Michael Dunlop kicked off the 2014 Isle of Man TT race week in impressive fashion, smashing the race record as he took his eighth TT victory in the Superbike TT.
The BMW Motorrad rider took the lead from James Hillier at Ballaugh on lap one and never looked back, breaking the outright lap record twice on the first two laps of the six lap race. His record would only last until the final lap, however, as Bruce Anstey, who was outside the top 10 after overshooting at the Nook on the first lap, became the first man to lap around the TT Course at over 132mph, posting a lap of 132.298mph.
Despite the early pace from Hillier, it soon became clear that Dunlop was going to be the man to beat, increasing his lead at every checkpoint and holding a 9.4 second advantage over Tyco Suzuki‘s Guy Martin at the end of lap one. Meanwhile Hillier had been pushed outside the podium places by local hero Conor Cummins and down to fourth, while Dean Harrison and John McGuinness completed the top six.
By the time of the first round of pitstops, Dunlop had caught up to Martin, who in turn had closed in on McGuinness and Hillier, leading to a thrilling sight as the four riders made their assault on the Isle of Man’s roads.
It was a different story at the second round of stops, however, as Dunlop had now pulled out an advantage on Martin by consistently lapping at 130mph+, holding a 25 second lead on corrected time. Martin’s new worry was coming in the form of Cummins, who had closed the gap on the Suzuki rider to less than five seconds.
The final third of the race saw Dunlop control the pace and manage his advantage over Martin, who was still close to the Ballymoney rider on the road, to come home to score his eighth TT win and the first ‘big bike’ win for BMW in 75 years.
Martin held on to second by just three seconds over Cummins, with Anstey, who smashed the lap record on the final lap, Michael Rutter and William Dunlop rounding out the top six. John McGuinness had to settle for seventh after his pace was hampered as he struggled with his wrist injury as the race wore on.
Harrison and Hillier dropped back from their early race pace to finish eighth and ninth, while Josh Brookes completed the top ten.
Peter Hickman was the fastest of the newcomers, working his way up to a brilliant 14th place at the chequered flag. He also became the second fastest newcomer in TT history after posting a final lap of 126.195mph. Fellow newcomers Martin Jessopp and Danny Webb took home bronze replicas after finishing in 26th and 37th respectively, as well as posting their best laps of the week at 123.470 and 120.508mph.
Hickman’s 14th place was good enough to see him become the first Privateer across the line, beating Ivan Lintin and Russ Mountford, who finished 17th and 18th respectively.