History was made in the opening race of the 2016 Isle of Man TT races, as Michael Dunlop shattered the lap and race records to record the first ever sub-17 minute lap of the Mountain Course to win the RST Superbike race.
The 27-year old’s first two laps were both under 17 minutes, the quickest being 133.393mph to win by 19s from Ian Hutchinson, who was also inside the outright lap record, with John McGuinness claiming third. His race winning time was a staggering 1m15.643s inside the old race record.
Dunlop signaled his intentions from the off, taking the lead at Glen Helen on the opening lap from Hutchinson by two seconds with James Hillier a further two seconds back in third. Michael Rutter, Dean Harrison and Conor Cummins completed the top six but the latter was soon out, retiring at Ballaugh.
By Ramsey, Dunlop had doubled his advantage over Hutchinson with Hillier still in third from Harrison and Rutter as McGuinness moved up into the top six.
Dunlop was on lap record pace from a standing start though and with a sensational lap of 133.369mph, he recorded the first ever sub-17 minute lap which gave him a 3.6s lead over Hutchinson whose lap of 132.892mph was also inside the old outright lap record. Harrison had taken over third from Hillier with McGuinness and Rutter now the top six, the quartet having all lapped at more than 130mph..
Hutchinson caught McGuinness on the road and his second lap was almost identical to his first at 132.884mph but Dunlop went quicker still and his second lap of 133.393mph extended his lead to 7.5s. Harrison was still in third but McGuinness was on the move and was up to fourth, only a quarter of a second adrift. Hillier had dropped back to fifth as Peter Hickman moved up to sixth.
Dunlop made over four seconds on Hutchinson in the pits and the lead was now 15s at Glen Helen with the Ulsterman having the Bingley rider in his sights on the road. Harrison was still secure in fourth with Hickman and Rutter now the top six as Hillier ran into trouble and dropped back to 13th.
By the end of the fourth lap, Hutchinson, McGuinness and Dunlop were all circulating on the road together with the Honda man getting back ahead of Hutchinson for a brief period. Also going great guns was David Johnson, the Norton man moving up to seventh after a lap of 129.473mph.
As the race entered its final third, the top three were secure in their positions but the battle for fourth was going down to the wire and by the end of lap five Hickman had moved ahead of Harrison albeit by 0.355s. Bruce Anstey had moved up into the top ten on the RCV213S, lapping at more than 130mph for the first time on the machine, as Hillier clawed his way back up to 11th.
At the head of the field though, Dunlop, Hutchinson and McGuinness were comfortable in the podium positions and although the latter lapped at 131.538mph on his fourth lap he was unable to make an impression on the front two so Dunlop swept to his 12th TT victory with Hutchinson having to settle for second and McGuinness third.
Further back, Hickman was charging and after lapping in excess of 131mph on his fourth lap, he posted his best lap on the sixth and final lap with a speed of 132.465mph to take his best ever TT position in fourth with Harrison and Rutter completing the top six.
David Johnson’s excellent ride on the Norton ended with a brilliant seventh place and a new best lap by the Norton at 130.872mph with Anstey – 12th on lap one – Gary Johnson and Lee Johnston completing the top ten.
In the race for the TT Privateer’s Championship, Daniel Hegarty took the maximum 25 points after finishing 13th overall, also posting a new personal best lap of the Mountain Course at 128.341mph.