Hickman claims maiden TT win in thrilling RL360º Superstock TT Race
Peter Hickman (Smiths Racing BMW) claimed his first victory at the Isle of Man TT Races, fuelled by Monster Energy, when he took a sensational RL360 Superstock race by 4.4s from Michael Dunlop (MD Racing BMW) with Dean Harrison (Silicone Engineering Kawasaki) in third.
The race saw the top three swap positions from the throughout the race but a stunning new lap record of 134.403mph on his final lap, just outside Harrison’s outright lap record from Saturday’s RST Superbike race, enabled the Burton upon Trent rider to come home in a new race record some 58.7s quicker than the old mark.
Harrison led Dunlop by three and a half seconds through Glen Helen on the first lap with Johnson in third and Rutter, Hillier and David Johnson completing the top six. But it had been a slow start to the race for Hickman who was down in an unfamiliar tenth spot after running straight on at Braddan Bridge with newcomer Davey Todd flying in ninth place.
By Ballaugh, Harrison had extended his lead to 4.4s and through Ramsey for the first time it had crept up again to 4.8s. Hickman had got going and had jumped up to third, six seconds behind Dunlop and 3.5s ahead of Rutter. Gary Johnson was in fifth and Conor Cummins in sixth as just two seconds covered fourth to eighth placed Hillier who had dropped to the back of the group.
An opening lap of 133.073mph was just a whisker outside Ian Hutchinson’s lap record from 2016 for the class and he was now 4.3s ahead of Dunlop with Hickman only a further 3.3s behind in third. The gap to Rutter was bigger, at 12.8s, with Cummins, David Johnson, Hillier and Gary Johnson now the running order as Todd completed the lap in a brilliant ninth place after a lap of 127.625mph.
As they got to Glen Helen, Harrison’s lead was up to 5.7s as Hickman closed to within 1.4s of Dunlop and by Ballaugh, he’d nosed ahead of the Ballymoney rider by 0.8s. The race was all about these three riders as Rutter was now over 22s adrift in fourth.
Through Ramsey Hairpin, Hickman had cut Harrison’s lead to 2.4s with Dunlop only 2.2s back in third. Rutter was still in fourth but his advantage over David Johnson was a slender 1.5s with Hillier only 0.8s behind the Australian. There was disappointment for Cummins though as he retired.
At the head of the field, Hickman was really pressing on and a sensational lap of 134.077mph saw him arrive at his pit stop with a 1.2s lead over Harrison with Dunlop only 1.8s behind in third, just three seconds covering the trio. David Johnson had moved up to fourth ahead of Rutter and Hillier but it was extremely tight as just one second separated the three riders.
Meanwhile, Todd became the second fastest newcomer ever with his lap 127.890mph moving him up to an unbelievable seventh place.
The pit stops shuffled the order with Dunlop hitting the front for the first time at Glen Helen on lap three, his lead over Harrison half a second with Hickman slipping back to third albeit only a further 0.7s in arrears. Johnson was holding station in fourth but Hillier had moved up to fifth at the expense of Rutter whilst Gary Johnson was another high profile retirement.
Dunlop still led at Ballaugh but only just with Hickman back up to second and only a miniscule 0.178s adrift. Harrison was still very much in contention, one second behind Hickman and Hillier had now got in front of Johnson albeit by 0.047s.
Hickman was back ahead by 0.87s as he rounded Ramsey Hairpin with Harrison now 1.7s behind Dunlop whilst the battle for fourth continued to rage, Johnson now back ahead of Hillier by 0.088s!
The scene was set for a thrilling final lap and although just 0.5s split leader Hickman and Dunlop, it looked like Harrison was racing for third as he’d slipped almost five seconds behind Dunlop.
Hickman added another eight tenths of a second to his lead at Glen Helen only for Dunlop to pull two of those tenths back on the run to Ballaugh. And by Ramsey, Dunlop’s charge continued as he brought the gap down to 0.146s.
However, Hickman responded immediately and set a sensational sector time from Ramsey to the Bungalow, the fastest ever, as he did from the Bungalow to Cronk ny Mona and a with a new lap record of 134.403mph, just a fraction outside Harrison’s outright record from Saturday, gave him his maiden TT win.
Dunlop was an eventual 4.4s back in second with Harrison in third and Johnson, Hillier and Rutter filling the top six places. Martin Jessopp, Sam West, Ivan Lintin and Todd completed the top ten, West the first privateer to finish.
Dunlop (70) extended his lead over Hickman (41) in the Joey Dunlop Championship to 29 points with Hillier in third on 40. West now leads the TT Privateer’s Championship on 58 points.
Following on from his fifth place on Saturday, Michael Rutter claimed his second top six finish at the 2018 Isle of Man TT Races on Monday with the Bathams Racing rider taking a fine sixth place in the afternoon’s four-lap Superstock race.
Having placed fourth overall on the practice leaderboard after lapping the 37.73-mile Mountain Course at 129.744mph, the Bridgnorth resident was hopeful of a strong performance in the race on the BMW S1000RR and an excellent opening lap of 130.457mph put him in a good fourth place.
It was incredibly close though with just 4.8s covering fourth to eighth place and this could be seen on lap two when, despite lapping quicker at 130.590mph, he slipped back to fifth behind Australian rider David Johnson.
The gaps had closed up even more though with one second splitting Johnson and sixth placed James Hillier, Michael the filling in the sandwich. The third lap saw Hillier push Michael back to sixth place and, try as he might, he was unable to reclaim the position and with his final lap being 129.117mph, he crossed the line in sixth place after 150.92-miles of racing.
Michael Rutter: “I’m a bit disappointed with today’s result as sixth place wasn’t what I wanted especially as my first pit board after Ballaugh on the opening lap said ‘P3’. When I saw that I told myself to get stuck in and have a go but I made a few small mistakes, being in the wrong gear on a couple of occasions and I just didn’t feel particularly confident with all sorts of things going through my mind.”
“I was a bit slow coming into the pit stop and thought about pulling in at one stage as I simply didn’t feel like I was riding very well but I plugged away and got to the finish. For some reason, I found it hard to concentrate today so I was happy to get sixth given how the race unfolded and it’s obviously good for the team to have taken two top-six finishes in the first two races.”
Ivan Lintin claimed two more top ten finishes at the Isle of Man TT races on Monday with the Dafabet Devitt Racing rider taking ninth and tenth respectively in the four-lap Superstock and Supersport races, also setting personal best laps in each.
Riding the Kawasaki ZX-6R, the morning’s Supersport race got proceedings underway where the Lincolnshire rider had posted the eighth fastest time during practice at 124.376mph and a solid opening lap of 123.134mph put him in twelfth place. Second time around, the 33-year old improved further still and a lap of 124.106mph enabled him to move up a spot to 11th.
A good pit stop and third lap saw him maintain his position and close to within 2.8s of tenth placed Derek McGee and he really flew on his final lap with a speed of 124.720mph, a personal best on the 600cc machine, allowing him to overhaul the Irish rider to take his second successive top ten finish at TT2018.
With less than two hours to go before the afternoon’s Superstock race, held over the same distance of four laps, there wasn’t much time to rest and an opening lap of 126.631mph saw him slot into 14th place on the Kawasaki ZX-10R.
From that moment on though, he continually moved forward with his second lap of 127.306mph moving him up the leaderboard to 12th. However, he saved the best until last and a superb final lap of 129.183mph, a new personal best lap around the 37.73-mile Mountain Course, elevated him to ninth place at the chequered flag to make it three top ten finishes from three races.
Ivan Lintin: “It’s been a really good day and if someone had offered me two top ten finishes this morning, I’d have taken it there and then. The 600cc race went faultlessly and I was pleased to have lapped quicker than what I had done in practice and it could have been 125mph+ but for having to back off considerably for yellow flags over the Mountain.”
“In the Superstock race, Sam West caught me early on so I was happy to follow him as he was dragging me along through the twisty stuff along the bottom half of the course. When we got to the Mountain, I felt I could go quicker than him and after the pit stop, I managed to get ahead of him and push on. He caught me back up but I rode around the outside of him at Parliament Square on the last lap and had a real go over the Mountain so I was delighted to set a lap in excess of 129mph and finish ninth. It’s been a good day so a big thanks to the whole team.”
Ben Constable, Team Co-owner: “It’s been an awesome day and with two top ten finishes from today’s two races, we couldn’t be happier. The Superstock race was especially pleasing as we fitted a new engine yesterday and after running it on the dyno, the first time it was used was when it went down Bray Hill on the first lap! It ran faultlessly and with another great pit stop, Ivan continued to move up the leaderboard and he was rewarded with an excellent ninth place and a superb 129mph+ lap.”
“The morning’s 600cc race went equally well with another personal best lap and piece by piece, everything is coming together this week. We certainly won’t be putting any pressure on Ivan but the magical 130mph lap isn’t far away and having finished in the top ten in every race, it’s a very happy team this evening.”
Ivan has another busy day on Wednesday with two more races taking place, the second Supersport race at 10.45am and the Lightweight at 2.10pm.