John McGuinness claimed his eighteenth Isle of Man TT victory after overcoming the challenge of Cameron Donald in Saturday's Dainese Superbike race. The Honda TT Legends rider fell behind the Australian, as well as Tyco Suzuki's Guy Martin on the first lap but sublime riding and exceptional pit work saw him take the chequered flag 14 seconds ahead of the rest.
After two quick stops, McGuinness admitted his pit crew made a huge difference in his battle with Donald and thanked them for their contribution.
“We've been doing a lot of testing and riding in the lead up to this race, including the Bol d'Or 24-hour, so we've done a lot hours on the bike. We came here off the back of a great North West 200 and we just hit the ground running. I set off number one, I had a clear road and there wasn't anybody there to trip me up. I got stuck in from the start and when I saw that Cameron was in front of me at the end of lap one I just knew I needed to dig deep. Our crew in the pits are fantastic – they seem to have a magic wand that gets me out of there five seconds faster than anyone else so this is big credit to them. To compete in the TT and to finish a TT is incredible; to win one is amazing but to win 18, well I'm just lost for words.”
With Donald taking second, the fight for third went down to the wire between Martin and Bruce Anstey. Unlike McGuinness, Martin's pit stops didn't go smoothly and the Lincolnshire man was forced to run the last two laps on a used rear tyre after a wheel spindle problem in the pits. Anstey took full advantage to grab third but Martin wasn't overly disappointed and feels confident for the rest of the week.
“On those first two laps we’d no real problems worth mentioning but after the pit stop we had a couple of small issues that dropped us off John and Cameron’s pace. By the time the rear wheel spindle caused a problem we were out of the race for the win and I just rode it to the finish. The general handling and performance of the new GSX-R1000 is very good. I know I can do the speeds, as we proved on that first lap and the team can do the business, so we’re still in with a chance in the Senior. We’ve come here well prepared, but you can’t test for the TT at Kirkistown or Almeria. The only place you can do that is here on the TT Course so we can use what we learned today and apply it for Friday.”
Gary Johnson finished fifth ahead of William Dunlop and James Hillier while Ian Hutchinson took eighth on his return to the TT after missing last year's event with a broken leg. Dean Harrison and Michael Dunlop completed the top ten but local favourite Conor Cummins was forced to withdraw on safety grounds as the injury suffered at the North West 200 flared up again.