Smiths BMW’s Peter Hickman took a narrow victory over Dean Harrison in this morning’s RST Superbike TT which was stopped after an incident at Snugborough at the start of lap three.
Hickman, starting at number ten on a hybrid Superstock S1000RR with Superbike front and rear ends, took the lead from Silicone Kawasaki’s Harrison at Cronk-ny-Mona on lap two.
Harrison flashed down the Glencrutchery Road with a 132.57mph lap but Hickman grazed 133mph with a 132.95mph as they came into the pits.
Hickman had opened a 0.690s lap on the third lap at Glen Helen but as Harrison and third-placed man Conor Cummins reached Ballaugh Bridge, the red flags came out.
Clerk of the course Gary Thompson opted not to re-start the race so the race was called at the end of lap two.
Milenco by Padgetts Honda’s Cummins ended with the final podium spot with an 11s deficit to Hickman even though he also posted a 132mph lap.
Even though he had began to slip down the leaderboard by Glen Helen on lap three, Quattro Kawasaki’s Jam Hiller crossed the line on lap two in fourth and that is where he stayed on the result sheet.
Veteran Michael Rutter put the Honda RC213V-S in fifth place while Tyco BMW’s Michael Dunlop, who had very little Superbike practice, finished in sixth.
After a slight delay of twenty minutes, the race got underway at 11.05am with good, dry conditions reported all around the Mountain Course although the competitors would again have to contend with winds of 25-30mph.
Harrison led at Glen Helen on the opening lap - his advantage over Hickman just 1.1s - with James Hillier a further second back in third. Cummins was only a tenth of a second behind the Kawasaki man as Michael Dunlop and Michael Rutter completed the top six. Three of the fancied runners - John McGuinness, Lee Johnston and Ian Hutchinson - were down the order though in 14th, 15th and 16th respectively.
The gap between Harrison and Hickman remained the same at Ballaugh as Cummins moved up to third and by Ramsey Hairpin, it was still close with Harrison’s lead just 1.4s. Cummins was now 3.8s adrift of Hickman but almost eight seconds clear of Hillier.
An opening lap of 132.48mph gave Harrison a lead over Hickman of just one second with Cummins still in third but now 4.8s behind the BMW rider. They were the only three riders to lap at more than 130mph with Hillier, Dunlop and Rutter continuing to fill fourth to sixth places. McGuinness pulled into the pits though with an oil pressure issue whilst Derek McGee also retired.
Harrison eked out another half second on the run to Glen Helen as he and Hickman remained neck and neck and although Cummins still sat in third place, he was now over eight seconds behind the race leader. Hillier still occupied fourth but Rutter had now overhauled Dunlop for fifth.
A superb sector between Glen Helen and Ballaugh enabled Harrison to increase his lead to 4.8s with Cummins a similar distance behind in third. By the time they reached Ramsey for the second time, Harrison led on the road with his advantage cut back slightly by Hickman to four seconds. Manxman Cummins was now 6.3s behind Hickman.
However, Hickman utilised his prowess over the Mountain and although he was still in second place at the Bungalow, he was now only 0.045s behind Harrison. Cummins was leading on the road again as well but by the end of the lap, the Burton upon Trent rider was ahead for the first time, his second lap of 132.947mph giving him a gap of 1.7s over Harrison.
Hillier broke the 130mph barrier to maintain his hold on fourth and he was now almost 13 seconds ahead of Rutter with Dunlop still in sixth. David Johnson was up to seventh with Jamie Coward, Gary Johnson and Davey Todd rounding out the top ten.
After the single pit stop, Hickman still led but through Glen Helen for the third time, the gap had come down again to 0.690s with Cummins a further ten and a half seconds back in third. There was change in fourth though as Hillier dropped back to seventh and fourth to sixth was now Rutter, Dunlop and David Johnson.
However, the red flag came out shortly afterwards with the result declared at the end of lap two giving Hickman his third victory around the Mountain Course with Harrison and Cummins completing the podium positions.
Hillier was awarded fourth ahead of Rutter and Dunlop with David Johnson, Coward, Gary Johnson and Todd completing the top ten.