Kiwi Bruce Anstey won a thrilling Monster Energy Supersport race by less than a second from Aussie Cameron Donald, with Ballymoney’s William Dunlop taking his first TT podium in third place.
Wearing his trademark tartan flat-cap, Formula 1 car racing legend Sir Jackie Stewart made the garlanding presentation after enjoying his first taste of TT action and was suitably impressed.
“That was one of the most exciting things I have ever seen,” said Stewart.
“ The reputation this place has in every corner of the world is amazing.”
It was the second closest finish in TT history with just 0.77seconds separating Anstey and Donald, with the quickest man in practice, William Dunlop, inheriting third place from the luckless Gary Johnson who was forced to push in after running out of fuel, eventually finishing 28th.
Anstey said afterwards: “I can’t believe it. I was just hoping I wasn’t going to run of of fuel on the way down the Mountain,” obviously referring to previous problems from years gone by.
It was Anstey’s ninth victory on Mona’s Isle from a staggering 24 career podiums, but by his own admission, it was the toughest race he’s been involved in to date.
He added: “I saw P6 on the first lap and just thought, ‘no not again’. I just pulled my finger out after that and could see that I was making up places on my pit signals and could also see Cameron in front me. I knew it was between us at the end, so I just rode as hard as I could. I’m delighted to get the win.”
Michael Dunlop was the early leader on his Ard na Mara McAdoo Racing Yamaha and after the opening lap he had a ten second lead over the Wilson Craig machine of Cameron Donald.
While the rest seemed to be battling for the minor positions as Dunlop doubled his advantage to 20 seconds on lap two, mechanical gremlins would eventually put a halt to his chances of a third TT victory – retiring eight miles into lap three at Ballig Bridge. He did get the consolation of recording the fastest lap at 126.948mph; a new record for Supersport Race 1.
Padgetts Honda rider Gary Johnson was installed as the new race leader, just four seconds ahead of Donald and Anstey who could not be separated.
Johnson’s lead was reduced to just one second on the final lap at Glen Helen and by the time they had reached Ramsey Hairpin, less than half a second separated the Honda trio of Johnson, Anstey and Donald.
High drama ensued with Johnson running out of fuel, leaving the antipodeans to fight over the choice of national anthem on the podium.
Anstey may have just edged it but a sporting Cam Donald said afterwards: “Bruce is a phenomenal rider and I’m happy to finish second to him. I pushed as hard as I could and I knew it was going to be close. I’ll get another chance on Wednesday,” he explained, referring Supersport Race 2.
William Dunlop was visibly disappointed despite taking his first Mountain Course podium, saying: “I’ll not make any excuses, I just wasn’t quick enough today. That’s the way it goes.”