Road Racing News

TT 2018: Preview – Part 6 – Superbike/Senior Races

With victories in five of the last eight big bike races, plus holding the honour of being the first rider to lap the Mountain Course under 17 minutes, you can see why many tout Michael Dunlop as the current undisputed master Superbike wise of the most famous road racing circuit in the world.

Joining forces this year with Tyco BMW, the high profile partnership has showed signs of strong promise, illustrated by an impressive second place finish at the North West 200.

As showcased in the TT’s of 2014 and 2016, Ballymoney’s Dunlop when he clicks fully with BMW’s iconic S1000RR, can prove at times virtually unbeatable.

Will he this June, add a fourth Senior TT triumph to his CV? If he does it will provide Tyco BMW team owners TAS Racing, with a first blue riband Mountain Course title since Adrian Archibald’s victory from 2004.

Amongst those confident of pushing and potentially beating 15 times TT winner Dunlop, include Smiths Racing’s Peter Hickman, who has developed in recent years into one of the ‘elite’ competitors of the Mountain Course.

A seven times international road race winner, it’s not a question of if, it’s a question of when in my opinion before he records a first TT victory. Will this prove the case next month? It wouldn’t surprise many.

Showcased at the North West 200, Honda’s still developing SP2 Fireblade is steadily getting closer to the pace needed to contend for international roads titles.

Third in last weeks NW200 feature Superbike race, Lee Johnston whilst not widely considered a front running big bike contender, has the undoubted talent, team around him and most of all confidence to surprise some by recording maiden Superbike/Senior rostrum finishes.

Photo by Rod Neill

Whilst good friend Silicone Engineering Racing’s Dean Harrison is ready to step up this year in the big bike classes, aiming to collect a first Superbike win.

Ulster GP lap record holder, runner up in the opening Superbike race at the North West 200, like Quattro Plant/JG Speedfit Kawasaki’s James Hillier, he’s a rider not to be underestimated.

Both extremely naturally talented riders, they both have the core pace to be right at the sharp end of the six lap races.

Padgetts Racing’s Conor Cummins holder for the first time of the coveted number 1 plate, cannot be discounted from accumulating podium finishes, same applies to Gary Johnson (RAF Regular & Reserves Kawasaki), Michael Rutter (Bathams SMT Racing), David Johnson (Gulf BMW) and Tyco BMW’s Dan Kneen.

Don’t discount as well Honda Racing’s Ian Hutchinson, still chipping away with his race fitness, from surprising everyone and recording at minimum top five finishes or better.

Lots of attention will also be placed upon Norton’s latest TT challenge, which following John McGuinness withdrawal is solely lead by former British Superbike champion Josh Brookes.

Photo by Mark Corlett

It’s going to be interesting to see how competitive the new SG7 will be, as it goes up against the factory backed steeds of BMW, Kawasaki and Honda.

One of motorcycling’s most popular brands, thousands would love to see the Norton name, back on the podium at the TT. In reigning Senior Classic TT race winner Brookes they have a rider of the very highest calibre, who is more than capable of securing elite results.

William Dunlop (Temple Golf Club Yamaha) leads the Yamaha entry, whilst additional ones to watch include Penz 13 BMW’s Derek Sheils, Danny Webb and Jamie Coward, the on form Martin Jessopp (Riders Motorcycles BMW) and Dafabet Devitt Racing’s Ivan Lintin.

Photo by Steve Snelling

Additional rising Mountain Course stars to keep an eye on include Steve Mercer (Jackson Racing), Sam West (PRL Worthington Racing), McAdoo Kawasaki’s James Cowton and Adam McLean, Brian McCormack (TAG Racing IRL), Daley Mathison, Derek McGee, Craig Neve (Jackson Racing), Andy Dudgeon (Slick Performance Racing), Michael Sweeney (Martin Jones Racing) and Dan Cooper.

Manx GP graduates to gain entries for the showpiece 1000cc races include Michael Evans (Wilcock Consulting Racing), Barry Evans (PRF Racing), Darren Cooper (NW Racing), Mike Norbury (ECTA Racing) and Rhys Hardisty (The Peoples Bike Team).

Photo by Nick Wheeler

Roads heroes varying from continental Europe through to South Africa, entered include Stefano Bonetti, Spain’s Raul Torras Martinez, Kamil Holan, the French trio of Xavier Denis (Optimark Road Racing), Julien Toniutti and Fabrice Miguet plus Mountain Course returnee AJ Venter (Cookstown BE Racing).

The three TT debutants set to sample the six lap races are the highly rated Davey Todd (Cookstown BE Racing) plus fellow next gen road racers David ‘Action’ Jackson (The Peoples Bike Team) and Adam Lyon.

Boasting an entry brimming with world class quality, the RST Superbike/Pokerstars Senior races, are guaranteed to provide spellbinding competition at TT 2018.

Photo by Tommy Vennard

Will it be a case of race winning battles between the likes of Dunlop, Hickman and Harrison, can Honda fight again for big bike honours, or will we have a couple of surprise race winners? We will all find out soon.

Words by Stevie Rial

>