Australian David Johnson won a dramatic Superbike Classic TT race on Monday evening, his first victory around the Mountain Course, after race leader Michael Dunlop retired at Hillberry on the final lap with a flat battery.
The duo had been locked in battle for the majority of the race but Dunlop looked like he had the race won on the Team Classic Suzuki when he led by more than ten seconds at the Bungalow for the fourth and final time.
However, it wasn’t to be and Johnson got the victory on the Alasdair Cowan Racing/Robert Burns Kawasaki by 41.2s from Derek Sheils (Greenall Racing Kawasaki) and James Hillier (Oxford Products Ducati).
Dunlop led Johnson at Glen Helen on the first lap by 1.67s with Gary Johnson in third, just over two seconds down on his namesake, and Paul Jordan, Conor Cummins and Sheils completing the top six as only eight seconds covered the top ten.
Johnson took half a second out of Dunlop on the run to Ballaugh but the gap was back up to two seconds at Ramsey Hairpin and Cummins moved up to third with Sheils, Hillier and Jamie Coward all inside the top six as Gary Johnson slipped back to seventh.
At the end of the lap, it was Dunlop in the lead after lapping at 124.868mph but the gap to Johnson was still only 1.9s as Cummins remained in third, now 9.9s adrift. He’d edged away from Sheils by 2.3s with Hillier only a second behind the Irishman. Coward remained in sixth with the top 11 riders having all lapped at more than 120mph although Horst Saiger wasn’t one of them, the Austrian having gone out at Governor’s Bridge.
Through Glen Helen on lap two and Dunlop doubled his lead to 3.9s with the gap between Johnson and Cummins remaining just under ten seconds. Sheils lost another second to the Manxman but he, in turn, had extended his advantage over Hillier with Coward now only a tenth of a second ahead of seventh placed Michael Rutter.
Leading on the road, Dunlop was beginning to take control of the race and by Ramsey Hairpin, his lead had gone out again, the margin to Johnson now looking ominous at 8.1s. Cummins and Sheils were still in third and fourth but only three seconds covered Rutter, Coward and Hillier in fifth to seventh.
As the riders came into the pits for fuel at the end of the lap, Dunlop’s speed of 125.63mph meant he now enjoyed a lead of 8.8s over Johnson but Rutter was glued to Dunlop’s rear wheel and, with the fastest lap of the race that allowed him to overhaul Cummins and take over third. Sheils and Coward were in fifth and sixth with Hillier in seventh but Gary Johnson and Jordan were both forced to retire.
Johnson had a quicker pit stop than Dunlop and at Glen Helen on lap three he led for the first time albeit by the slender margin of 1.7s. There was also considerable change behind as Sheils jumped up third, half a second ahead of Rutter with Coward and Hillier now in fifth and sixth as Cummins dropped down to seventh.
Dunlop brought the gap down to less than half a second at Ballaugh and at Ramsey he’d regained the lead, a great run in the sector seeing him go 3.7s clear. Sheils was continuing to hold onto third and he now had a five second lead over Coward as Rutter stopped at Gwen’s to make adjustments.
Heading into the fourth and final lap, Dunlop had built up a lead of 4.8s over Johnson and although Sheils was still holding onto third by five seconds, Hillier was up to fourth and 2.6s ahead of Coward with Cummins a further 2.3s back in sixth.
On the last nine-mile run to Glen Helen, Dunlop added another two seconds to his lead over Johnson and by Ballaugh it had increased further to almost ten seconds. The battle for third remained close though and as the riders jumped Ballaugh Bridge, Hillier, circulating with Johnson on the road, had moved into third but it was extremely tight, the difference between him and Sheils only two tenths of a second. Coward was out of luck though as he retired at the Cronk y Voddy straight.
However, just when it looked like Dunlop would take his fourth race win in the class he went out at Hillberry and Johnson came through for his maiden victory with Sheils making his first appearance on a TT rostrum as he got the better of Hillier by just one and a half seconds, the latter taking his first Classic TT podium since 2014.
Cummins took fourth and the late retirements allowed Ryan Kneen and Michael Sweeney to move up to fifth and sixth respectively. Rob Hodson, Davey Todd, Craig Neve and Michal Dokoupil rounded out the top ten.
RST Superbike TT race result - conditions dry
1 9 David Johnson Kawasaki / Robert Burns Ltd. / Alasdair Co 01:13:27.422 123.272 Silver
2 15 Derek Sheils Kawasaki / Greenall Racing 01:14:08.689 122.129 Silver
3 5 James Hillier Ducati / Oxford Racing Ducati / Louigi Moto 01:14:10.235 122.086 Silver
4 10 Conor Cummins Yamaha / Milenco by Padgett’s Motorcycles 01:14:26.514 121.641 Silver
5 24 Ryan Kneen Kawasaki / Team Herheim Racing 01:15:42.743 119.600 Silver
6 11 Michael Sweeney Kawasaki / Mistral Racing 01:16:03.092 119.067 Silver
7 18 Rob Hodson Kawasaki / Greenall Racing 01:16:33.041 118.290 Silver
8 14 Davey Todd Yamaha / Milenco by Padgett’s Motorcycles 01:16:45.016 117.983 Silver
9 12 Craig Neve Kawasaki / Robert Burns Ltd. / Alasdair Co 01:16:54.276 117.746 Silver
10 49 Michal Dokoupil Suzuki / Cookson Travel Racing 01:17:21.688 117.051 Silver
11 46 Andrew Farrell Kawasaki / Steadplan Primus Racing 01:17:57.520 116.154 Silver
12 19 Joey Thompson Kawasaki / Wilcock Consulting Kawasaki 01:18:02.118 116.040 Silver
13 37 Richard Wilson Norton / Wiz Norton Racing 01:19:00.634 114.607 Bronze
14 35 Josh Daley Yamaha / Pete Beale Yamaha 01:19:13.922 114.287 Bronze
15 58 Paul Potchy Williams Kawasaki / Slipscreens Ltd 01:19:18.640 114.174 Bronze
16 29 John Barton Ducati / Alf’s Motorcycles 01:19:19.992 114.141 Bronze
17 25 Forest Dunn Kawasaki / Alasdair Cowan Racing 01:19:19.996 114.141 Bronze
18 48 Darren Cooper Yamaha / Cumbria Radiators 01:19:32.211 113.849 Bronze
19 43 Allan Brodie Suzuki / Paint Doctor UK/Geoff Martin 01:19:37.256 113.729 Bronze
20 31 David Hewson Kawasaki / Obsession Engineering Ltd. 01:20:22.226 112.668 Bronze
21 51 Mark Parrett Kawasaki / MPR / Richard Taylor 01:20:41.734 112.214 Bronze
22 34 Mike Booth Kawasaki / BSK Pro 01:20:45.139 112.135 Bronze
23 41 Daniel Ingham Suzuki / Derek Jones Butchers / Digital Dea 01:21:12.295 111.510 Bronze
24 33 Dennis Booth Suzuki / Geoff Martin Racing 01:21:32.979 111.039 Bronze
25 32 David Madsen-Mygdal Honda / Mygdal Racing 01:22:40.555 109.526
26 56 Darryl Tweed Yamaha / Stanley Stewart Classic Racing 01:22:40.797 109.521
27 45 Charles Rhys Hardisty Suzuki / Reps Motorcycles 01:22:48.126 109.360
28 61 Eric Wilson Kawasaki / Obsession Engineering LTD 01:23:26.566 108.520
29 67 Wayne Axon Suzuki / CSC Racing 01:24:15.630 107.467
30 79 Lancelot Unissart Kawasaki / Honey Racing Team 01:25:06.258 106.401
31 65 Alec Whitwell Suzuki / Funky Monk Racing 01:27:37.964 103.331
32 74 Steve Moody Honda / BRIDGE THE GAP 01:27:50.757 103.080