After three years of disappointment, John McGuinness finally claimed a Classic TT victory in the Bennetts Senior Classic TT race, the Morecambe rider shattering the lap record on the Team Winfield Paton in the process to win by over twenty seconds from Dean Harrison (Black Eagle MV Agusta).
For the first two laps, there was never more than a second between the two riders but McGuinness was able to pit at the end of lap three for a ‘splash and dash’, whereas Harrison had to stop a lap earlier and that strategy gave the ‘Morecambe Missile’ the breathing space he needed.
“We’ve been trying so hard to get the win these last few years so it’s absolutely mega to have finally done it, not just for myself but for Roger (Winfield) and the whole team. There was nothing between Dean and myself to begin with but the pit stops changed everything and the bike never missed a beat. It’s been frustrating having been parked by the roadside each year and when I was sitting on my backside at Quarterbridge last night (after a qualifying spill), I was thinking ‘what am I doing?’”“I’ve been desperate to win this race and the bike never missed a beat so I really, really enjoyed it. We’d changed gearing for the day which worked out for the best and I actually wore ear plugs for the very first time in my career as these old bikes can give you a bit of a hammering! The first lap didn’t feel the greatest but the second felt better and the splash and dash meant I could ease off a bit on the final lap.”
McGuinness led at Glen Helen on the opening lap, his advantage over Harrison 1.5s with Maria Costello on a second Paton in third from Conor Cummins, Alan Oversby and Michael Rutter. Ian Lougher was an early retirement at Union Mills though with Dan Hegarty also out at Ballacraine and Cummins’ strong ride ending at Quarry Bends.
With a new lap record of 112.077mph, Harrison led at the end of the first lap but it was close with McGuinness still only 0.3s adrift, his opening lap of 112.043mph also inside the old lap record. Costello was holding onto third with Rutter now in fourth ahead of Oversby and Coward.
Throughout the second lap, there was nothing between Harrison and McGuinness but the latter was the quickest and his lap of 113.342mph, another new lap record, gave him a five second lead at half race distance. Harrison and Costello pitted for fuel as Oversby moved up to fourth.
With some riders pitting and others going straight through the leaderboard changed considerably on lap three and McGuinness was now over a minute clear of Harrison with Oversby now in third from Costello.
The 23-time TT winner rider made a splash and dash at the end of lap three and his strategy paid off as the lead was 21 seconds at Glen Helen on the fourth and final lap. That was the gap at the end of the race with Costello making it two Patons in the top three. Coward, Oversby and Dominic Herbertson (1st Privateer) completed the top six.