GRR

Isle of Man TT 2022 results

13th June 2022
James Charman

After three long years the Isle of Man TT finally made its triumphant return, and with records breaking up and down the paddock, it certainly made up for lost time.

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The action began in practice week, with Davey Todd continuing his phenomenal form he enjoyed at the North West 200 by topping the timesheets and sending the road racing community into a Todd frenzy, propelling him to the sharp end of everyone’s predictions for race week. There had been questions as to whether the riders would be able to return to the top speeds that quickly after a three-year hiatus, although Hickman doubted it would make much difference, and proved his theory right as he set the first 130mph lap of the event on just the second night of practice.

It was a somewhat truncated week of practice, held up by multiple delays for a wide range of reasons, not always related to the racing. The result of which saw the sidecars with a very depleted lap count heading into race week, while a number of the top solo riders had to prioritise their favoured machines. For example, Peter Hickman didn’t get much time to run his Supertwin, while Lee Johnston focussed predominantly on his 600cc machine, knowing that the Supersport TT was his best chance of victory across the week.

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Despite the interruptions, the cream still rose to the top, and the pre-pandemic Hickman/Harrison rivalry looked to be as strong as it was in 2019 in the big bike classes. Hickman led the way in both Superbike and Superstock, but had both Dean Harrison and Davey Todd nipping at his heels all week. Michael Dunlop looked on form in the Supersport class, a category he’s really made his own in the past with seven of his 19 TT wins coming in the Junior TT, as well as holding the lap record.

Hickman and Dunlop led the way in the Supertwin category, separated by just two tenths of a second, while Lee Johnston and Jamie Coward both put in competitive times. Unsurprisingly, it was the Birchall brothers topping the Sidecar times by the end of the week, but it was Peter Founds and Jevan Walmsley who topped the standings on the opening night. Meanwhile, local heroes Ryan and Callum Crowe continued to show mountains of potential in only their second year at the TT.

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While there were plenty of exciting reminders as to why the TT is loved by racers and fans alike, qualifying week also provided a stark reminder of just how cruel the event, and the course, can be. Riding in the Supersport category, Welsh rider Mark Purslow came off his Yamaha through the fast right hander at Ballagarey, and sadly died as a result of the injuries sustained in the incident.

Superbike TT

As is tradition, race week opened on Saturday, with the Superbike TT and the first of two Sidecar TTs slated to take place. A new addition to the schedule came first, however, with the first ever warm-up laps for the solos slotting into the traditional 10:45 start time. Michael Dunlop went fastest, and was one of a very small selection of riders opting to take their Superbike out. Despite the race being for Superbike machines, most of the front runners decided to run the Superstock bike in case of any mechanical issues seeing as there was no motorcycle recovery available, meaning if your race bike broke down during warm-up, that was you done for the day.

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With the sun beaming down and providing some of the best conditions seen all week, the anticipation mounted and with the wave of the tiny Manx flag, just like that, John McGuinness accelerated away from Glencruthery Road and shot off down Bray Hill for the 100th time. From the very first split it was clear that there was only one thing in the mind of Peter Hickman – victory. Setting a blistering 133mph lap from a standing start, he pulled the special Gas Monkey Garage-backed FHO Racing machine almost ten seconds clear by the end of lap one ahead of closest rival Dean Harrison. From then on Hickman just continued to pull away and it was a case of seeing how fast could he go, and whether we’d get a new lap record. Such was his lead, however, that rather than push unnecessarily, Hickman just controlled the gap, and cruised home to take his sixth TT win, with enough left in the tank for a couple of massive wheelies to leave the fans down by Creg-ny-Baa and Signpost Corner a photo souvenir to remember.

While Hickman was making it look easy at the front, the battle for the podium places remained a closely fought contest. Harrison held second, but had a pair of Padgetts Hondas to keep him occupied, with Ramsey legend Conor Cummins leading his up-and-coming team-mate Davey Todd, the three riders separated by less than two seconds. Unfortunately, a recurring nightmare cropped up for Todd in the form of a blown tyre. With Dunlop mandating that riders only use their treaded tyre rather than the slick that caused so many problems at the North West 200, many were shocked when Todd’s bike returned to the paddock after a lap two retirement to see the very same damage that had happened to both FHO bikes in Northern Ireland. Upon inspection it was discovered that it was down to Todd’s bike running low tyre pressures, and, as a result, Dunlop issued a minimum pressure limit for the remainder of the event. It was a bad lap for the Padgetts team, as Cummins also retired on the same lap, leaving Harrison with a 17-second gap back to Michael Dunlop in third by the time of the first pitstop.

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From then on there wasn’t really much in the way of battling, other than just watching the fastest riders take on the world’s greatest racing track. The top three were fairly nailed on from lap three onwards, with Hickman leading home Harrison and Michael Dunlop, while Ian Hutchinson and John McGuinness rounded out the top five - a fantastic result for McPint in his centenary start. The biggest story of the race, outside of Hickman’s dominance, was Glenn Irwin’s outstanding debut performance. In just his first start around the Snaefell Mountain Course, helped by a number of high-profile retirements, he came home in eighth, but, more importantly, broke the newcomer’s lap record with a jaw-dropping speed of 129.104mph

Sidecar TT Race 1

The three-wheeling competitors may have somewhat mixed emotions when they look back on their 2022 TT experiences, as after all of their difficulties in getting running time during practice week through no fault of their own, their race lasted less than four minutes before a red flag brought proceedings to a halt and saw the race postponed to Monday. It would later be confirmed that the red flag had been flown for an incident involving the French newcomers César Chanel and Olivier Lavorel, with original reports claiming Lavorel had sadly lost his life while Chanel was in a critical condition in hospital. A couple of days later, the Isle of Man TT released a statement explaining that there had been a case of mistaken identity, and it was in fact Chanel who had died in the accident.

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The rescheduled race, run over two laps instead of three, was, again, delayed after a late red flag in the first Supersport race. Eventually, however, the race got underway and the Birchalls did what the Birchalls do best. Leading away on the road as well as the standings, Ben and Tom got their heads down and set about chasing the elusive 120mph lap. Had they had a third lap, there’s all the possibility that they may have achieved it, but came home just two tenths shy of their own lap record.

The battle for the remaining podium positions, however, was one for the ages. The Crowe brothers set off incredibly well, leading the Founds/Walmsley outfit by 1.5 seconds at the start of the second and final lap. Founds managed to overhaul the Manx brothers on the run up to the Bungalow, but the youngsters pulled out all the stops on the final portion of the course, coming home just one tenth of a second ahead and securing their first podium in just their second visit to the TT, and on only their tenth ever lap of the course.

Supersport TT Race 1

The Supersport TT was always going to be one of the most hotly contested races all week, and the first encounter absolutely lived up to the hype. In one corner you had Peter Hickman looking to continue his form from Saturday and set up the opportunity to become the first man to ever win six races in one week, while in the other you had Dean Harrison looking to bounce back after being humbled by Hickman on the big bikes, and a Michael Dunlop keen to get back onto the form everyone knows he’s capable of.

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As with all races run on Monday, a lap had been cut so the race was run over three laps instead of four, and right from the off it was clear Dunlop wanted this one, blasting his way around the 37.73-mile lap to take a three second lead ahead of Harrison by the end of the first tour. In stark contrast to the Superbike race, the top four were covered by around six seconds, and was setting up a battle for the ages. Meanwhile Davey Todd, a pundits’ “one to watch” simply couldn’t get up to speed, later admitting his tyre issues from Saturday were playing with his head. A slow pitstop for Lee Johnston saw his chances of victory slip away, while Peter Hickman struggled for power on his Triumph compared to his rivals. That left a two-lap duel between Dunlop and Harrison, which at one point saw them separated by just one tenth of a second on the final lap. Running at lap record pace, the two battled fiercely across the mountain, and it was Dunlop who came out on top, beating his own lap record in the process and bringing the 600s even closer to the coveted 130mph lap.

While the race was full of excitement, tragic news came down from the mountain after the front runners had taken the flag and finished their celebrations. Road racing stalwart Davy Morgan had sadly come off at the 27th Milestone, and passed away as a result of his injuries.

Superstock TT

Originally scheduled to take place on Monday afternoon, delays across both Saturday and Monday morning saw the Superstock TT pushed back to the evening, with riders having to deal with the low sun as they took their 1,000cc stock machines to the grid. The conditions weren’t to be a problem, with riders used to them having spent all practice week setting off at similar times.

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Once again Peter Hickman set off like a man possessed, looking to make up for his lack of pace in the Supersport race earlier in the day. With Hickman running tenth on the road and Davey Todd setting off at number eight, it seemed on the first split at Glen Helen like Todd was going to be on for a sniff at the top step, but then the Gas Monkey by FHO Racing BMW came flying through and, once again, no-one could come close as he just pulled further and further ahead. A twelve second lead at the end of the first lap – and the mandatory pit stops – was enough for Hickman to begin managing the gap, as he’d so expertly done in the Superbike race, and came home for his second win of the week.

With Hickman doing Hickman things up at the front, the Padgetts boys set about putting things right after their disappointing start in the Superbike TT. Davey Todd looked strong on the first two laps and looked a shoo-in to get his first ever podium at the Isle of Man TT, and on the second step no less, but on the final lap Cummins turned up the wick to maximum. Absolutely flying around the Mountain Course, he put in his fastest lap ever (133.116mph) and closed the gap on Hickman by six seconds, leaving many to wonder if there had been a fourth lap, whether Hickman would have held on or whether Cummins would finally get that elusive first win. Cummins also said he had a tricky opening lap, where he feels he lost a number of seconds, so it could have been closer still, but that’s the nature of TT racing.

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There were no heroics from Glenn Irwin on this occasion, the British Superbike ace parking up after just one lap on the Stocker. Instead, the hero award this time went to Sam West. Having caused the first red flag of the week with a fiery accident during practice, he returned, at anything but 100% fitness, to compete during race week and put in a hugely impressive 124.515mph lap to come home in 21st out of 38 finishers.

Supertwin TT

Run over three laps instead of the scheduled four after overnight rain delayed the start of proceedings while the circuit attempted to dry itself out, the first race in the new era of Supertwin TTs eventually got away under bright sunshine at the Grandstand.

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Straight out of the gate, Michael Dunlop and Peter Hickman were going at it hammer and tongs, and swapped the lead multiple times throughout the first 37.73 miles, with a margin that at one point was as small as 0.04 seconds, and at no point was greater than a second. Even their mandatory pit stops at the end of lap one were within a tenth of each other, such was the closeness of the two riders. Flying past the Grandstand on to the final flying lap, Hickman held a half-second lead over the now-20-times winner Dunlop and it all seemed to be shaping up to go right down to the wire and into the history books as one of the more thrilling TTs. However, there was a collective groan as Peter Hickman was the first rider clocked through Glen Helen, with Dunlop following nearly 20 seconds later and a full minute back on corrected time. Despite stopping to try and make adjustments to salvage a result, Dunlop was black flagged at Sulby Bridge and worked his way back to the paddock on the open roads.

While Dunlop and Hickman were separated by fractions of a second, they’d worked up a mammoth lead over the rest of the field, with Lee Johnston sitting best of the rest at the time of Dunlop’s retirement, a full 70 seconds back on the timing screens. It had been a tough week up to this point for Johnston, with a pit stop issue costing him a potential podium in the first Supersport race, and an allergic reaction to the Manx pollen causing vision issues meaning he was unable to achieve the performances he would have hoped ahead of the event. His vision was so bad by the end of the week that he pulled in halfway through the second Supersport race and withdrew himself from the Senior at the same time.

Johnston was having a bit of a lonely Supertwin race, holding a further 20 second lead back to the chasing pack of Frenchman Pierre Yves Bian, Paul Jordan and James Hind. With Dunlop out and pre-race favourite Jamie Coward also suffering engine failure, Bian and Jordan suddenly found themselves battling for an unexpected shot at the final podium position. It looked as if Bian was going to take a fantastic top three result, which would have been the perfect addition to a road racing season that has already seen him become the first Frenchman to win at the North West 200. However, it was not to be, as Paul Jordan chased him down and overhauled him on the last lap to take an equally popular first podium.

Supersport TT Race 2

The second of the Supersport races of the week was rescheduled twice before it finally was able to get underway. Originally scheduled as a four-lap race, the first rescheduled race was due to run as a standalone race on Thursday, before the weather forced a second rethink, eventually creating a packed three-race schedule for Friday’s traditional Senior Day, a national holiday for the Isle of Man. The busy nature of the timetable, however, meant that yet another lap had to be cut from the race distance, and the Supersport race was run over half of the originally planned distance.

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Michael Dunlop and Peter Hickman picked up right where they’d left off in the Supertwin TT, the two separated by mere tenths of a second throughout the entire first lap. Dunlop’s starting position on the road seemed to work in his favour as Hickman began to encounter traffic through the second and final lap, allowing Dunlop to stretch out a lead of nearly two seconds to Glen Helen. Hickman pulled back half a second to the jump at Ballaugh Bridge, but by the time they’d reached the heights of the Bungalow, Dunlop had pulled 2.7 seconds on his rival. A further half a second was pulled out by the Ballymoney man on the run down the Mountain and back to the Grandstand, and was enough to secure Dunlop’s 21st TT win, and take a clean sweep of Junior TT victories in 2022.

As was the case with the Supertwins, Dunlop and Hickman were in a class of their own, with Dean Harrison the best of the rest, lapping ten seconds a lap slower than the eventual winner. That was more than enough to secure his third podium result of the week, and the third Dunlop-Hickman-Harrison podium. Davey Todd slotted home in fourth, with Jamie Coward, who had been bumped up to a starting number of nine, finishing fifth.

Sidecar Race 2

Looking to follow a thrilling Supersport encounter, the Sidecars lined up on Glencrutchery Road to take on another 75-mile, two-lap dash around the Island. With all eyes on the Birchall brothers and whether or not they’d finally crack that 120mph lap, there was a bit of a shock when, throughout the first lap, they just couldn’t seem to shake off the chasing pair of Peter Founds and Jevan Walmsley.

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The new live footage showed some brilliant clips of just how close to the edge the Birchalls were pushing, with their outfit skipping across the jumps around the course in a way that caused an involuntary intake of breath. The end of the first lap saw the Birchalls leading Founds & Walmsley by just two seconds, with the breakthrough stars from the first race, Ryan and Callum Crowe, just two seconds further back. Meanwhile Dave Molyneux and Daryl Gibson, aboard the new 890cc KTM outfit, managed to hold on to fourth place at the Grandstand, a promising showing for the new regulations, with only two outfits opting for the new larger engines instead of the tried and tested 600s.

As the second lap began, the Birchalls turned up the wick, and were absolutely flying through the first two sectors to Glen Helen and Ballaugh, not only looking on lap record pace, but looking set to absolutely smash their previously held record. Unfortunately, that was as far as they would make it as, for the second time of the week, an incident at Ago’s leap brought out the red flag and the race came to a premature end. Later that evening it was confirmed that the father and son outfit of Roger and Bradley Stockton had been the involved in the incident, with both succumbing to their injuries. The race was called a result after one lap, handing Ben and Tom Birchall their 12th victory around the TT course, although not one that they’ll be wanting to remember in a hurry.

Senior TT

With a lengthy delay following the Sidecar race, and rain rolling in across the island, the running of the blue riband Senior TT hung in the balance on Friday evening. With heavy wind forecast and a lack of available marshals for Saturday, it looked like the race may not be run at all, before a surge in volunteers coming forward on Friday night allowing the organisers to aim for an 11:00am start on Saturday, and running over the full six-lap distance, rather than the four that had been scheduled in the busy Friday plans.

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While the winds were strong on Saturday morning, they were not strong enough to stop the Senior from getting underway, and 22 hours later than originally planned, John McGuinness set off down Bray Hill to start the final race of the 2022 Isle of Man TT. Once again, Peter Hickman was the man to beat, having taken victory in the two 1,000cc races already (Superbike and Superstock), and while Dean Harrison had the measure of Hickman to the first checkpoint at Glen Helen, the Gas Monkey Garage-backed BMW flew to the next timing beam at Ballaugh, pulling out a 2.4 second lead on Harrison. Hickman then set about pulling out a gap on the field, and never looked back. Eight seconds at the end of the first lap, became a 14.6-second gap by the first round of pit stops on lap two. From then on it was a case of managing the margin for the remaining four laps, the weather taking away any real opportunity for lap records to fall.

The lap charts may suggest it was a simple and lonely race for Dean Harrison, having passed John McGuinness to be the first bike on the road shortly after Glen Helen on the first lap, he would be quick to tell you it was anything but. A bird strike on the first lap left a gaping hole in his windscreen, before a pigeon became the second of Harrison’s avian victims on the final lap - the Kawasaki rider riding around with a pigeon’s foot in his boot for the few miles.

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The final spot on the podium saw an incredibly close-fought, race-long, battle between the Padgetts Hondas, with Davey Todd coming incredibly close to overhauling the hometown hero of Conor Cummins on the last lap. It would be Cummins who would get the better of his up-and-coming team-mate, reaching the podium for the second time of the week, and claiming another laurel wreath for the walls of his Ramsey coffee shop. Michael Dunlop rounded out the top five, but was over 100 seconds behind the Padgetts pairing at the end of the race.

It was a race to forget for the Honda Racing team, with John McGuinness caught speeding in the pitlane at the end of lap one and receiving a 30-second time penalty as a result. Retirements in front of McGuinness eventually brought him back up to ninth at the finish line, and would have been eighth had he stuck to the pit limit. Meanwhile, rookie team-mate Glenn Irwin looked on course for an impressive top ten in his debut Senior TT, and was eyeing up a 130mph lap on the last tour, before a mechanical issue forced him to park up at the second pitstop, his body language making it very easy to see just how disappointed he was.

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And that was that. After nearly 950 miles of racing, and many more in practice, across the two weeks, the residents on the Isle of Man had their daily commutes back, uninterrupted. It was a TT that had everything you’d expect from a TT, including the bits that no-one ever wants. It was an emotional rollercoaster that left even the most seasoned of TT fans feeling a little sombre at times. While the headlines will likely focus on the five riders who paid the ultimate price in chasing their dreams, there was plenty to remind the world why the TT is regarded as the greatest motorcycle race in the world, and thankfully we won’t have to wait three years to do it all again this time.

Images courtesy of Isle of Man TT.

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