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HomeIsle of Man TT and Other RoadsSupersport double for Michael, Birchalls win fateful Sidecar Race 2.

Supersport double for Michael, Birchalls win fateful Sidecar Race 2.

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Supersport double for Michael, Birchalls win fateful Sidecar Race 2.

Michael Dunlop won a short but enthralling Monster Energy Supersport Race 2 at TT 2022. In doing so secured his 21st TT win and moved ahead of Ian Hutchinson at the top of list of Supersport winners with his 9th win in the class; to Hutchy’s 8.

The day was warm and sunny; however, the riders had to deal with a strong wind, gusting to 40mph and some dampness from Stella Maris to Waterworks, around Hillberry and in the Governor’s Bridge loop road. Jamie Coward had moved from number 12 to number 9.

In a shortened 2 lap race it was essential to be right on the pace in the dash to Glen Helen on the opening lap. On the road, Dean Harrison led as they passed the former commentary point; he had taken the 10s starting interval and more from the great John McGuinness. The clocks showed that Michael Dunlop (MD Honda) was the man to be ahead of if you wanted to win. Michael led by 0.158s as he powered up the hill towards Sarah’s Cottage. Peter Hickman (Trooper Beer Triumph) was second; with Dean Harrison (DAO Kawasaki) in third. Davey Todd (Milenco Padgett’s Honda) held fourth, Jamie Coward (KTS Steadplan Yamaha) was fifth and Lee Johnston (Ashcourt Yamaha) was sixth. Johnston was trying new eye drops; but they did not do what was required and a deflated Johnston retired from the race at the end of the first lap.

At Ballaugh Bridge, Dunlop has edged his lead out to 0.46s. Harrison was 3.3s down on Hickman.  Coward, Todd, and Johnston filled the leader board; but it was so close that only 2.4s covered fourth to eighth. Harrison was first to burst into our view on the exit to Cruickshank’s Corner on May Hill. He was clearly trying, using most of the road as the Kawasaki flashed between the walls. Johnston was next to pass, then McGuinness; closely followed by Dunlop, head down and going for it. Dunlop had taken the 10s starting interval from the James Hillier (OMG Yamaha), himself a potential podium finisher. Todd, Coward, and Cummins were neat and fast as the charged towards White Gates. Noted as going very well were newcomers to the meeting Michael Browne and James Hind and course debut maker Jo McLoughlin.

The timing beam showed that the lead for Dunlop was just 0.576s as they started Hickman’s favourite part of the course; the mountain section. Harrison was gradually losing touch, he was 5.87s down on Hickman. Coward, Todd, and Hillier completed the leader board; just 1.08s covered them. On the climb up North Barrule and on to Snaefell, Dunlop was marginally the quicker and led by 0.932s as they crossed the tram lines to head towards the highest point at Hailwood Heights; just before Brandywell. Harrison was 6.82s down on Hickman; Coward, Todd, and Conor Cummins (Milenco Padgett’s Honda) filled the leader board; but margins were wafer thin.

The strong headwind on the mountain meant that hopes of a new lap record would be unrealised; Dunlop was 7s down on his time over the mountain in the first race. He completed the first lap at 126.55mph to lead by 0.57s from Hickman (126.588mph), as they flashed away to face Bray Hill for the second time. Harrison lapped at 125.42mph to be 9.94s down on Hickman. Todd, Coward, and Cummins completed our top six.

Dunlop knocked over 10s off his first lap time to Glen Helen; he led by 1.877s as he took the tricky, rising left-hand bend at the glen entrance. Harrison was now 9.57 down on Hickman and safe in third with an advantage of 13.46s over Todd. Coward and Cummins were next; just 6.5s covering the three riders. Hickman pulled back almost 0.5s on the blast to Ballaugh Bridge; could he yet snatch victory with the mountain ahead? The action was excellent on May Hill as they accelerated hard out of Cruickshank’s. Dunlop held a slightly tighter line than the other leading riders and was tucked right under the screen. The beam at White Gates gave him the lead by 1.76s with 14 miles to go. The order behind was unchanged; the gaps slightly larger. The Yamaha was faster than the Triumph on the ascent of the mountain; Dunlop led by 2.8s with just over 7 miles of racing left. At Cronk ny Mona Dunlop led by 3s and he was quickest on the short sprint to the finish line. He crossed the line to win by 2.98s after a final lap at 128.536mph. Hickman and Harrison filled the podium positions; Todd, Coward and Cummins filled the lower leader board places. James Hillier was seventh, Dominic Herbertson eighth, Mike Browne a superb ninth and Paul Jordan tenth.

The second Sidecar race was shaping up to be a very high speed tussle between the Birchall brothers, Peter Founds / Jevan Walmsley and the Crowe brothers. The Birchalls were six seconds inside the lap record at Ballaugh on the second lap; but just as they left the village the dreaded red flag had to be deployed. Some time later it was confirmed that there had been an incident in the same location at which Cesar Chanal had tragically lost his life in the first race. A mood of devastation descended on the island; everyone hoping and praying that no more life had been lost in the pursuit of TT glory.

The story of the short race is that the Birchalls on the Haith Honda had to fight as hard as they ever have to take this win and with it the TT Sidecar Championship. They led by just 0.7s at Glen Helen from Founds / Walmsley (FHO Honda) with the Crowe brothers third, just one 1s behind.  Dave Molyneux / Daryl Gibson (DMR KTM) held 4th; Harry Payne / Mark Wilkes (DAO Yamaha) held 5th with fellow newcomer driver Lee Crawford / Scott Hardie (ARC Suzuki) in 6th. At Ballaugh, the lead had edged up to 1s; with the Crowe brothers 1.3s further back. The Birchalls were first into the sun trap at White Gates; they were, as always fast and neat. Their lead was growing marginally at each timing point; ours showed the lead to be 3.5s; however, the Crowe bothers were now just 0.8s behind Founds / Walmsley.

At the end of their first lap the Birchalls led by 2.3s; with Founds now 2.6s ahead of the Crowes. Molyneux, Payne and Crawford filled the leader board. The Birchalls had pulled the pin on the second lap; they led at Glen Helen by 6.6s from Founds; with the Crowe brothers 2.6s back in third. Just as the Birchalls left Ballaugh the ace was halted by the red flag. The race could not be restarted; nor scheduled for tomorrow; a result was declared at the end of lap 1. Seventh to tenth were Paul Leglise / Melanie Farnier; Gary Bryan / Phil Hyde; Gary Gibson / Tom Christie and Lewis Blackstock / Patrick Rosney.

Sadly; it has been announced that father and son Roger and Bradley Stockton lost their lives in the accident during the Sidecar race. We offer our condolences to the family and friends of Roger and Bradley.

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