BMW Motorrad Motorsport
Isle of Man, 17/06/2015, BMW Road Race Challenge
For one week each year, motorcycle fans around the world turn their attention to a small island between Great Britain and Ireland: the Isle of Man and its legendary Tourist Trophy. The Isle of Man TT (IOMTT) was first held in 1907 and is the biggest international road racing event. This year, BMW was represented on the podium by privateers Michael Dunlop and Lee Johnston. Furthermore, Guy Martin also set a new sector record. In total, the BMW Motorrad riders contested three races: the Superbike TT, the Superstock TT and the Senior TT, which traditionally brings the race week to an end. Join us as we look back at the events of this year’s Isle of Man TT.
The strong contingent of BMW Motorrad privateers at the 2015 Isle of Man TT was spearheaded by some of the most famous and successful riders on the international road racing scene. The Tyco BMW team raced with William Dunlop, the nephew of record IOMTT winner Joey Dunlop, and Guy Martin. William’s brother Michael Dunlop, who won a historic triple for BMW last year, decided shortly before the start of the event to compete on the RR again – as he believed this bike would offer him the greatest chance of success. He started the Superbike TT and the Senior TT for the Buildbase BMW team, who provided him with the spare bike usually entered for Ryuichi Kiyonari in the British Superbike Championship (BSB). In the Superstock TT, the eleven-time TT winner rode the BMW S 1000 RR, with which he won in 2014.
Among the other BMW riders in the field were Lee Johnston (ECR / Burdens), who had won at the International North West 200 during preparations for the IOMTT, four-time TT winner Michael Rutter (Penz13.com Bathams), Peter Hickman (Briggs Equipment UK BMW), David Johnson (Smiths Racing) and Martin Jessopp (Riders Motorcycles BMW). They were all looked after on-site by the experts from BMW Motorrad Motorsport. Their results also earned them points towards the BMW Motorrad Race Trophy: the IOMTT forms part of the new BMW Combined Road Race Challenge (BMW RRC), which is made up of the four biggest road racing events of the year.
The riders had to show a bit of patience before they could finally get to grips with the 60-kilometre “Mountain Circuit”. Heavy rain and the fact that the rescue helicopter was unable to take off due to strong gusts of wind meant delays to the schedule at the start of the IOMTT. The first race for the BMW Motorrad privateers, the Superbike TT, began one day late.
Michael Dunlop called upon his wealth of TT experience. He had just two practice laps, with which to familiarise himself with the Buildbase BMW S 1000 RR. However, he consistently fought his way through the field in the race. Although he lost time during a pit stop, he found himself third going into the second half of the race and set his sights on second place. On the final lap, Dunlop was flying and looked set to break the lap record until he collided with a backmarker and crashed out.
“I’m okay really. I am a bit stiff and everything hurts, but apart from that I’m okay,” said Dunlop afterwards. “We were very close to the leaders at the end of the race. We lost a bit of time in the pit lane, otherwise we could have won. The bike is very good.”
The best-placed BMW rider in the Superbike TT was his brother William Dunlop, who finished fifth on the Tyco BMW S 1000 RR. Michael Rutter was sixth – the best IOMTT result so far for Penz13.com. Peter Hickman, Lee Johnston and David Johnson occupied places eight to ten. Guy Martin, one of the favourites to win the race, suffered an early set-back: he was forced to retire with electrical problems after just a few kilometres.
William Dunlop’s IOMTT came to a premature end the following day: he crashed in practice for the Superstock TT, suffering a broken rib and severe bruising. Michael Dunlop, who was riding just behind William, stopped immediately at the scene of the crash to look after his injured brother.
The unsettled weather meant the Superstock race also had to be delayed by a day. Michael Dunlop competed with his own MD Racing team and the 2014 Superstock version of the RR, with which he won the race last year. In practice he was by far the fastest man out there, and also set the pace in the race, almost setting a new lap record on the opening lap. Dunlop led the field, with Guy Martin in third place, just a few seconds behind and within striking distance.
However, the second half of the race saw Dunlop struggle with the after-effects of his crash in the Superbike race. The bruising was still painful and he was unable to maintain his fast rhythm. He gritted his teeth and still came home second to claim a place on the podium. Meanwhile, Lee Johnston made great progress through the field and eventually crossed the finish line third to earn his first podium at the IOMTT.
Peter Hickmann was fifth, just ahead of David Johnson in sixth place. Guy Martin’s hopes of victory were dashed when he lost 35 seconds during a pit stop. The battery on his bike overheated, meaning he was unable to restart the bike after the stop. This caused him to lose several positions, eventually coming home seventh. “I had a good start and the bike seemed to be flying. It was awesome. To do a lap at an average speed of 130 mph from a standing start is very impressive on a Superbike, let alone on a Superstock bike. The second lap was not a lot slower. Anything was possible today, but what can you do. That is just really unlucky,” said Martin after the race. Michael Rutter finished 11th. He was primarily using the Superstock race as a practice for the Senior TT.
As is tradition, the Isle of Man TT drew to a close with the Senior TT – and, as every year, there was much excitement and speculation as to who would lift the prestigious trophy this year. At the start of the race, a group of five riders – including Michael Dunlop and Guy Martin – managed to pull clear of the rest of the field. However, the race had to be suspended after two laps following a crash.
After a break, the Senior TT restarted – reduced to just four laps. Dunlop found himself in sixth place, while Martin dropped back to 13th following a poor start. However, the fans’ favourite launched an impressive fightback on the Tyco BMW. Martin set an average speed of 132.398 mph on the second lap. At this point, this was the second-fastest lap ever on the Isle of Man. Only the eventual winner John McGuinness went faster, setting a new lap record of 132.701 mph. Martin also set a new record for the final sector, from “Ramsey” to the start/finish line. This was enough to see him climb into fourth place, and he eventually crossed the finish line in this position.
Meanwhile, Dunlop had dropped back to eighth place. However, he upped his pace again on the final lap and clocked an average speed of 132.515 mph to climb into fifth place. Martin and Dunlop can now take their places among a group of just five riders in the select “132 mph Club“, for riders who have exceeded the magical mark of 132 miles per hour (average) for one lap. Peter Hickman was seventh, while David Johnson and Michael Rutter completed the top ten in ninth and tenth respectively.