The 2016 Isle of Man TT (Tourist Trophy), the home of international road racing, delivered thrilling racing yet again for the millions of TT fans. But for BMW Motorrad enthusiasts, the 2016 IoM TT will be remembered for the way the S 1000 RR dominated with new lap and outright speed records and, more importantly, stunning race victories for the Double-R racers.
The S 1000 RR breaks records
Preliminary celebrations started in practice week before the main TT races, when two of the top teams running S 1000 RR machinery saw their riders shatter outright speed records and break lap times. Ian Hutchinson (Tyco BMW) and Michael Dunlop (BMW Hawk Racing) were in impressive form and made the most of practice week’s good weather. Dunlop was the first rider to crack a 132mph (212.4 km/h) lap, but it was Ian Hutchinson who grabbed the headlines on the final night of practice on 3 June.
During last practice, Hutchinson rode his Superstock RR to become the fastest ever rider to lap the present day IoM TT course with a stunning lap of 132.803mph. Unfortunately, for the Bingley Bullet – Hutchinson’s nickname; Bingley is his home town – even though he broke the existing Superstock and outright lap record, it wasn’t marked in the book of TT records because practice times and speeds do not count.
However, every BMW fan still had reason to smile because Hutchinson’s feat underlined just how superb the production S 1000 RR actually is. The Superstock racing bikes of Hutchinson, Dunlop and the other BMW riders are very limited in what chassis and performance modifications are allowed to a standard production bike. In truth it is very little; just enough to ensure the rider’s safety by having components that can deal with the abuse of 37.73 miles (60.72 km) of normal roads, for lap after lap. It would be fair to say that a customer’s S 1000 RR set up purely for track day use wouldn’t be too dissimilar to the race-going Superstock TT bikes.
RST Superbike TT
The first race of the 2016 IoM TT took place on Saturday 4 June with the RST Superbike TT. This race saw the grid filled with 1000cc race-specification machines all vying for the finishing line – the TT races are the toughest on motorcycles; every component in the engine or around the chassis is stressed way beyond normal road riding, so to finish a TT race is an exceptional result in itself.
All eyes were on Tyco BMW rider Hutchinson but the eventual winner of the Superbike TT was Irishman Michael Dunlop astride the BMW Hawk Racing S 1000 RR. To help take the win required a phenomenal first lap of 16:58.254sec – a record in itself for being the first ever lap of the TT course to be set in under 17 minutes. Such was the pace of the RR; Dunlop destroyed the existing lap record with an incredible lap speed figure of 133.393mph (214.67 km/h).
“How’s that for a figure when you consider the amount of rival manufacturers involved and all gunning for the win?”
Dunlop’s massive win wasn’t the only reason for celebrations in the Bavarian-brand’s quarters. Ian Hutchinson on his Tyco BMW RR finished runner-up with a similar level of determination. Indeed, it was a day to remember for all RR-mounted riders because the Superbike TT saw five RRs finish inside the top ten. And of the 49 race finishers, 21 of the motorcycles were S 1000 RR.
Quantum Superstock TT
The second race for 1000cc sports machinery came on Monday 6 June with the 4-lap RL360˚ Quantum Superstock TT – the racing class that Ian Hutchinson and his RR had promised would see a fast race after his phenomenal speed shown in practice week.
Right from the first lap Hutchinson set about taking the win with an astonishing record-breaking speed of 133.098mph (214.20 km/h), which also saw him and the Superstock RR come so very close to also dipping below the 17-minute lap with a superhuman time of 17:00.510sec. At first it looked like a titanic battle was about to ensue between Hutchinson and fellow RR rider Michael Dunlop, but unfortunately Dunlop was forced to retire after a problem with the gearchange lever on his aftermarket foot controls.
Even though Hutchinson decimated the opposition, he admitted that he’d actually backed off towards the end of the race to save his tyres. There was no truth to the rumour that his blistering speed caused the road surface to melt. It’s not often the TT has a slice of good luck with regards to the weather, but for the first two 1000cc races the conditions could only be described as near ideal despite the heat causing the road surface to bubble up in some sections.
Although Hutchinson and his RR took the flag, once again fellow BMW riders were following up in a very fast way. Old stager Michael Rutter continued his run of good form shown at the season starter NW200. Rutter and his Bathams SMT Racing RR came home in fourth place. Just behind Rutter was Gary Johnson and the RR of Team Penz13.com BMW Motorrad. The fourth RR inside the top ten finished in ninth place with rider David Johnson under the entry of Fleetwood Grab Services/4 Anjels.
The Big One
The final 2016 TT race for the 1000cc class took place on Friday 10 June. The PokerStars Senior TT is more commonly known as the “big one”. Although every race win at the TT is something special for the rider and the manufacturer of the winning machine, it is the Senior TT that holds even more meaning to all who take part.
With Hutchinson and Dunlop once again proving the BMW S 1000 RR is a force to be reckoned with, the crowd were expecting an exciting race at the front end – and they got it, even if the race was delayed for several hours due to fog and mist. During the gruelling 226.38 miles (364.32 km) race, Dunlop not only established a new outright lap record (133.962 mph) on his way to his 13th TT victory, but the Hawk Racing BMW rider also set a new race record time (01:43:56.129) for a six-lap race on the Mountain Course.
The Ulsterman, whose record-setting best lap of 16:53.929 was nearly five seconds quicker than his previous best in Saturday’s Superbike race (and 10 seconds quicker than the previous fastest ever TT race lap). He was followed home by fellow BMW rider Hutchinson, with last year’s Senior TT winner John McGuinness rounding out the rostrum in third place. There were two more BMW S 1000 RR riders in the top 10 with Michael Rutter and Lee Johnston finishing in seventh and eighth place respectively, with a total of six BMW riders in the top 16.
Having totally dominated on their S 1000 RRs throughout the week, with victories in the Superbike, Superstock and Senior TTs, the question on everybody’s lips now is who will be the first ever BMW rider to set a magic 134mph lap? Unfortunately, we’ll have to wait almost a year until TT fortnight returns to find out…