Monster Energy Supersport TT Race Two – 2 laps, 75.46 miles

Hickman was in imperious form on The Island.

Conor Cummins was the first away in the reduced-from-four-laps-to-two race with Dean Harrison, the winner of the Supersport race a year ago in second, McGuinness left the line in third with Ian Hutchinson fourth down Bray Hill.

James Hillier was away in fifth and Michael Dunlop, the 18-times TT winner started in sixth place – one ahead of Gary Johnson.

Ian Hutchinson was forced to stop early on though at Quarterbridge, something not right with the Honda, and was seen making adjustments before trying to carry on but the bike had had enough after a couple of miles – game over.

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At Glen Helen on the first lap and it was Harrison already pushing hard, overtaking Cummins by 7.6s. James Hillier wasn’t to be outdone on the smaller bike though and as he came through the timing marker it was indeed Hillier who topped the timesheets by 0.3s over Harrison. Cummins’ lead was equally shortlived however with Peter Hickman just edging into the lead by 0.061s. Lee Johnston, the winner of 2019’s first Supersport race was in fifth quickest spot by the early-doors spot.

Ballaugh Bridge saw Hickman dropping to third, Hiller upping his pace to second with Harrison digging in to re-take the lead by 0.532s and Hickman just 0.079s further back. Less than a second covering the top three.

It was all change again at Ramsey as Hickman struck back at Harrison at the start of the run over The Mountain section, Pete edging back into the lead by just 0.038s over Harrison – the pair taking the race away from Hillier in third with James 1.660s back in an increasingly distant podium spot.

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Hillier pegged back on Harrison over the Mountain climb, reducing the gap to 0.936 but it was all about Hickman over the open Mountain, he smashed Harrison’s first lap attack to be 1.791s in the lead as they started their run to the Grandstand. It was an incredible run on the smaller capacity bikes that were running around 12s a lap faster than they managed in the first supersport race of 2019 thanks in part to the better weather conditions.

With no pit-stop in the shortened race, the second lap was a straight flyer over the start/finish line and as the supersport bikes appeared opposite the Grandstand nothing was in place to cause Hickman to slow. The fastest ever rider around the TT Mountain Course was also getting quicker on his 675cc bike – now 2.304s ahead of Harrison.

Lap two and Harrison and Cummins were together through Glen Helen on the road (10.4s parting them on the timesheets) with just 15s separating the top eight. Hickman must have had a big issue on the run from Grandstand to Glen Helen because Hickman was now second to Harrison by 0.546s. Harrison, known to be very quick through the non-Mountain sections of the TT course saw his chance to pounce on what now was the final lap of the middleweight race.

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All eyes were locked on the timesheets as leader Harrison made his dash to Ballaugh. At the iconic bridge Harrison was absolutely flying, pulling out another second on Hillier in third. But it was Hickman who was really piling on the coals. Not to be outdone by Harrison’s pace, Hickman was once again back in the lead – now enjoying a 0.323s lead. Not much of a lead, but given how well Hickman goes over the Mountain, the fourth lead change of the race was exactly what Pete needed to spur him on.

Ramsey and the start of the run over the Snaefell mountain and there was nothing between Hickman and Harrison, the gap staying at 0.363s. Hillier also held pace and time in the run to the mountain section, comfortably sitting in third place still 4.791s down on Harrison.

Hickman lit the touch paper over the Mountain once again and what was 0.3 at Ramsey was 0.909 at The Bungalow as the riders climbed the winding Mountain section to the highest point at Brandywell to then begin their decent. With nearly a second in hand it was Hickman’s to lose even through Harrison had just put in his quickest climb over the Mountain.

And indeed over the line to end the two-lap race it was Hickman who took the win in the second Supersport TT of Race Week, taking top spot by 3.302s – TT win number four for Hickman. A year ago Harrison beat Hickman in the race, Hillier third so it was the same trio taking top honours this year, just the top two trading positions.

Hickman’s flying lap was a 128.14mph, Harrison managed 128.02mph with Hillier 127.59mph.

Speaking in Parc Ferme after the race, Hickman said: “We were trying so hard to win a race at the TT on the smaller bike. The bike’s beenmega. I just needed to pull my finger out, everyone knows I’m steady at the start of the race and the practice lap this morning on the superbike really helped me out – it got me going.

“That’s only my sixth lap on that bike this TT. I’m well happy with that result.”

Harrison added: “I got away and I was having a bit of a slow start, just checking the conditions and that but the conditions were getting better and better.

“I got the first board and it said ‘P4’ and I thought that I need to get going here. I made a couple of mistakes though in a couple of place, I knackered into Governor’s and the back end of the bike came around on me and I went over the kerb and carried on.

“I feel really good now for the race later. I had a bit of a huff on after the first supersport race in fourth but we put a new engine in and it came good this time.”

Hillier said: “I don’t know what I was doing wrong. That was maximum effort – I couldn’t do much there. I made a couple of tiny errors, missing apexes here and there but there wasn’t much more I could do.

“There wasn’t much left there.”

Tony Carter

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