Peter Hickman and the Smiths Racing BMW team have had a great start to the Isle of Man TT, by picking up three podiums from three races.
Hickman’s first podium at this year’s event, and in his TT career, came on Sunday afternoon, when he finished second in the six-lap RST Superbike TT race.
Entering the final lap of the race, Hickman had closed to within 1.6s of race leader Ian Hutchinson but he proved to be too quick and ended up finishing just over five seconds ahead of Hickman.
The result was Hickman’s best-ever at the TT, his previous best being fourth in the 2016 Superbike race, and the Louth-based rider was thrilled with his first-ever podium finish.
Hickman said: “I’m delighted with my first ever TT podium especially as I thought I should have had it in last year’s Senior race. I had no such problems this year and although I was a bit steady at the beginning of the race, I gradually got into it.
Hickman added a second TT podium to his name in Monday afternoon’s first 4-lap Monster Energy Supersport race, with an impressive third place finish.
Overnight rain had left the 37.73-mile Mountain Course damp in places and the race was delayed by over two hours.
Just like in the Superbike race Hickman made a steadier start compared to his rivals and he was back in seventh at the end of the first lap before gradually moving his way forward during the course of the race.
A second lap speed of 124.957mph saw Hickman jump up the order and into fourth, closing to within four seconds of third placed William Dunlop.
A great pit stop and a superb third lap, allowed him overhaul his Northern Irish rival with one lap to go. The 30-year-old kept the pressure on and with his fastest ever lap on a Supersport machine, he was able to hold onto third.
Afterwards Hickman said: “The weather wasn’t great overnight and I was more cautious than normal on the first lap, but as soon as I felt comfortable with the track, I had a real good go and everything went well.
“I’m not a Supersport rider and only started riding one in 2015, whilst I’ve also been trying to ride it like a 1000, which doesn’t work. I was paying note to the marshals’ flags in terms of the damp patches and once I was happy with where they were I got stuck in. The Triumph was working mega and I set my fastest ever Supersport lap on the last lap so getting a podium is a habit I want to keep. I figured if I could finish in the top six I’d be happy so third is brilliant.”
Hickman and the team’s third podium came yesterday in the RL 360 Quantum Superstock TT race – with the Lincolnshire rider storming to another second place finish.
Despite slight issues with the bike cutting out intermittently, a strong opening lap of 130.538mph placed Hickman in second place – having overhauled the fast-starting Michael Rutter on a similar BMW S1000RR.
Hickman once again found himself behind Hutchinson and despite closing the gap to 4.1s on the nine-mile run to Glen Helen, Hutchinson gradually pulled clear.
A second lap of 130.396mph maintained Hickman’s second place and at half race distance he was 6.7s behind Hutchinson, but 5.8s clear of third placed Dan Kneen.
Hickman put in another 130mph+ lap on the final lap to secure his second place spot on the podium.
Looking back over the race, Hickman commented: “In the Superstock race, I was a lot faster on the opening lap to Glen Helen than I had been in the previous two races, which made life a bit easier and it’s a lot better seeing P3 on my first pit board as opposed to P7. The bike was cutting out a bit on the first two laps which made things a bit tricky but after the pit stop it cured itself. Conditions were a lot better than I expected and the wind wasn’t as bad as I thought so it was an enjoyable race.
“Hutchy’s on fire on the Superstock bike so it was always going to be tough to get the better of him but I was delighted to be on the podium once more. The team did a great job as always and I’d also like to thank Rebecca and Alan Smith for giving me the opportunity to ride Ryan’s bike and with four podiums from four races what more can I ask for?”
The results mean that Hutchinson now leads the Joey Dunlop Championship on 61 points but Hickman remains in second and well in contention on 56 points.