It wasn’t the most closely-fought Isle of Man TT ever, it wasn’t even the most dramatic but it was the opening race of the Centenary TT races and by far one of the most popular victories when John McGuinness crossed the line to win Monday’s six-lap Superbike TT.
McGuinness isn’t normally the most emotional person but he was in tears after chalking up the 12th TT win of his career and he did it in the most emphatic fashion, crossing the line over 25 seconds ahead of second placed Guy Martin.
It wasn’t surprising McGuinness was overcome in the winner’s enclosure as he pulled off his Shoei lid.
The build up to the year’s races has been the most intense ever and the HM Plant Honda rider admitted he felt the pressure.
Early in practice he talked of carrying 10 tons of concrete on his back and after the race he said: “I feel like I’ve had 18 tons of sand lifted off my back this afternoon.
“There was all the hype since last winter, who’s doing this, who’s doing that. There’s so many good bikes and good riders so I knew it was going to be tough.
“I know everyone takes the piss out of my weight and I’m not getting any younger. I knew the young guys were snapping at me so I’ve trained hard all winter and never felt better.”
Competitors set off knowing the were damp patches around the course so there was never going to be any sensational record laps from the standing start as we’ve seen in the past. But McGuinness had almost two seconds in hand over Martin by the time they had rushed though the first timing point at Glen Helen and he gradually edged clear.
McGuinness said: “It was damp and there wasn’t much grip. I saw 2.5secs then 2.8secs on my boards and I kept pushing on.
“Then we got to the pit stops and it’s testament to my boys that have been with for the past couple of years that they turned me around really quick and gave me an extra cushion.”
Everyone talked about the potential 130mph lap and McGuinness said it’s still possible – but wasn’t a remote possibility in today’s conditions.
“I’m sure we can do it,” said McGuinness, “especially if the weather stays like this for the Senior. You know, you get that lack of adhesion flag and you’ve no idea what to expect, whether it’s a puddle that could have you down or just a damp patch.
“They’re not the conditions I like so I was being a bit cautious and to be honest I was shocked to do 128mph on the second lap so yeah, the speeds will come but they weren’t on today.
“I was real tense out there at the start and on the first lap I was still a bit nervous, hitting jumps wrong and getting sideways.
“I had my feet off the pegs at Rhencullen and at the 13th Milestone I had a big slide and that really scared me so it wasn’t all plain sailing out there.
“But I just wanted to win a Centenary TT race and I’ve never seen so many people out of the course. It was fantastic and I just hope the race did a good job for the TT. I felt like I was part of something special today, something to be really proud of.”
Martin was second on the Hydrex Honda, his second career TT podium after finishing third in the 2005 Senior TT.
He said: I didn’t come here to make up the numbers but I’ve watched all the TT videos so I’m not going to sit here and be miserable. I’m happy to be second but I want to win.”
Martin said after the North West he thought some harsh overtaking moves he put on McGuinness had fried the HM Plant Honda rider’s brain for the Isle of Man TT but he admitted he was wrong.
He said: “He’s the man isn’t he? My problem was I didn’t push hard enough on the first lap. I thought John would be a bit more cautious on the first lap too.
“I should have gone straight past Lougher when I caught him on the road but I sat watching what he was doing for too long.
“Once I got him I caught Ian Hutchinson and Martin Finnegan on the road and I was screaming at them through my visor to get out of the way.
“I’ve not won a TT yet and I’ll not be happy until I win a six lap TT but we’ve got some more races this week so let’s see how it goes.”
Hutchinson was third to complete the Honda 1-2-3.
He said: “I set off sand it was damp everywhere. Bruce Anstey broke down in front of me so I got the yellow flag there, then it was damp at Greeba and Glen Helen and I struggled to get my head around it all.
“By the time I got into a rhythm after the it stops John was long gone and Guy was ahead of me on the road.”
Martin Finnegan finished fourth on the Klaffi Honda and said he’s take it too easy in the early going, wary of the damp conditions.
Ian Lougher was fifth, complaining that the handling of his Stobart Honda had turned from being perfect enough during practice to lap at over 128mph to lacking stability everywhere.
Bruce Anstey went out on the first lap when a £40 ignition amplifier failed on the Relentless Suzuki.
Rutter’s MSS Kawasaki blew up and Nigel Beattie didn’t even start due to a broken gear lever.
McGuinness victory makes him the third most successful rider in TT history behind Joey Dunlop (26 wins) and Mike Hailwood (14 wins). McGuinness said: “I’m really pleased about that. I’m now ahead of Hizzy (Steve Hislop 11 wins), (Phillip) McCallen (11 wins) and Ago (Giacomo Agostini – 10 wins) so I’m not doing so bad.
Top 10 results:
Top 10 results:
1. John McGuinness
2. Guy Martin
3. Ian Hutchinson
4. Martin Finnegan
5. Ian Lougher
6. Ryan Farquhar
7. Adrian Archibald
8. Conor Cummins
9. Ian Armstrong
10. Steve Plater