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Johnson joins TT roll of honour amidst red flag drama in Supersport 2

Thu, 09 Jun 2011

Gary Johnson on the final lap, riding to victory
Gary Johnson on the final lap, riding to victory

Gary Johnson lived up to the promise he’d shown right from the start of practice week to win his first TT with a dominant display in the Supersport 2 race, delayed from Wednesday.

The Yorkshireman was fastest out of the blocks, leading John McGuinness’s Padgetts Honda by 3.28 seconds at Glen Helen, doubling that to 6.43 at Ballaugh, then 9.1 at Ramsey, where TAS Suzuki’s Guy Martin overhauled Padgetts Bruce Anstey to move into second spot.

Michael Dunlop’s luck from Wednesday’s halted race didn’t hold, retiring his Yamaha at Ballacraine on the opening lap, just seven miles into the race, after reportedly missing a gear leaving the startline.

The chasing pack responded over the mountain, pegging Johnson’s lead at 9 .7 seconds, with McGuinness leading  positions two to eight separated by just another ten seconds, for Martin, Cameron Donald, who’d got ahead of Anstey, then Dan Kneen’s Yamaha, Wilson Craig’s William Dunlop and KBMG Honda’s Keith Amor, racing despite his spill in Union Mills yesterday.

Anstey continued to lose places as local man Dan Kneen moved up to fifth by Ballaugh on lap two and as the re-fuelling halts beckoned at mid-distance Johnson’s lead improved to 15 seconds.

The stops looked drama-free and it emerged that Gary Johnson’s East Coast Honda team did best, pitting a second quicker than second placed McGuinness, though Martin’s TAS team were quickest of all, 49.337 seconds for the stop.

While the leader was in the pits, there was news of a red flag being displayed at the Ramsey Hairpin, and confusion briefly abounded as race control confirmed that the race continued, and the flag was subsequently withdrawn and stopped riders allowed to continue.

Donald got right on the pace on lap three to grab second spot from McGuinness by Ramsey, as Johnson’s lead was maintained at 16 seconds.

The Aussie set about catching the race leader on his world supersport-engined Wilson Craig Honda, slashing a huge six seconds out of the advantage by the end of lap three, Johnson starting the final tour 10.94 seconds down. McGuinnes was eight up on Martin in third, with Kneen fifth and Anstey sixth.

Johnson responded on the opening portion of the final lap, maintaining his ten second lead, as Kneen’s great ride ended in retirement at Ramsey.

There was drama right at the end of the race s Donald lost time coming down the mountain and didn’t make Governors Bridge, fuel problems thought to have halted the Honda after the flying effort.

It left McGuinness and Martin to fill out the podium, Guy reckoning he’d seen a red flag at Union Mills on lap three and backed off for three miles, possibly marshals reacting to the news of a flag in Ramsey.

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