Isle of Man TT: Dunlop flies to Senior TT win and outright lap record

Post-race press conference gets a little awkward with Ian Hutchinson making accusations at Michael Dunlop regarding scrutineering issue and superbike engines

isle of man tt, senior tt, michael dunlop, ian hutchinson, john mcguinness, lap record 133 mph
Michael Dunlop literally flew to victory during the premier Senior TT event at the Isle of Man TT, setting a new outright lap record in the process of 133.962 mph as well as a new race time record.Photo courtesy of iomtt.com

Hawk Racing BMW’s Michael Dunlop saved his best for last at the Isle of Man TT, taking the premier Senior TT victory on Friday and bagging the new outright lap record for the Mountain Course at a stunning average speed of 133.962 mph. Dunlop was in control from the outset and kept rival Ian Hutchinson (who took a hat trick of wins with both Supersport races and the Superstock race) at bay, with Tyco BMW-mounted Hutchinson coming second by more than 20 seconds. Third place went to 44-year-old John McGuinness on the Honda Racing CBR1000RR, the TT veteran competing in his 91st TT race to hold off Dean Harrison on the Silicone Engineering Kawasaki and Bruce Anstey on the Valvoline Padgett’s Honda.

“I came out fightin’ today,” said a happy Dunlop afterward. “Can’t thank Stuart and Steve (Hicken, father and son team of Hawk Racing) enough, two lads worked hard to put a bike below me. It’s a family effort sort of thing; Stuart, his wife, Steve, his girlfriend, they all do it themselves, and it’s fantastic to be here and give them that privilege. I just got my hammer down, I was a bit peeved over Wednesday (when a mechanical issue forced him out of the second Supersport race), so I just said, ‘Right, it’s time to reinvent the wheel and have a go,’ so we dug deep and away we went. All them records in one race (outright lap record, Senior TT lap record, race distance record) you can’t go wrong with that can you? It’s probably a long time since a private bike came here and won races, so hat’s off to Stuart.”

isle of man tt, senior tt, michael dunlop, ian hutchinson, john mcguinness, lap record 133 mph
Tyco BMW's Ian Hutchinson tried his best but couldn't stop rival Dunlop from pulling away for the win. Later Hutchinson revealed that he was using a Superstock-spec engine in his superbike because the superbike engine was too peaky.Photo courtesy of iomtt.com

“Not bad for an old fart,” said McGuinness regarding his 46th podium finish at the TT. “I’ve said it before, this is my 20th TT, I remember going down Bray (Hill) on my little 250 Honda, I never thought I’d be standing here as a 44-year-old with my 46th podium. It’s been unbelievable, it’s been amazing, I’ve seen all sorts of things, I’ve come across great riders and I’ve been in some fantastic races. Last year I was sitting in that middle bit (the winner’s chair) but this year it’s Michael and Hutchy. I know how it is and how hard I rode out there. For them boys to take 34 seconds out of me, they’ve done an amazing job today. I’m well, well happy.”

The going rumor was that McGuinness was seriously thinking about retiring after this year’s TT, but the Morecambe man apparently feels otherwise. “Next year’s Fireblade is new, hopefully…well, that’s the trouble isn’t it, I might have to come back now. I thought I’d be hanging my boots up, but…”

“I was a little bit steady at the start, and then my first pit board said “P9” and I thought, ‘Maybe it really is time to hang my boots up.’ Then Hutchy came past going into Parliament Square and I got a really good tow off him. I even learned some things off these guys, how to ride even faster around here. Hat’s off to Michael for winning it, the best man won on the day.”

isle of man tt, senior tt, michael dunlop, ian hutchinson, john mcguinness, lap record 133 mph
TT veteran John McGuinness rode well to grab his 46th TT podium with a hard-earned third place in the Senior TT. The Morecambe Missile says he'd like to return next year instead of retire.Photo courtesy of iomtt.com

When pressed on whether he is really coming back to race the TT next year, McGuinness responded, “It’s funny, when you cross the line, all you want to do is come back again next year. It’s been a hard week. So much practice, the weather’s been incredible. I have to say I’m not as young as I used to be, and I was feeling it a little bit after practice week. I’m excited, if the new bike comes out and it’s good, hopefully come back and give these guys a run next year, we’ll see. I want to race again. This place is golden, it’s the Isle of Man. I’ve nothing left to prove, 46 podiums and a few wins over the years. But that race, I still enjoyed it, and I still enjoy riding with these lads, it was a great six laps. It’s hard to let go.”

Things in the post-race press conference quickly turned a little ugly when second-place finisher Ian Hutchinson was given his chance to speak to the press. The controversy apparently began when the Hawk Racing team issued a protest against Hutchinson’s Came BPT Racing Yamaha after Wednesday's Supersport race for using oversize pistons, a claim that was denied after a thorough inspection of his R6. Hutchinson then claimed that Dunlop was given preferential treatment for engine parts from BMW; both Hutchinson’s and Dunlop’s teams purchased their engines direct from the Munich factory race department.

isle of man tt, senior tt, michael dunlop, ian hutchinson, john mcguinness, lap record 133 mph
The smiles in the winner's enclosure at the Senior TT event quickly turned to frowns and barbs at the post-race press conference when Hutchinson (right) accused Dunlop (middle) of spreading rumors and getting preferential engine treatment from BMW.Photo courtesy of iomtt.com

“I’d like to thank the Tyco BMW team and also BMW for supplying my team and Michael’s team with full factory engines this week,” began Hutchinson, before starting into Dunlop and his team. “But we struggled with the engine we had last week and the power was a little bit different to the engine Michael’s got. The engine we had last week just has no bottom end and all top end, so it’s quite difficult to ride. The later-spec engine that Michael’s team have has bottom end and top end. We didn’t have that engine here so I opted to run the Superstock engine in the Superbike today. You know, the bike was great and it was faultless, but it wasn’t the right thing to do to win the race. I knew we’d be down a little bit on speed but I could ride the bike how I wanted to ride it. I’ve done six laps the best I could today and that’s it, you know, we’ve been beaten.”

“I’ve done my best to congratulate Michael all week when he’s done well, you know. On Wednesday I was pretty disgusted about the behavior to be honest. Scrutineers were suspect about something; there was nothing wrong, and then Michael’s team protested us. And then he tried to spread a rumor that we had oversize pistons. So I need to have a pretty big think about coming back to the TT to be honest, unless the organizers can explain what was going on there.”

isle of man tt, senior tt, michael dunlop, ian hutchinson, john mcguinness, lap record 133 mph
Even the Honda RC213V-S with race kit fitted and Bruce Anstey riding (2) couldn't hold off the relentless charge of Michael Dunlop on his Hawk Racing BMW S 1000 RR superbike. Anstey eventually finished fifth.Photo courtesy of iomtt.com

When asked to respond to Hutchinson’s accusations, Dunlop was non-plussed. “I don’t need to,” said Dunlop. “It was the scrutineer that pointed it out, not me, so that’s just the way it goes. Whatever you’re into. He wants to badger me, that’s no problem, I’ve no problem (with that). I’m a big enough man to take it on the chin, it makes no difference to me. My engines are no different than anybody else’s in the superbike, they showed themselves. We bought five engines—and I would like to say thank you to the boys in Munich. Even though BMW got rid of me, I’ve still got good friends in there. They put together a good engine for me, but it’s no different than anybody else. They’re factory engines, the same that everybody else can buy, they’re the exact same thing.”