TT's greatest races: superbike TT (week 1)
MCN Greatest TT Races
The 2020 TT may have been cancelled, but while it’s hugely disappointing for riders, teams and fans it gives us time to reflect on the amazing races from TT history.
MCN has picked the brains of some of the most influential people in the paddock to nominate what is the best TT race per class from the last 25 years.
Over the next six weeks we’ll focus on a class at a time starting this week with the greatest Superbike/F1 race that took place between 1994 and 2019.
Our panel of experts are made up of the greatest living TT racer John McGuinness, esteemed team boss Clive Padgett, 11-time winner Phillip McCallen, TT boss Paul Phillips, Senior TT winner Dean Harrison plus road racing photographer Stephen Davison.
Then it’s your turn to vote on what you think is the greatest Superbike TT of the last 25 years. The winning race will then feature in MCN’s special TT supplement giving in depth insight in to how the race unfolded.
Voting will put you in the running to win some great prizes starting with three, three-month digital subscriptions to MCN.
2013 Superbike TT - ‘I was dressed like Joey and Michael Dunlop ran away with it’
John McGuinness, 23-time TT winner
"You always think about your own races for stuff like this. I won a few Superbike races and the ones I did win I went out and smoked everyone else so they weren’t really great races. 2013 was good though. I was in Joey Dunlop colours and it caused a bit of pressure.
"I was dressed like Joey, my bike looked like Joey’s and there were a lot of cameras on me. I rode like the district nurse on the first lap, then I caught Cameron Donald on the road yet was still getting P3 on my board and I couldn’t work it out. But it turned out I had got a 30s penalty for speeding in the pit lane, which I was slowly able to work out myself during the race because there’s no room to get that sort of info on your pitboard.
"Michael Dunlop ran away with it to take the victory which was fitting as it was a tribute to Joey. Cameron was second and the icing on the cake for the tribute was that I snuck it on to the podium and set a new outright lap record on the last lap.
"I was a bit disappointed with myself because I had the pace, but I didn’t put the race together – that’s why you’ve got to string six laps together, not one, if you want to win."
2008 Superbike TT - ‘The race Guy should have won’
Paul Phillips, TT Boss
"In terms of drama it has to be the 2008 race. It was the first year of the new Fireblade, Guy Martin was on the Hydrex bike and John McGuinness was riding for Padgetts and it was between those two. Guy was late to the start so that was a bit chaotic but he was quickly into the lead and for me it was the one time he was the best rider in the race and he should have won it.
"But the bike eventually stopped with a crank sensor fault, McGuinness inherited the lead, but he then stopped out on track with exactly the same fault. That left the two Relentless Suzukis of Cameron Donald and Bruce Anstey who ended up on the road together circulating for a good few laps and Cameron won his first ever TT. It was a dramatic race and with Adrian Archibald in third it was a Suzuki podium lockout."
2003 Formula 1 TT – ‘He lost a gear but still took second’
Dean Harrison, Three-time TT winner
"It’s a hard year to talk about because it was the year David Jefferies got killed so as a result not much about the races that year is remembered, but the Superbike race was brilliant. Adrian Archibald was on the TAS Suzuki and John McGuinness was riding Paul Bird’s Monstermob Ducati. The race was really close and when McGuinness came into the pits he’d lost fourth gear, but he continued and he still managed to finish second.
"It meant he had to go from third to fifth and I guess the only saving grace was that he was on a torquey V-twin, but even so... If you tried doing that on my current race bike it would be like labouring a dead horse. I think McGuinness would have won that race without the problem. Can you imagine that! The last time a Ducati won a Superbike race was Mike Hailwood so it would have been a massive milestone!"
2015 Superbike TT - ‘Bruce set the first-ever 132mph lap’
Clive Padgett, Padgetts Racing
"I’m biased here because it was Bruce Anstey’s first Superbike win and he was riding our bike. But saying that, even if he hadn’t been on our bike I would have applauded it because Bruce wanted it so much and he is such a lovely bloke.
"But it’s the back story that makes it so interesting because, although it’s never been common knowledge, at the end of 2014 Suzuki wanted us to run their team at the TT in 2015. Commercially it would have been the right thing to do, but not many people will remember that in the 2014 Senior, Bruce ran on at the Nook and dropped right back to 12th place before setting the first-ever 132mph lap on the last lap.
"That meant we were able to turn up in 2015 on exactly the same bike as Bruce had been fastest on the year before and it played into our hands because after the first night of practice where he was one of the quickest it then rained and rained until race day, so we went into the race and hit the ground running and Bruce got his first big bike win!"
2000 Superbike TT – ‘Joey’s most famous victory’
Stephen Davison, Photographer & Journalist
"At 48, Joey’s TT glory days seemed over. In 1999 David Jefferies and the new V&M Yamaha R1 had blown Honda and Dunlop away in both the F1 and Senior. Joey remained certain he could win another big bike TT. The threat to leave Honda if they didn’t provide a competitive bike forced the manufacturer into supplying Dunlop with their new SP-1 and a WSB-spec engine. Untested, it was almost unrideable around the TT.
Rumour has it Joey decided to run a tyre from a firm other than the official supplier, which helped settle the nervous SP-1. Iffy track conditions also played into his hands as Jefferies struggled on the opening lap. When the V&M Yamaha ground to a halt with a broken clutch at Glen Helen on lap 2, Dunlop already had an unassailable lead. The TT’s greatest ever rider used all of his guile and skill to claim his most famous victory."
1997 Formula 1 TT - ‘It’s so easy to burn yourself out’
Phillip McCallen, 11-time TT winner
"I’d had to ride so hard to win in 1996 on the RC45, so there were some pretty strong conversations with Honda before heading to the 1997 TT. My mechanics Dennis Willey and Steve Mellor went to Japan to build the bikes and myself and Michael Rutter, who was riding for V&M, both had full factory engines and electronics. There were a lot of RC45s on the Isle of Man grid that year, as well as myself and Rutter, Joey was my teammate and Ian Simpson was on the second V&M bike.
"Having taken four race victories in 1996, the plan for ’97 was to win five and it got off to a perfect start. It’s easy to burn yourself and your bike out at the TT and the first race is often the hardest because of all the nerves, but in 1997 I didn’t have any excuses, I was at the peak of my career and I was on the best bike on the grid."
*T&Cs: All those voting will be entered in to a prize draw to win a three-month digital subscription to MCN. The draw closes at midnight on May 5, 2020 and is open to those aged 16 and over. There is one prize consisting of a three-month digital subscription to Motorcycle News to be viewed on your digital device. The winner will be selected at random and notified by email. No purchase is necessary. Full terms and conditions can be found at here.