Road Racing News

TT 2019: Preview – Part 6 – Superbike/Senior Races

Reigning Pokerstars Senior TT champion, outright lap record holder, the first rider to lap the fabled, mythical Mountain Course at in excess of the 135 mph mark, you can see why Smiths Racing’s Peter Hickman starts for many the warm favourite for big bike honours at TT 2019.

Chipping away with BMW’s latest S1000RR model, Hickman who had a mixed North West 200 results wise, rise in recent years within the International roads scene, has been nothing short of incredible.

Just five years after first tackling the TT Races, his already golden event CV alongside the aforementioned achievements from last year, include two victories, eight podium finishes and 23 laps over the illustrious 130 mph mark.

Lead challenger last June for Senior TT honours, Silicone Engineering Racing’s Dean Harrison heads to Manx shores bolstered by impressive Superbike showing’s at the North West 200.

Unofficially last week lapping under the NW200 lap record, Harrison illustrated again his raw talent, sheer pace and ability to string the nigh on perfect lap together.

Photo by Nick Wheeler

Having come so close to Superbike, Senior triumph’s in 2018, there’s that extra motivation to emerge victorious next month.

Given the amount of track time he’s banked during pre-season test sessions, prior British Superbike Championship rounds, allied to premier class exploits around the Triangle course, he’s perhaps the most in form rider Superbike class wise, going into TT 2019.

Outside of widely tipped pre race favourites Harrison & Hickman, lots of focus will also be on NW200 ‘Rider of The Meeting’, Quattro Plant Wicked Coatings Kawasaki’s James Hillier.

Going into his 12th TT campaign in a not surprisingly extremely positive frame of mind, the 2013 Lightweight TT champion, when speaking about his latest upcoming Mountain Course stint, candidly stated:

“Preparations have gone really well these last few months and culminated last week with the success at the North West 200, where I was competitive in both the wet and dry and obviously delighted to get my first win.

I was competitive on all of the bikes, although I’m still searching for that last little bit on the Superbike.

But the new Kawasaki ZX-10RR is superb, so we’ll look to take full advantage of practice week to get it dialled in further.

The TT is my main event of the year and while the podiums in recent years have been great, I really want to get back onto the top step this year so race wins are what I’m really after in 2019. The team have been brilliant as always and we’ll all be giving 100 percent, so let’s see what we can do.”

Additional potential front runners, include of course Tyco BMW’s Michael Dunlop. As in the Superstock class, perhaps for once a touch under the radar, you can never ever underestimate a racer as determined as him.

Carrying at present a wrist injury, sustained during a testing session at Kirkistown, it’s fair to say preparations for TT 2019, haven’t been ideal for the 18 times TT winner.

Although pre TT action, it’s not been smooth sailing, you just know it’s not wise to think, he’ll only finish third, fourth or fifth, racers like Ballymoney’s Dunlop are capable any time of surprising everyone, pulling off miraculous race victories.

Could next month see him prove again that the impossible is possible? Time will tell. Fellow event legend, Sole Norton runner John McGuinness making a hugely popular return to TT competition, is quietly confident of been in the mix for first rate results.

The North West 200, was it’s fair to say character building for the 23 times TT winner, with the chrome liveried Norton encountering teething problems a plenty during qualifying.

There’s no doubt though about the pace of the great sounding, striking steed, which in the hands of Mountain Course great McGuinness will no question prove more than a touch competitive.

Joining McGuinness as another strong contender for podium finishes, is former Honda Racing team mate, Milenco by Padgetts Conor Cummins.

Holder again of the number 1 plate, it would no question be one of the most popular, most appreciated victories of modern times, if Cummins triumphs next month in the RST Superbike, or Senior races.

Will he finally join the TT winners circle next month? It’s in my opinion a potent possibility, but as showcased by the riders above, the competition is stern, fierce and formidable.

Others more than capable of providing front running Superbike, Senior race challenges include Honda Racing’s Ian Hutchinson & David Johnson, RAF Regular & Reserves Kawasaki’s Gary Johnson and Bathams, Aspire-Ho backed Michael Rutter, who pilots the exotic RC213V-S Honda.

Photo by Tommy Vennard

Keep an eye as well on Ashcourt Racing’s in form Lee Johnston, IRRC Superbike series leader Davey Todd (Penz 13 BMW), Sam West (PRL Racing), Phil Crowe, Derek Sheils (BE Racing In Conjunction With Richardson Kelly Racing), Jamie Coward (PreZ Racing), Stefano Bonetti, Horst Saiger and Duke Road Race Rankings champion Derek McGee.

Further depth to the entry is provided by the likes of Daley Mathison (Penz 13 BMW), Dominic Herbertson (Davies Motorsport), Rob Hodson, Wilcock Consulting backed Michael Evans, David ‘Action’ Jackson, Tom Weeden (BE Racing In Conjunction With Richardson Kelly Racing), Michael Sweeney, Dan Cooper and Brian McCormack (On 1 Racing).

Photo by Mark Corlett

Joining them on the entry list are a host of experienced Mountain Course stalwarts, that includes Davy Morgan, Dave Hewson, Barry Furber, Adrian Harrison, Spain’s Raul Torras Martinez, Richard Charlton, Matt Rees, PRF Racing’s Barry Evans, Jim Hodson and Rhys Hardisty.

Manx GP graduates to gain entries for the showpiece six lap races, include Dean Osborne, Thomas Maxwell, James Chawke and Matt Stevenson (Peoples Bike Team).

As in the Superstock class, just one Mountain Course debutant will tackle the Superbike, Senior races, Switzerland’s Lukas Maurer, who claimed a top five finish at the North West 200.

Boasting an entry brimming with world class quality, the RST Superbike/Senior races, are guaranteed to provide spellbinding competition at TT 2019.

Will it be a case of race winning battles between the likes of Hickman, Harrison and Dunlop, 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