TT's greatest races: Supersport TT (week 3)

MCN Greatest TT Races

Bruce Anstey jumps over Ballaugh Bridge
Bruce Anstey jumps over Ballaugh Bridge
1

Now three weeks into our search for the greatest TT races of the last 25 years and it’s time for the prestigious Supersport category.

So far we’ve taken a look at the Superbike and the Superstock classes. This week it’s all about Supersport, then we’ll be turning our attention to Lightweight, Sidecar and finally the Senior TT.

Vote here for the best Supersport TT race, or read on for details of the races in our shortlist.

This week we’re taking a trip down memory lane and focusing on Supersport before moving on to Lightweight, Sidecar and the prestigious Senior TT.

  • Related: You can vote for your favourite Lightweight race of all time here
  • Related: You can still vote for your favourite Superstock race of all time here
  • Related: You can still vote for your favourite Superbike race of all time here

Our panel of experts comprises the greatest living TT racer John McGuinness, esteemed team boss Clive Padgett, 11-time winner Phillip McCallen, TT Businness Development Manager Paul Phillips, renowned TT photographer and writer Stephen Davison and 2019 Senior TT winner Dean Harrison.

Then it’s your turn to get involved because you’ll be able to vote on what you think is the greatest Supersport TT of the last quarter century with the winning race being featured in detail in MCN’s special TT supplement on June 24.

Better still, cast your vote you will be in the running to win one of two official TT merchandise jackets.


Paul Phillips - TT Business Development Manager

2012 Supersport Race 1

‘It was a dramatic race from the off and Bruce won by 0.77s’

Bruce Anstey on the podium

William Dunlop had been the fastest during qualifying, he’d really concentrated on the class and he looked set to win his first TT, but it fell apart on race day, as he was slow to get going. Meanwhile his brother, Michael, shot off into the lead and had the race in the bag really. But he broke down and that put Gary Johnson in the lead with 2.29s covering the top three until Gary broke down too.

Then all of a sudden it was a race for the win between Bruce Anstey and Cameron Donald. Cameron inherited the lead but on the last lap from Cronk-ny-Mona to the finish Bruce was able to overturn that. Bruce was No5 and Cameron No4 so it was all happening in real time in front of everybody. Bruce won the race by 0.77 of a second at the end of a 150-mile race. Incredible.

I also really remember how magnanimous Cameron was in defeat, taking it on the chin. Cameron and Bruce had been teammates the year before and they were still friends. The atmosphere after the race was really nice, Bruce was just so humble about it.


John McGuinness -  23-time TT winner

2018 Supersport TT Race 1

‘Michael’s 129mph lap was perfect’

Michael Dunlop in the 2018 Supersport TT

Everything gets over-shadowed when the guys are doing 134 and 135mph laps but you have to remember that Michael’s 129.197mph was on a 600cc road bike – 140bhp not 230bhp – so you can imagine the corner speed he had to carry, it’s like threading a needle.

On a big bike if you have a slide, you’ve got so much power that you only lose your momentum for a couple of seconds but on a 600 it could literally two or three miles to get back on it. To do that time he would have had to have been inch perfect all the way round, in fact not inch perfect – millimetre perfect.

My best ever lap on a 600 was in 2013 when I did a 127.2 and finished third behind Bruce and Michael. I knew I’d done a good job to do that time on a 600, so for Michael to be 2mph faster really leaves me scratching my head.


Dean Harrison - 2019 Senior TT winner

2003 Supersport

‘Triumph’s three-pronged attack’

Triumph 2003 Supersport TT team

You had Bruce Anstey, Jim Moodie and John McGuinness on the Jack Valentine-run Valmoto Triumphs – what a line-up! I think Bruce started No12 and Moodie wasn’t very well because he’d been caught up in DJ’s crash so he was mentally scarred and physically battered and bruised.

Triumph had taken a punt on Anstey because he’d been getting faster but the squad took a blanket approach with three top riders. McGuinness was well up for the race but out-braked himself at Ballacraine and went straight on and Anstey got his breakthrough win.

Back then the Supersport class was massive, every single manufacturer was into it, every manufacturer was really behind the class.


Clive Padgett - Milenco by Padgetts

2013 Superport Race 2

'All three set their best laps’

Michael Dunlop after setting the Supersport TT lap record

Michael Dunlop did a 128.667 lap in 2013 and that represented a new level in terms of the Supersport class. And some of you will remember how he nearly fell off at the bungalow on the last lap, pushing really hard. He lost the front, but it came back. He won by under two seconds ahead of Bruce Anstey.

It was such an exciting race because all three riders on the podium, Michael, Bruce and John McGuinness all set their personal best laps and Michael set the new lap record. It was an impressive lap from John, people have criticised him for being too fat, saying he can’t do this, can’t do that, but that 127mph lap was fast and is John’s best ever Supersport lap. It was the ride of his life. And it took until 2018 for anyone else to go faster than these three…


Stephen Davison - Photographer & Journalist

2009 Supersport TT Race 2

‘Michael revelled in the damp start’

Michael Dunlop in the 2009 Supersport TT

Michael Dunlop’s first TT win came in the 2nd Supersport race at the 2009 TT. Having just turned 20, he was fiercely determined to make his TT mark. Fastest during practice by more than 2mph on his Street Sweep Yamaha R6, Dunlop had blasted into an early lead in the opening 600cc race before grinding to a halt.

Devastated, Dunlop and his team headed to Peel beach to ease his misery. The down-time worked wonders as Joey’s nephew revelled in the damp conditions at the start of the second Supersport race.

Leading by 11 seconds after the opening lap, Dunlop romped to a 31 second win over Anstey to become the second youngest TT winner of all-time after Stanley Woods and begin a victory roll that has now reached 21.


Phillip McCallen - 11-time TT winner

2010 Supersport TT Race 2

‘It was close, only 1.5s between them’

Ian Hutchinson

Hutchy had already won the first Superpost race that week from Guy Martin, but it was a close run thing and he only managed to win it by under three seconds.

So going into the second Supersport race the stakes were high. At that point Hutchy had won three races that week and a fourth would match the record. I know how hard it is to win four in a week and for Hutchy to get it done again in the second Supersport race was impressive – especially given how close it was.

He ended up taking the win from Michael Dunlop on the Yamaha, but it was so close, under 1.5s between them. Keith Amor also got a podium in that race. And as we all know now Hutchy went on to win the Senior TT too, making it five in a week.


The prize!

When you vote for the greatest Supersport TT race, you’ll be entered into a free prize draw to win one of two official Isle of Man TT black jackets. The jacket has a full-length zip, two zipped pockets and high neck-line which can be fastened with press studs. The design features the Official Isle of Man TT Logo to the front, back and right sleeve. Winner can choose from sizes XS - 4XL.

Official IOM TT jacket

See the full range of Official Isle of Man TT Merchandise visit www.isleofmanttmerchandise.com – orders are processed with immediate effect and worldwide delivery is available.

How to enter

Simply submit your vote and you’ll be entered into the prize draw. Good luck!

*T&Cs: This prize draw closes at midnight May 12, 2020. This competition is open to UK residents aged 16 and over. There are two prizes each consisting of one copy of Ride On The Edge 2 - official Isle of Man TT Races game. Winner will receive a voucher to be redeemed on their choice of platform - PC, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. The winners will be the first two names drawn at random from all valid entries after the closing date and notified by email and has 30 to respond before an alternative winner is chosen. This prize may be offered in a limited number of other promotions. No purchase is necessary. To enter for free visit www.motorcyclenews.com/greatest-TT-races/. Full terms and conditions can be found here.

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Michael Guy

By Michael Guy

Sports Editor, former 250-racer and adventure rider