ahead. He had pushed really hard on the second lap, and was now trying to stay ahead. McGuinness later said at the post-race press conference, “…Lap 2 I just gave it everything I could and the reaction from the pits was, just it felt like when I broke the first 130 mile… the reaction on the 3rd lap was phenomenal…I thought if anybody is coming with me then, then good luck, they can have it. Because I had nothing left at lap 2, I had pushed so hard.”
The final lap began and McGuinness had increased the gap over Hutchy to a phenomenal 17.5s. Hillier was 6.6s further behind and trying to stay ahead of Martin who looked like he was vying for a podium position. As the crowds cheered and waved McGuinness, the battle for 2nd had heated up. Hillier took the second place off Hutchy at Ballaugh, quickly extending his gap to 4 seconds. Hutchinson just about managed to stay ahead of a charging Martin who took 4th place.
Michael Dunlop rounded off the troublesome week and a painful race at 5th place with a final lap of 132.515mph. Conor Cummins took 6th place with the awesome Peter Hickman taking 7th place and Anstey in 8th.
As Hutchy pulled into the pits, it became obvious that there was something wrong with his bike. He later said in the post-race conference, “I left the pits and got the hammer down and I was really enjoying riding. And then it sounded like the engine was starting to go. It was just like a small rattle at first, but it was the exhaust had blown the front pipe off and eventually it went totally flat and took the power out of it and was super noisy…I just wanted to get back and stand on the podium more than anything…” A disappointed Hutchinson however had to make peace with the loss. He had however won the overall Joey Dunlop TT Championship.
But the man of the moment was definitely McGuinness. After the ignominy of a terrible week and not being able to battle with the front-runners right at the top, the 43-year-old fought back. He showed them exactly who the boss was. As he told a reporter in the parc ferme, right after winning the race, “The real John McGuinness made an appearance today.”