Retro Racing: TT 2010 – Five in a week!
pRacing Retro: During the Coronavirus shutdown of motorcycle Racing Lowdown will bring you some retro pieces. This post looks back to the 2010 Isle of Man TT where Ian Hutchinson made history by becoming the first rider to win five races in a week.
The International season began, as usual, with the Northwest 200. Heading for the Causeway Coast enthusiasm was brewing once again for a return to the glory days of road racing. New stars were on the rise but the established names were still contending. Michael Dunlop and Ian Hutchinson were both already TT winners. Guy Martin was now a regular front runner. A changing of the guard was starting on the roads.
That being the said the old dogs still had plenty of life. Steve Plater, HM Plant Honda, was now the world’s fastest road racer. John McGuinness, about to start of his 11th TT, was still a man to beat. Add into the mix Cameron Donald, Bruce Anstey, Ryan Farquhar and others and this was a Road Racing season that promised plenty of thrills.
At the Northwest Plater set the pole time for the Superbike class. This was the last we saw of the 2009 Senior TT winner in 2010 however. A huge crash at 120mh in mean season his season was over before it started. with a fractured arm and a broken vertebrae. At the Northwest 200 Alistair Seeley, who had claimed his first win at the event in 2008, was now established as a front runner at the opening International meeting of the year and he duly picked up a Superbike race win.
Seeley’s TAS Suzuki teammates, Donald and Anstey, looked to be struggling to find their form ahead of the TT with Keith Amor and Hutchinson looking strong as the Road Racing world got ready for two weeks on the island.Hutchinson, winner of a Supersport race at the Northwest 200, arrived on the island in confident mode. Having won his first TT in 2007 he had switched to Yamaha the following year. It proved a disaster but now in his second year with Clive Padgetts squad he was coming into his own.
Practice Week: Keeping your powder dry
As the Road Racing world headed for The Rock there was an expectation that the TT could be one for the ages. Lots of contenders, new and old, were rounding into form. TT 2010 promised to be one to remember.
Optimism wasn’t the only thing hangingin the air however. The opening days of practice and qualifying were badly hit by the weather God’s. From dawn on the opening day of practice it was clear that riders wouldn’t get out to test their machinery. For some, such as Keith Amor who had been drafted in as Plater’s replacement, it was a chance to get an extra hours sleep rather than worry about missed mileage. There’d be plenty of opportunity to get yourself dialled in through the week he quipped.
When practice got underway Bruce Anstey was straight out on his Suzuki Superbike with the Kiwi focusing on his big bike performance after years of being the pacesetter on a Supersport. After heavy rain the previous day the times were impressive with a 128 from Hutchinson setting a fast pace from the outset.
After the 128 of Hutchy there was a buzz for the next day of practice but once again it was the weather that set the agenda with lots of damp patches around the island. With Hutchinson continuing to set the pace it was encouraging to see Guy Martin make progress. The Wilson Craig squad struggled at the Northwest 200 but were not finding their feet in practice.
McGuiness started the week third fastest on his HM Plant Honda with a 127mph lap. Afterwards the King of the Mountain said it was business as usual for Day 1 with the cobwebs blown away, your arms falling off from hanging on tight and gradually getting more comfortable out there! By Day 2 he was at 128mph and finding his form. He was the first man to lap at over 130mph in practice on Wednesday and from that point onwards he was ready. By the final night of practice the team felt their job was done and there was no need to lap again.
On the otherside of the HM Plant Honda awning Keith Amor spent practice week building himself up on his TT return. A 122mph on the first day of practice was followed by 126 then 127 and 128. His move to HM Plant Honda came at the very last minute after Steve Plater’s injury but the Scot was out to make the most of his opportunity and getting faster by the day.
At the end of practice week one of the key focuses for teams, riders and organisers was to test the pitlane speed limit. This would come back to be crucial during the opening race of the week where suddenly riders were given a 60kmp/h limit rather than the old system of stopping on entry and putting their foot on the ground before going to their team’s refuelling section. It made for a chaotic practice session with riders adapting to a new system that would make for a much safer working environment. The issue for riders was that without the “STOP BOX” they were struggling to adapt to understand their braking point for pit-lane. Some said it would easy to leave it slightly late and speed during a stop…
The penalty would be 30s if you were speeding but less than 20kmp/h above the limit. If you came in faster the penalty would be 60s added to your race time. The new penalty was much harsher than the previous penalty of 10s for not stopping in the box.
When practice drew to a close Hutchinson was topping the times but to pick a favourites was tough.
Delayed start to racing. Worth the wait
Race week began with the sun splitting the stones…for 90% of the track. Douglas and the paddock however was engulfed by a thick fog. An almost four hour delay ensued until the fog had cleared and racing could begin with the Superbike TT. In Practice Week Hutchey had set the pace but he suffered a puncture on the final night of practice and was lucky to escape without crashing. His wits were sure to have to been heightened by the incident but as the field set off, led by Anstey, the six laps were set to give us a race to remember.
McGuiness settled into an early lead on the opening lap but he would grind to a halt midway through the lap. Local ace Conor Cummins would take up the baton with a 131mph opening salvo. Could the Kawasaki rider end the hoodoo for locals since Milky Quayle? An eight second lead over Hutchinson with Guy Martin in third looked to set the scene for a classic. Cummins was flying and easily the fastest man on the road but lost time at his first pitstop before disaster struck at his second and he couldn’t get the bike restarted. A mechanical failure would later rule him out of contention.
Martin was removed from contention by a pitlane speed infraction, after the race he was handed a 30sec penalty and dropped off the podium, with Dunlop and Donald standing alongside Hutchinson.
It was an action packed start to race week but with the Closer to the Edge film crew in attendance the drama was only set to ramp up further.
Martin out to make ammends
Guy Martin was out for blood on the second day of racing. The Lincolnshire native was still furious after his time penalty in the Superbike race and he was out for vengeance on his CBR600RR. The Wilson Craig rider was fired up for the four lap race and on the opening lap he put that fury to good use by leading from Hutchinson in the early stages. Over the Mountain Section however Hutchy was on fire and, as would be the case for the week, this provided the foundation of his success.
While the Manx crowd had cheered on Cummins during the opeinng race of the festival they now also had Dan Kneen at the sharp end. The Manxman looked in great form and was sitting third but faced a battle with Michael Dunlop.
At the halfway point, with the pitstops taking place, the Padgetts squad turned Hutchy around faster than his rivals and he continued to stretch his lead at the front but on the final lap Martin broke the Supersport lap record to close to within three seconds of the race winner. The frustration was doubled moments later as Keith Amor bested Martin’s lap to set a new lap record. Finally able to stand on the podium at TT 2010 it seemed the week was starting to turn for Martin…except he initially refused to take part in the celebrations. The runner-up wanted to punish the organiser for the previous days mishap and after being cajoled to the rostrum he stood glum faced and made a sharp exit.
Superstock, not Supershock
It was on the ‘stocker that Hutchinson had had his near miss in final practice. Now, he was armed and ready to win again. Two races, two wins. He wanted to keep his good form going but the Superstock TT was likely to be the biggest test. A deep field with lots of riders enjoying strong form meant picking a winner was almost impossible.
Hutchy had the form but with Cummins, Dunlop, Amro and Farquhar all fast in practice and Anstey, Donald and McGuiness having all their experience forecasting a winner was a fools errand. Honda, BMW, Suzuki and Kawasaki all had bikes capable of winning. The stage was set for a classic TT.
On the opening lap the top five were all within touching distance but it was Farquhar who amazed by setting 129mph from a standing start. The most successful racer in the history the Irish National meets was in stunning form and wanted to add to his TT account. On the second lap he smashed the Superstock lap record and edged closer to the 130mph barrier.
With the pitstops now taking place the race was at its mid-point with Farquhar holding a nine second advantage to Hutchinson. Once again the Padgetts squad worked wonders and turned around that deficit in the pits. All the hard work would have to be done again by Farquhar who now trailed on corrected time.
All of the big names battling it out in the top six but it came down to Hutchinson and Farquhar. It came down to the Mountain. It came down to, once again, Hutchy’s brilliance over Snaefell. With Plater sitting out the TT as he nursed his injuries from three weeks earlier the title of King of the Mountain was passing seamlessly to Hutchinson. The first ever 130mph for a Superstock machine was enough to be the difference between the leaders over the line. Hutchinson had done it by one second in one of the closest finishes in TT history.
Hutchy makes it four!
The talk at the start of the TT had been that this had the potential to be a TT for the ages. Now it turned to could anyone stop Hutchinson winning five in a week and making history? If you’re aready being talked about in regards to one of the last remaining great TT feats to be achieved your place in the history books is strong. Now Hutchinson had to make it count. Two races and ten laps stood between him and TT immortality.
The four lap Supersport race was held in great conditions. With his confidence peaking Hutchinson set off from the outset to stamp his authority on proceedings but this time it was Hutchinson and Michael Dunlop duking it out. This race however was set to take a sombre turn with a crash on Lap 2 seeing Paul Dobbs lose his life. With the race continuing, with the section having waved yellow flags, it was claimed that some riders didn’t yield past the accident. Having held an almost five second lead the gap was now down to nothing between Hutchinson and Dunlop.
At the end of the lap with the riders in the pits this was a rare race where the Padgetts squad were slower at the turnaround with Dunlop picking up time in the pits and now holding the race lead. In the second half of the Hutchinson was going to have dig deep-a repeat of his Superstock win. Going into the final lap Hutchinson held a slender leader.
The lead would see-saw between Dunlop and Hutchinson. At the halfway point of the lap it was Dunlop and by Ramsey he held a two second advantage. The race, however, was now over the Mountain. Hutchinson had shown this was his forte throughout the fortnight and by the flag he broke the lap record. Was it enough to hold off Dunlop though?
The Ulsterman was behind him on the road but having started the lap behind he had to make up the time on that final lap. A new Supersport lap record (0.2 mph faster than Hutchinson) wasn’t quite enough. Dunlop had missed out on the win.
Triumph amidst chaos
Five in a week. What had once been unthinkable was now within touching distance. Hutchinson and his Honda could make history. Fortune had favoured him throughout the fortnight but would it hold for the blue ribbon race; the Senior TT.
Guy Martin, Conor Cummins, Michael Dunlop and Ryan Farquhar all had reason to feel they had been unlucky to miss out on wins. John McGuiness had no luck all week and had been having a miserable time on the island. Cameron Donald and Bruce Anstey could never be underestimated around the Mountain Course. If Hutchy was going to make history he was going to face a big challenge.
Only a couple of years ago the 130mh barrier had been broken by McGuiness. In the 2010 Senior TT it became the norm with the leaders all setting a startling pace. They might have set off at ten second intervals but there was little to choose between them at the first pit stop. Hutchinson was fourth and had ground to make up.
McGuinness was proving why you couldn’t underestimate him by leading on his Honda from Guy Martin. That was until Ballagarey on Lap 3. The Wilson Craig Honda was missing. Quickly word got around as to the reason; Martin at crashed at one of the fastest corners on the TT Mountin Course. It was the same corner where Dobbs had died earlier in the week but luckily for Martin he was injured but not in any danger after a 160mph crash.
The race was red flagged and would restart with a four lap battle. The earlier running would count for nothing and McGuinness would have it all to do again. The elder statesman was incredible on the opening lap of the restarted race. Hutchy took off like a scalded cat to lap at over 131mph but was only 0.6s faster than McGuness. A battle for the ages was brewing and John was out to prove he was still the man in the biggest race of all.
McPint’s battle though was coming to a close. A technical failure was about to rob him of the chance of ending Hutchinson’s winning streak. Fortune was once again favouring the Bingley Bullet who now held a three second lead to Cummins on Lap 2. The Manxman was about to run out of luck and run out of road.
Coming through the Verandah, the four right handers near the top of the Mountain section, Cummins had a monster crash. It was only with the release of Closer to the Edge than fans saw just how horrific the crash had been. The TV broadcast that night refused to show the crash with Cummins clattering into a wall as he fell and suffered arm, leg and back injuries in the smash. Amazingly despite the crashes Cummins would be back at the TT and racing at the front again in future years.
With McGuinness out of the race and Martin and Cummins on their way to Nobles Hospital the path was now cleared for Hutchinson to wrap up his fifth win of the week. He would win comfortably from Farquhar and Anstey.
By the end of TT 2010 a new champion of the roads had been crowned. Hutchinson was the King of the Mountain and was about to go on a winning spree at the Ulster Grand Prix where he claimed a hat-trick. The Padgetts star had won at all of the major international meetings. His biggest battle was ahead of him however with the final round of the British Supersport Championship seeing him clash with another rider in wet conditions and badly fracture his foot. With amputation a possibility the biggest battle of Hutchy’s career was ahead of him.