Although he’s an Irish Road Racing Champion and has won a race at the Ulster Grand Prix, it’s probably fair to say few people were expecting Derek McGee to finish on the podium in Wednesday’s Lightweight TT race, especially as it’s only his third year at the event and he missed 2017.
But the Republic of Eire man has been one of the riders of the week, challenging for top ten positions in both Supersport races – only denied eighth place in the second when he was forced to stop at Sarah’s Cottage on the final lap – and increasing his personal best lap to 127.556mph in the Superbike race.
A lap of 119.478mph during practice for the Lightweight race suggested he may push for a podium on Ryan Farquhar’s IEG/KMR Kawasaki but he did more than that, challenging for the win.
Third in the early stages behind Ivan Lintin and Michael Dunlop, McGee took full advantage of Lintin’s demise despite only having one pit board around the Mountain Course. Dunlop had to call upon all his considerable experience and set lap and race records to see off the challenge of McGee, his eventual winning margin 14.6s.
“To be honest, I’m speechless and lost for words! I didn’t know what to expect at the TT this year having missed last year but the KMR lads have been working incredibly hard and, after practice, I thought a podium position may have been a possibility if everything came together but it’s taken a lot of late nights from the boys in the team to get the bike ready. The only pit board I had was at the Gooseneck so I didn’t realise I was leading until I saw my board there and I thought Michael must have gone out,” he said.
“An unbelievable pit stop put me in that position and we knew the tank didn’t need to be brimmed so we were in and out in a flash. I was disappointed to retire from eighth place in the Supersport race but to be sitting here now as a podium finisher is simply brilliant. I’ve got to say a big thanks to Ryan and his team as they’ve been brilliant throughout.”