MIKE HAMMONDS TT 2023 BLOG SIX TT RACES
Hickman Stands Tall as the Curtain Comes Down on TT 2023
The curtain came down on TT 2023 today after two weeks of sublime weather and racing. The Mountain road closed at 9am and the rest of the course at10am. A solo warm up lap was due at 10:30am and then the Sidecar Centenary Celebration Parade Lap at 11:20am before the 'Blue Riband' of motorcycle racing, the Senior TT, started at 12:15pm.
Before the days action started it was time to catch up on how the Manx Exchequer had increased its revenues over the last few days.
Peter Hickman took the head of BMW, Markus Schramm, for a lap of the course on Thursday. They were stopped by the police and Hicky received a £120 fine!! He didn't expand on what the fine was for but did say it wasn't for speeding......answers on a postcard.
Three people have been arrested for going onto the TT Course when the road was closed. A man and a woman were pictured standing in the middle of the road near to Creg-ny-Baa and appeared to be taking photographs of each other. I am sure the forth coming fine will be worth it!!
Earlier this week a visitor spent a night in the cells and was fined £3,000 for flying a drone over the TT Course. The 23 year old man claimed that he didn't realise it was illegal. He was ordered to pay the fine and the £125 costs forthwith or face 180 days in jail.
Only 14 bikes went out for the solo warm up lap and at least one was a Supersport machine. Peter Hickman had been struggling with his Superbike since arriving on the Island. The quick shifter / down shifter failed during the last Saturday's Superbike Race and the FHO team were still trying to find the right set up. Hickman claimed after the warm up lap that at last the bike was rideable and they had found a set up that worked. He would ride it in the race and not his Superstock bike he rode yesterday to break the outright lap record. Mark Goodings broke down on the Mountain which frustratingly put him out of the race.
Michael Rutter said that he would take out his Batham Ales Honda RC213V-S on the warm up lap if a £1,000 was raised for the Rob Vine Fund, it was and he did. It reputedly cost £1,000 a lap to run the fabulously sounding bike.
Great as Dave Molyneux, Dan Sayle, Rob Fisher and the Birchalls are, the Sidecar Centenary Lap was an insult to all who have been involved in sidecar racing. It was a pretty poor affair and probably was in keeping with the way the organisers view sidecars. Ten times TT winner Rob Fisher had Vicky Cooke in the chair for the lap but there was little fanfare as the three crews set off.
The Charlie Williams 50th anniversary celebration lap of his first TT win failed to materialise. It was due to take place earlier in the week but was postponed due to the delays caused by the mist and the car crash on the mountain. That was such a shame.
The new race schedule was designed to maximise visitor and TV coverage over the two weekends of race week. It is too early to say if that goal was achieved, however, those arriving for the Senior may have felt a little short changed with only 39 bikes on the grid. It wouldn't be obvious to TV viewers as the coverage only concentrates on the top five or six riders.
It was another warm and sunny day on the Island, perfect conditions to race. The earlier long range forecast had predicted rain would arrive around lunchtime, this was revised to mid afternoon. There was no sign of any rain and the TT fortnight was completed in exceptional conditions.
The talk before the race was all about could Michael Dunlop equal Uncle Joey on 26 wins or could Peter Hickman equal Michael by winning four races in the week? Dean Harrison had been the bridesmaid all week, could he break the Dunlop / Hickman dominance?
For the final time at this year's TT the C & L Fairburn Properties / Jackson Racing Honda CBR1000RR SP SC82 of David Johnson led the field away. Second away was the Dao Racing Kawasaki of Dean Harrison who left like a scalded cat. He was leading Peter Hickman by half a second at Glen Helen. Michael Dunlop was 2.2s adrift of Hickman on the Hawk Racing Honda fireblade. The next timing point was at Ballaugh and it took Hickman less than three minutes to get there from Glen Helen, according to the commentators this was a record for the sector!!
Jamie Coward's TT was over when he retired his KTS Racing powered by Steadplan Honda CBR1000RR SP SC77 at Ballaugh on the first circuit. He had had a great TT up until then and was the top privateer of the meeting. Hickman pressed on and was leading Harrison by 4.7 seconds at Ramsey Hairpin, Michael Dunlop was closing in on Harrison and was less than 0.75s behind. Manxman Conor Cummins delighted his home town fans as he moved into fourth place at Ramsey ahead of James Hillier and Josh Brookes.
The Monster Energy by FHO Racing BMW M1000RR K66 was certainly on song as Peter Hickman put in the fastest ever standing start lap at 135.349mph giving him a 6.121s lead over Harrison. The Bradford man had lapped at 134.529mph and had pulled away from Michael Dunlop by 3.989s. Conor Cummins crossed the line in fourth but James Hillier was under increased pressure from Josh Brookes as the gap was now only 0.098s.
Mike Browne was suffering suspension problems and retired his Burrows Engineering / RK racing BMW in the pits at the end of the lap. Stefano Bonetti also pulled into the pits and retired. Dominic Herbertson and Sam West both went out on the second lap at Ballacraine. Hickman pressed on regardless and extended his lead to over 10 seconds by the time he reached the Bungalow and finished the lap 11.863s ahead of Harrison. Michael Dunlop's hopes of winning a fifth TT in the week seemed to be fading as he trailed Dean Harrison by 7.359s and was over 19s behind Hickman.
Peter Hickman had put in another lap in excess of 135mph and was averaging 135.428mph for the two laps. For those fixated on sector times they will have been delighted that Hicky now held the record for all six sectors after collecting another two on his second lap. The top nine were all averaging over 130mph. Craig Neve, Bathams Racing Honda CBR1000RR SP SC82, was tenth and set his first 130mph lap second time around. The Dao Racing Team were slick with their pit stop and Harrison had gained 3s back on Hickman by the time they got to Glen Helen. Mark Parrett, who was holding 26th position, retired his C&C Ltd BMW in the pits.
There was excitement in Rennie Scaysbrook's pit when the team couldn't get the spindle of the back wheel to go back in. Now a former rider, Dave Hewson was there to give a hand but sadly it just wouldn't go in. The action was brilliantly described by Chris Kinley as it happened. Rennie and the team were given an ovation from the people on the Grandstand when they finally gave in.
Dunlop wasn't making any headway in chasing down Harrison but still held a comfortable lead over the rejuvenated Milenco by Padgett’s Motorcycles' Conor Cummins. At half distance Brookes, McGuinness, Johnson, Hillier, Neve and Todd made up the top ten. The order remained the same as they entered the pits at the end of the fourth lap except that Craig Neve had dropped to 13th elevation Todd and Michael Rutter up to 9th and 10th respectively.
Harrison's team had another superb pit stop bringing Hickman's lead down to under 10s. News came through that Michael Rutter had retired at Glen Vine on the penultimate lap, will we see the likes of the Honda RC213V-S again on the TT Course? No further retirements were posted and Peter Hickman took his Monster Energy by FHO Racing to victory by 19.989s from Dean Harrison who in turn beat Michael Dunlop by 20.533s. Hickman's race average of 132.526mph in 1 hour 42 minutes 29,489 was a new race record for the six lap Senior TT.
The top ten was completed by Conor Cummins, Josh Brooks, James Hillier, John McGuinness, David Johnson, Davy Todd and Rob Hodson. The latter achieved his first 130mph+ lap on his final circuit. There were 31 finishers gaining 12 silver replicas, 14 bronze replicas and 5 finisher plaques. Michael Russel finished 26th and gained the last bronze replica. He didn't manage to get 10 finishes out of ten starts but he can be extremely proud of his achievements. It was a tremendous effort for a small private team.
The Senior victory brought Peter Hickman's tally for the week to four and 13 in total. Much to everyone's amusement Chris Kinley said to him that he had equalled Mike Hailwood's 14 TT wins. More than one person was quick to point out to Chris his mistake for which he apologised. I think everyone will forgive him for that one error given the brilliant commentary he had personally given over the last couple of weeks.
It had been a tough last couple of days for Michael Dunlop, particularly after the great winning start he had in his first three races. I am sure he will be disappointed but he should be immensely proud of his achievements at this year's TT. He now has 25 TT wins including the 4 he won this year, an outstanding achievement.
It was another fantastic race from what had been a fantastic TT, just 50 weeks to go until TT 2024.