Anstey lays down a marker as Dunlop has lucky escape
Bruce Anstey won yesterday's six-lap TT Superbike race, which was red flagged in the closing stages due to an incident involving Michael Dunlop just two miles from the finish line.
Despite it being 46-year-old Anstey's first win in the premier class after 19 years of competition at the iconic Manx event, it was Dunlop who continued his domination of this year's TT headlines after limping from the back of an ambulance right in front of the main grandstand before the garlanding ceremony got under way.
The 11-time TT winner had been on record pace on the sixth and final lap while vying for a podium place, but Dunlop was involved in an incident with Scott Wilson, who is understood to have suffered a shoulder injury, just a couple of corners from home, forcing a red flag.
The Buildbase BMW rider had been in podium contention throughout, but an unfortunate second pit stop cost the Ballymoney man his 12th TT victory. His last-lap effort was undoubtedly a no-holds-barred attack on the outright lap record as he looked for some form of recognition on the opening day.
PBM Kawasaki's Ian Hutchinson, who clinched a record breaking five-in-a-week TT clean sweep back in 2010, was quickest out of the traps.
But there was more TT heartbreak for Guy Martin, who retired his Tyco BMW at Glenlough just three miles out on the opening lap.
Hutchinson led on the opening three laps with two strong 130mph efforts and the quickest lap three following his first pit stop, which left him looking very likely to take a fairytale ninth career victory - having opened up a five-second advantage on his PBM ZX10R Kawasaki.
But erring on the side of caution on the fourth lap, due to small showers on the approach to Kirk Michael village, cost him four seconds and ultimately the victory.
Hutchy recounted the situation, saying: "Being in sixth gear and flat out on top in the rain, it made me back off.
"I haven't raced at that pace for five years around here. Last year I lapped at 127mph, so to come and do 131mph proves the team is well on top of the job and the bike is good enough - so there's more to come from me."
Anstey picked up the advantage leaving the pits at the start of lap five on his Padgetts' Honda, and with a final effort of 131.797mph, the bearded Kiwi took his 10th TT win and a new race record for the Superbike class.
His 11-second victory was aided slightly by Hutchinson getting held up in the aftermath of the Dunlop incident, but not enough to change the podium positions.
An emotional Anstey (pictured with wife, Annie) said afterwards: "That was unbelievable. I have been waiting a long time for that. I wanted to wait on Hutchy coming through to make sure I'd won it."
Quattro Plant Muc-Off Kawasaki rider James Hillier benefited from Dunlop's incident at the Nook, taking his first TT Superbike podium in third place.
The Bournemouth rider was slightly perplexed afterwards and said: "We've benefited a little but we were there at the end. It was a tough race."
The incident at the Nook also meant that only six riders were able to complete the duration, leaving John McGuinness (Honda Racing) fourth and William Dunlop fifth on the Tyco BMW with a best lap of 129.146mph. Michael Rutter was a creditable sixth on the Penz13.com/Batham's BMW with the remainder of the results being taken from the end of the fifth lap.
Fermanagh's Lee Johnston took ninth place overall on his East Coast Racing BMW with a best effort of 127.205mph. Cookstown B.E Racing's Jamie Hamilton was 11th, Cameron Donald was 18th on the Norton, Shaun Anderson finished 21st and Dean Harrison a disappointing 31st on the Yamaha UK backed Mar-Train R1.
Saintfield's Davy Morgan retired in the pits at the end of lap one, Martin Jessopp retired at Graham Memorial on lap two and Waterford's Brian McCormack and Ryan Farquhar also called it a day on laps four and five respectively.
Today's action gets under way at 10.30am with one lap of practice for Superstock and Supersport machines. This will be followed by the Sure Sidecar race one at 11.15am. Roads close at 9.15am. The four-lap RL360 Superstock Race is then scheduled to start at 1.15pm with a TT Lightweight Practice at 3.20pm, followed by the four-lap Monster Energy Supersport Race at 6.30pm.
A Sidecar qualifying lap will conclude the day's packed programme at 8.07pm with roads re-opening at 10pm.