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Thursday, June 9, 2011

Johnson scores first Isle of Man win

From the Isle of Man TT

Gary Johnson achieved his first Isle of Man TT Races victory when he clinched the second Monster Energy Supersport race on Thursday afternoon, winning by 8.4s from fellow Honda rider John McGuinness.

Johnson was in control throughout the race, leading from start to finish. He was already three seconds clear of McGuinness by the first checkpoint at Glen Helen on the opening lap, a lead he'd amazingly trebled by the time the riders swept through Ramsey Hairpin. Race favourite Michael Dunlop was already out though, the Street Sweep Yamaha rider having stopped at Ballacraine although he later proceeded after making lengthy adjustments, his opening lap almost 46 minutes!

An opening lap of 125.587mph gave Johnson the lead though and the Lincolnshire rider had a gap of almost 10 seconds but the battle for second was extremely close, with McGuinness, Guy Martin, Cameron Donald, Bruce Anstey and Dan Kneen separated by just six seconds.

Johnson continued to extend his lead and he went quicker still on his second circuit of the Mountain Course, a lap of 125.892mph putting him 15 seconds clear of McGuinness, an almost unprecedented margin in the Supersport class. Donald was the man on the move though, the Australian relegating Martin to fourth with Kneen was also moving up the leaderboard, the Marks Bloom Racing Yamaha man overhauling Anstey for fifth.

As the leaders made their pit stops, news from Ramsey Hairpin came through that the red flag was being shown with a number of riders stopping including David Hewson, Dan Cooper, Bill Callister and David Madsen-Mygdal but there was no word from race control of any issue and the race at the front continued, the riders who stopped eventually getting going, later to be credited the time lost.

McGuinness and Johnson were pressing ahead but Martin had now dropped time and, after being only half a second down on Donald at the end of lap, that lead had stretched to 10 seconds at Glen Helen, later revealed to be due to having seen a red flag as he swept through Union Mills. Indeed, at Glen Helen, the order was Johnson, Donald, McGuinness, Martin and Kneen, Johnson's lead now standing at 10.9s, four ahead of McGuinness with Martin now 8s further back in fourth.

Going into the final lap Johnson maintained an 11s advantage over Donald, who was now edging away from McGuinness, who was circulating on his own at the head of the field. Kneen was out at Crosby, a cruel end to a fine ride, while Donald nibbled away at Johnson's lead throughout the lap but his Honda expired at Signpost, less than two miles from home. That enabled McGuinness to move up to second with Martin, Amor and Anstey all promoted up the order to third, fourth and fifth. There was double heartbreak for the Wilson Craig Honda team with William Dunlop dropping out of eighth in the closing stages, his engine also having expired.

The late flurry of retirements allowed Conor Cummins to move up to sixth, his best finish of this year’s TT, with Ben Wylie having his best ever TT finish in seventh, again the first privateer to finish. Roy Richardson, James Hillier and Mark Buckley completed the top 10.

The results mean that McGuinness now has 76 points at the top of the TT Championship, 17 clear of Amor.

John Holden and Andy Winkle won their first Isle of Man TT Races fuelled by Monster Energy on Thursday when they took the second three-lap Sure Sidecar race after long time leaders Klaus Klaffenbock and Daniel Sayle hit problems on the final lap.

The Austrian ex-World Champion held a 17-second lead starting the third and final lap but he slowed dramatically and Holden and Winkle took full advantage. After five runner-up spots, they finally took a dream TT win, some 45 seconds clear of Conrad Harrison and Mike Aylott, who claimed a best ever second and, in a race of firsts, Tony Elmer and Darren Marshall took a debut TT podium.

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