John McGuinness is hot on Joey Dunlop's trail
Morecambe Missile John McGuinness is now within striking distance of Joey Dunlop's all-time record of 26 wins at the Isle of Man TT following his 23rd career victory in yesterday's blue riband Senior event.
McGuinness, who also set a new outright lap record en route to his second triumph of the week with a blistering effort of 132.701mph, paid tribute to his former Honda team-mate, after taking a 20-second victory over Ian Hutchinson, with James Hillier third on the Quattro Plant Kawasaki.
"Everyone keeps talking about Joey's record but if I'm honest, I never really think about it," said the 43-year-old.
"Yes I am edging closer but if I could draw level then I'd be happy to hang up my leathers and boots."
The race required a re-start after a crash involving Ballyclare's Jamie Hamilton - who was air-lifted to Nobles Hospital following the high-speed incident on the Cronk y Voddy straight on the second lap on board his Cookstown BE Racing Suzuki.
He was later transferred to Liverpool with no detailed news on his condition, which was described as serious but not life-threatening.
PBM Kawasaki's Hutchinson was leading at the time of the red flag, with eventual winner McGuinness just two seconds down on his Honda Racing machine. Michael Dunlop was a further six seconds adrift in third on the Buildbase BMW.
With the restart shortened to four laps, it was all about being quick out of the traps and McGuinness, who was recharged after his day's rest on Thursday, took an early advantage, eking out a small gap over Hutchinson.
At the end of lap one, McGuinness held a small 1.2-second lead over Hutchinson with Hillier a further 1.8 seconds back in third.
TT Superbike winner Bruce Anstey lead the top six charge in fourth ahead of BMW duo Dunlop and Peter Hickman, who was having a great ride in only his second TT.
On lap two, McGuinness was back to his sublime best, setting a new outright lap record at 132.701mph in the process.
Guy Martin was also inside Anstey's old record on lap two, just two seconds down on McGuinness' lap with a 132.398mph effort on the Tyco BMW.
The noise in the Grandstand as McGuinness' time was read out was deafening, and despite being full of adrenaline and in the midst of a very important pit stop, the TT legend was able to take it all in, as he explained: "I could hear the crowd and thought, 'this is just what it was like when I did the first 130mph lap'.
"Then on lap three everyone was waving at me all around the circuit, so I was starting to think, 'maybe we've nicked the lap record'," said McGuinness, admitting that he was back to his best in what turned out to be his seventh Senior TT victory - equalling Mike Hailwood's long-standing tally.
"Yes, the real John McGuinness turned up today," he said with a glint in his eye post event.
"I was so focused and got a mint start. It was all about, push, push, push on that opening lap and I was really up for it.
"I was riding really hard, so hard I could feel the front pushing and almost tucking on that right at the 33rd.
"I knew Hutchinson and I were nip and tuck, but I'll take it.
"I love this place and I was really emotional coming down the Mountain on that last lap."
Hillier backed up his Lightweight TT podium earlier in the day with a fine third place, and will undoubtedly be on a number of teams' shortlists for 2016.
The modest Bournemouth man said: "I'm a little bit overwhelmed to be honest.
"I dug really deep and really pushed hard, but hats off to John, he rode really well. The race pace now is really crazy at the TT but we've had a great week and we will be back."
Hutchinson made it a brace of second-placed finishes in the Superbike class at this year's TT, but said he cannot be disappointed at his week's effort, including three wins alongside yesterday's second place, despite making a small mistake.
"I ran on at Signpost and lost a bit of time on the run into my pit and we've blown a hole in the exhaust, but I can't complain, we've had a great week," he said.
A great week indeed, and after concluding with four riders posting 132mph laps inside Anstey's old lap record - McGuinness, Hillier, Dunlop and Martin - 13 131mph efforts during the four-lapper and 14 coming in over the 130mph mark, one wonders what is in store next year at the 2016 Isle of Man TT.