TT2014: Gary Johnson flying high
There was no fairytale second successive victory at TT2014 for Michael Dunlop in yesterday’s Monster Energy Supersport Race one. Lincolnshire’s Gary Johnson ruined the Ulsterman’s party, giving British manufacturer Triumph a hard-earned top step.
After a titanic race-long battle with Kiwi Bruce Anstey on the Valvoline by Padgetts Honda, Johnson finally recorded his second career TT victory by a miniscule 1.5-seconds after four pulsating laps.
Anstey took second place ahead of a subdued Michael Dunlop, who was eight seconds adrift of the Kiwi in third place.
There were celebrations in the Johnson camp but riders and fans were later united in grief when it was confirmed that Bob Price, 65, from Gloucester was killed during the Supersport 1 race.
Bob passed away following an incident at Ballaugh on the third lap of the race.
He was an experienced road racer who first competed at the TT Races in 1992 and competed regularly in the Manx Grand Prix as a Classic racer.
The news, which follows the loss of road racing star Simon Andrews at the North West 200, darkened the mood after Johnson reflected on the victory for his Smith’s Triumph team — their maiden TT victory.
“This win means more to me than the first one at the TT,” he said. “To bring back Triumph and win at the TT is superb for the Smith’s team. We had a great package today with the Triumph and the Metzeler tyres worked superbly. Smiths have been winning at BSB this year; now they have a TT win.”
Johnson (pictured) led all four laps on the Smith’s Triumph, but was never afforded the luxury of more than a five second advantage.
Johnson took the chequered flag just 1.5 seconds ahead of Anstey after 150 miles of racing. Anstey said: “I tried my hardest but it was tricky out there. It was tricky on the Mountain on the third lap and I didn’t know how hard to push as it had started raining. I actually thought they might have stopped it on that third lap, but all credit to the team, we did well.”
Michael Dunlop spent the last couple of laps circulating with eventual winner Johnson, respectfully admitted that he didn’t want to ruin the Lincolnshire rider’s chances of victory — knowing full well that he was out of the running.
“I stuck my foot out and let him come past,” said Dunlop. “Gary then wanted me to come back by him and maybe pull him along. I probably could have got back in front and pulled away a bit, but I knew there wasn’t enough left for me to win the race and I didn’t want to be disrespectful to him.
“I did the best I could and I’m a bit disappointed, as we struggled a bit and lost a bit of time in the pits.”
Fourth place went to Bradford’s Dean Harrison in possibly the ride of the day for the Mar-Train Racing pilot. He may well have been 32 seconds adrift of Michael Dunlop for the final podium spot, but Mar-Train team owner Tim Martin, was delighted with his young rider’s performance on the team’s full TT debut.
“That was as satisfying as winning a British Supersport race,” said the Temple based businessman. Dean has done a fantastic job for us in that race, but it was a team effort and Cliffy and Boost must be commended,” he added paying tribute to his crew.
Looking ahead to tomorrow’s second Supersport encounter, Martin added: “We’ve done what is required to finish a race here at the TT, making small steps and staying reliable.
“It would be nice to go one step higher on Wednesday and get that first podium, but we will see what happens. Dean believes he’s capable and we know the package is good enough, but we will have to wait and see.”
Tyco Suzuki’s William Dunlop and Guy Martin came home fifth and sixth respectively and Martin was pragmatic in defeat.
“That Triumph came past me down Sulby straight and I couldn’t even sit in his slipstream,” he said of race winner Johnson’s 675cc Triumph triples’ notable engine size advantage over the Japanese four-cylinder 600cc machines.
Fermanagh’s Lee Johnston finished eighth on the Pirtek East Coast Honda with Jamie Hamilton 20th and Michael Sweeney 32nd.