2022 Isle of Man TT
By Ben McCook
Peter Hickman has won an action-packed Bennett’s Supertwin TT on the Martimotos Paton. Lee Johnston came home 2nd on his RS 660cc Aprilia, the best part of two-minutes back, with Paul Jordan claiming his first TT podium finish in 3rd after a fierce battle with French newcomer, Pierre Yves Bian. The victory secures another hat-trick for Hicky and means he has eight TT triumphs in total with two more races to go this week. He could yet equal Ian Hutchinson’s five timer of 2010.
While the results sheet will tell you that Hickman’s lead was 1m44s when he took the chequered flag, it won’t tell you just how hard he had to work for it. For just over 2 laps, Hickman and Michael Dunlop went toe-to-toe in what many will regard as one of the finest battles ever seen around the TT course. The lead swapped at almost every time check and there was never more than a second in it.
The race had been due to start at 1045 but the Isle of Man woke up this morning to wet roads and lying cloud on the mountain which caused a three-hour delay to the roads closure time, along with a rejigging of the programme. The race was eventually cut to 3 laps and was pencilled in to take place in the late afternoon after some practice laps. The fans perched in the hedgerows speculated about whether there would be any racing at all. But eventually, after 2 practice laps, the rebranded Supertwins TT (it had previously been the Lightweight TT) got under way at 3pm.
As the riders walked to their machines, Chris Kinley reported that Michael Dunlop ‘had the look’… and as he left the line his aggressive style was noted… the Ballymoney man would appear to have his ‘race face’ on.
By Glen Helen MD was 0.8s up on Hickman but the big Lincolnshire man was in front by Ballaugh. By Ramsey he still held the advantage but only by half a second. Jamie Coward (who Dunlop had beaten in 2019 by just over a second) was really struggling to stay in touch, such was the speed of the leaders. He was already 8.2s off the pace at the hairpin. As 1st and 2nd began to climb the mountain, they were both on 120 mph lap pace. The contest already had the feel of a real classic.
As on Monday it was compulsory to pit at the end of lap 1. Even riders who didn’t feel the need to refuel had to pause and put their foot down at the very least…
On the way into the pits, Dunlop lead by 0.6s but it was his rival who left with an advantage… a slim 0.4s.
Jamie Coward was riding hard to stay in touch but was struggling, now almost 17s back. On the 2nd lap his Kawasaki’s engine blew between the 11th and Handly’s. This meant Michael was now the leader on the road and ‘the bull’ made good use of the space. By Ballaugh he had clawed Hickman back and lead by 0.04 of a second! Incredible margins – Horst Saiger made the point on Manx Radio that this was the kind of advantage normally seen in MotoGP and not at the TT.
Coward’s retirement meant that Lee Johnston was promoted to 3rd on his standard Aprilia, almost 10 mph down on the Patons along the Sulby straight.
Hickman vs Dunlop was incessant, and the pair continued to joust in breath-taking fashion. At the Bungalow it was Dunlop, by the Grandstand it was Hickman… but the lead was never more than half a second. It was easy to forget that there was anyone else in the race, so enthralling was this clash of the Patons.
But alas, as the leaders headed towards Glen Helen for the 3rd and final time, Dunlop was reported as touring at Laurel Bank. The whole island let out a collective grown as the commentary team relayed the news; the road racing faithful had been robbed of a barn burning finale. Dunlop managed to get going again, but Hickman had already passed him and in the end the no. 6 was black flagged off the circuit.
Hickman had an incredible lead over Johnston, who in turn was comfortable in 2nd with a gap that stayed consistently around the 20s mark. However, there was yet more excitement as the focus turned to the battle for the final podium place.
Initially it was French newcomer, Pierre Yves Bian (Hickman’s teammate for the race) who inherited the position after Dunlop’s demise. But as the final lap developed it became clear that Paul Jordan was on the charge and was closing him down. Jordan took Bian for the first time at the Bungalow and from then was never headed. The Magherafelt man crossed the line with Dominic Herbertson in tow to record a landmark result in the Prez racing man’s career. It was a reversal of the North West 200 race when Bian had pipped Jordan for the win.
Jordan was ecstatic, and the result is a real change of fortune for him after being caught up in an early season crash at Cookstown and being struck in the face by a bird during practice last week. The pidgeon had ripped off his visor and he was still sporting a swollen face because of it. The result was all the sweeter for being achieved riding for a Manx team.
Peter Hickman had been due to ride a bespoke Norton at this year’s TT but changed in the last minute to ride for the North West 200 winning Martimotos Paton team. It proved to be an inspired choice.
Changes to the rules meant that bikes such as the RS 660 Aprilia could compete for the first time. However, most of the front-runners had gone for the tried and tested Patons and Kawasakis; the obvious exception being Lee Johnston on his Ashcourt racing machine.
Johnston had stated he would be delighted with a podium as he knew he was down on pace compared to the beautiful little green Patons. Lee indicated in parc ferme that he had predicted the Patons may experience reliability issues due to the level of tuning they had. Sadly for him, Hickman’s gone the distance.
Unfortunately, the infamous Manx weather took another turn around 5pm when rain and cloud came in once again and the 2nd Monster Energy Supersport race of the week was swiftly cancelled. It has been rescheduled for Thursday afternoon although the weather forecast indicates that there may also be issues tomorrow. Only time will tell.
2022 Isle of Man TT
Supertwin TT Results
- Peter Hickman – Paton S1-R
- Lee Johnston – Aprilia RS660 +1m49.281
- Paul Jordan – Kawasaki Z650 +23,256s
- Pierre Yves Bain – Paton S1-R +6.914s
- Michael Rutter – Paton S1-R +5.999s
- Rob Hodson – Kawasaki Z650 +1.603s
- James Hind – Paton S1-R +6.980s
- Dominic Herbertson – Kawasaki Z650 +8.732
- Michael Evans – Kawasaki ER-6 +34.501s
- Xaiver Denis – Kawasaki Z650 +27.000s