Morecambe Missile John McGuinness had to settle for seventh in the opening race of the 2014 Isle of Man TT on Saturday.
The 20-time winner on the Mountain Course was unable to run at full pace for the full six laps of the Dainese Superbike race as the Honda Rider continues his recovery from a broken wrist.
Michael Dunlop took his eighth TT victory in Saturday’s race, winning by 20.5 seconds from Guy Martin (Tyco Suzuki) with Conor Cummins (Honda Racing) in third.
James Hillier was quickest to Glen Helen on the opening lap on his Quattro Plant/Muc-Off Kawasaki and he led Dunlop by one second with Martin, a rapid starting Dean Harrison (RC Express Racing Kawasaki), Gary Johnson (Lincs Lifting Honda) and Dan Kneen (Cookstown BE Racing Suzuki) close behind.
As the lap unfolded though, it was clear Dunlop was charging and having overhauled Hillier at Ballaugh, he increased his lead all round the opening 37 and ¾ miles and with a new lap record of 131.730mph, he rocketed clear with Martin 9.4s in arrears.
The leaderboard was constantly changing and Cummins moved up into third with Hillier, Harrison and McGuinness completing the top six with Johnson reported retired at Creg ny Baa.
Dunlop was in determined mood and was closing in on Martin, who had started 20 seconds ahead of him on the road, the gap between the duo after two laps almost 17 seconds as the Ballymoney man went quicker still at 131.890mph.
The Tyco Suzuki rider was six seconds clear of Cummins as they took their first pit stop with Michael Rutter up to fourth on the Bathams BMW.
Dunlop, Martin, McGuinness and Hillier were circulating in close formation on the roads but Dunlop’s lead was increasing and he was first into the pits at the end of lap four, the gap to Martin now a very healthy looking 25s after another 130mph plus lap. Martin was coming under pressure from Cummins though with his advantage now under five seconds for the first time while Rutter was still in fourth with McGuinness and William Dunlop completing the top six.
As the race went into its final third, Dunlop and Martin were still together on the roads and the 25-year-old rode to his signals to control the race for his eighth victory and BMW’s first ‘big bike’ win since German Georg Meier won the 1939 Senior TT.
Martin took his 14th podium in second with Cummins three seconds further back after doing his all on the final lap.
Bruce Anstey really put the hammer down after his early race mishap and his lap of 132.298mph was some six seconds quicker than McGuinness’ lap set in the same race last year.
Rutter ensured it was a good day for BMW with a strong fifth with William Dunlop making a late charge to overhaul McGuinness on the final lap, the gap between the pair just 0.8s after six hard laps.
Racing was set to continue on Monday with the first Supersport race at 10.45am followed by a four-lap Superstock run at 2pm.
The day’s schedule has been delayed however due to rain and mist on the island.