2022 Isle of Man TT
Superbike TT Saturday
By Ben McCook
Peter Hickman dominated the RST Superbike TT Saturdays on the Isle of Man. The Lincolnshire man finished 39 seconds ahead of Dean Harrison, with Michael Dunlop completing the podium 18.2 seconds behind. Hickman devastated the opposition on his Gas Monkey FHO BMW in such a way that you couldn’t help but wonder if the others really stood a chance. He set a new race record in 1h43m 58.564s.
Peter Hickman – P1
What a race! The bike was absolutely brilliant today and never missed a beat, so a big thank you to the team for all their hard work during the week. For a change I was quick on the first lap and took the lead straight away, not like previous years where I was down a bit in the standings so once there I just head down. I was able to pull a gap to take second place and control the lead, changing gears and letting off the throttle where I could to put less pressure on the engine. There’s no need to push harder or faster than necessary, so I just settled into a good rhythm. The bike looks the part, it goes the part and I’m happy to start the week with a victory.
It was also a win taken on the rubber-treaded Dunlop with second-placed Dean Harrison also on Dunlops. However, the delamination issue that plagued their slicks at the NW200 surfaced again during the Superbike TT, with Davey Todd rear end delaminating.
Todds’ teammate Conor Cummins also dropped out on the mountain as he battled for a podium finish, but it was unconfirmed if Cummins’ problem was also tire related. The SBK TT saw many fanciful riders drop out, with Lee Johnston, Gary Johnson and more failing to complete all six laps.
The race was held in glorious conditions with fans perched at every vantage point available. The island is absolutely packed. On the eve of the race, there were still punters frantically looking for last-minute accommodation on social media platforms. Today the increase in attendance was more than noticeable as throngs of spectators poured into position ahead of the race. On the track side, it was electric.
John McGuinness wore the number 1 plate on his 100th TT start and was the first to go. However, there was near calamity seconds later when a football bounced off the road just at the top of the frighteningly steep Bray Hill. Spectating fans in the adjacent walled gardens waved and whistled enthusiastically in hopes of alerting someone who could stop McPint before he reached the stage.
However, being so close to the start (about half a km), they had no chance. Luckily, the Honda racing main man missed the ball along the way; it is unclear at this point if he knew anything about it. The ball continued to float down the lane until the third man, Michael Rutter, passed. It was then ripped off the road and thankfully taken to safety. The heart in the mouth from the shift.
In the early stages before his tire issues, Davey Todd showed great promise and looked like he wanted to fight for the win. In the Premier League, he was neck and neck with Harrison, just 6 seconds ahead of Hickman. But Todd would retire on lap 2 at Sulby with tire problems.
Team boss Clive Padgett phoned the Sulby Glen Hotel (where the live stream had shown Todd is now) to inquire about the welfare of his riders before lamenting tire problems at the ‘antenna.
A familiar story then developed when the English; Hickman and Harrison, began arguing for the lead. However, Hickman seemed to have all the answers whenever Harrison asked him a tough question. He set the fastest lap of the race (133.461 mph) on lap two and after the first pit stop the gap increased to 16.8 seconds. Hickman would indicate after the race that establishing that buffer was key to sealing victory. It starts to feel a little easier (once you have that gap), he said. From then on, he seemed to do whatever he wanted.
As Hickman moved out of reach, interest turned to the race for second place. Todd and Cummins were out and Hickman (no.10) caught Dunlop (no.6) on the road. Dunlop was able to hang on to the race leader and keep up with his pace. This brought the Hawk Suzuki rider closer to Harrison who was going it alone as the road leader (he started No. 2 and caught up to McGuinness early on). Dunlop was able to take advantage of Hickman’s superior speed until round 2 of pit stops when the pair were separated. At that point Michael stopped making inroads on second place and at this point it looked like the top 3 were locked in.
During post-race interviews with Monster Energy Stage, Harrison complained that he had serious problems with the brakes and that he had to continuously pump them while he raced or they wouldn’t be there when he raced. would need it.
Michael Dunlop conceded he was simply struggling to find the last little bit needed to match the fastest men.
While the final two rounds were all about bringing it home for the podium men, an interesting fight was brewing behind them. Ian Hutchinson and John McGuinness fought hard for 4th place in a fight that went to the wire. Hutchinson finally got it in nine seconds, but it was a solid performance from both men, and each will surely be pleased with their day’s work.
John McGuinness MBE – P5
“I’m so happy with today’s result. Coming back here on the Fireblade and with this team has been like coming home, I’m so grateful to Harv (Havier Beltran’s team manager) for bringing me back to the team. And at the end of the day, it’s my 100th start, it was a wonderful day to celebrate with my family, the team and the fans. I’ve never seen so many on the course, and they’re all waving. It was special.
“It was also serious. I’m on a Superbike and there’s no escaping it, it’s hard to ride, really powerful stuff. Before the start, we thought bringing him home to the top six would be a realistic result, so it’s good to do that, although I can’t deny that I let the team down a bit. Again I know my limits, you have to bring him home. Also, I have to take my cap off my teammate, Glenn. It was an incredible result, and lapping nearly 130 mph on your first run is a special skill.!”
Jamie Coward was a surprising 6th ahead of a rather disappointing James Hillier in 7th.
Jamie loose – P6
The changes we made before and after the final qualifying session on Friday night were a definite step in the right direction and although I had a slight problem with the bike when the fuel load lightened up, I quickly understood and I was able to continue. The conditions were perfect and after a consistent first lap I worked my way into the race and the more I relaxed the faster the lap times came. It was a pretty lonely race, I think I only saw Lee Johnston and Michael Rutter on the six laps and it’s a shame to have missed fifth by such a small margin, but I’m more than satisfied of sixth place in the Superbike race. A big thank you to the team as they worked all week and late into the night so the hard work paid off and it’s nice to start the race week off right.
There was great excitement surrounding Glenn Irwin’s 8th place finish. Irwin posted a remarkable lap at 129.85, becoming the fastest newcomer ever (a title Hickman has held since 2014). Irwin has done some serious homework over the past few years and it has been said more than once that his preparation has been meticulous. Weather permitting, Irwin should surely enter the 130 club by the end of the week. His talent is undeniable and if his progress continues on this trajectory, Hickman et al will have another serious rival to face in the not too distant future.
Glenn Irwin – P8
“It was an amazing day. Before the start, I felt very nervous, I was quite emotional! I never felt like this before. But once I started, I felt really good. I think I probably respected the bike too much when it was fitted with new tires and a full tank of fuel on laps one, three and five, but I think it’s important to do that.
“After the second pit stop I could see that the gap to James Hillier had increased too much so I concentrated on hitting my marks, although I was also watching the crowd, there were so many people on the course, I really wanted to wave back!
“I am delighted to get the lap record for this newcomer. In my head, it was always a possibility, but I didn’t expect to achieve it so soon. I also didn’t expect the laps to pass so quickly. I remember starting the second round thinking I wasn’t there already. It was really nice, and hats off to Hicky, Dean and Michael. The guys here are on another level.
“I am also very proud of my teammate. We had a good chat before the race and another after. Not only was it his 100th TT, but he proved he was still going strong and consistent. It was an impressive result. I also want to thank the team, they were brilliant. And a special thanks to Harv, he brought Honda Racing UK back to this level. I know there’s been a lot of effort, a lot of pressure on him to achieve what we have at BSB and now here so he gets a huge pat on the back from me for what we’ve achieved together in as a team..”
The festive atmosphere induced by the fantastic SBK action was short-lived. The following Sidecar race was red flagged shortly after it started. Only a handful of outfits had the chance to start the race before the stop. It was later confirmed that 35-year-old experienced French competitor Olivier Lavorel, 35, died in an accident which happened at Agos Leap, just under 1 mile into the course, on the first lap of the race.
Saturday Superbike TT Race Results
- Peter Hickman (BMW)
- Dean Harrison (Kawasaki) +39.199s
- Michael Dunlop (Suzuki) +18.427s
- Ian Hutchinson (BMW) +02.00.457
- John McGuinness (Honda) +10.782s
- Jamie Coward (Yamaha) +00.438s
- James Hillier (Yamaha) +25.439s
- Glenn Irwin (Honda) +6.851
- Shaun Anderson (Suzuki) +49.795s
- Dominic Herberston (BMW) +30.173s
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