Last updated: July 7th, 2023
RST at the Isle of Man TT
The Isle of Man TT is one of the most exhilarating motorcycle races in on the globe. For 2 weeks each year the island becomes the mecca of the motorcycling world. This year RST spent 12 days out on the island, and it was one of the best year's ever.
Wanting to immerse ourselves with the TT atmosphere as always, we headed to the island on the Wednesday of practice week, getting up-to speed with the on-goings and storylines ahead of race week.
As always, the weather was the talk of the island, it was baking hot for the duration of practice week! This is very much the exception to the rule in recent years and played a crucial role in the time's the riders were able to set during the week. For race week it became a question of would the skies remain clear and cooperative, to provide optimal racing conditions? Or would the notorious Isle of Man weather add an unpredictable element to the mix?
The Dunlop, Hickman and Harrison trifecta were the favourites for the podium spots and practice week showed why. All three went well.
Returns for promising upstarts and seasoned vets made for a compelling mix of storylines, riders like Davey Todd, Jamie Coward and Mike Browne, up against John McGuinness, Conor Cummins and Micheal Rutter (on his Honda RC213v no less) made things intriguing looking for riders to push for the top-3.
With these compelling storylines intertwining, the stage was set for an unforgettable week of racing. We couldn't wait to witness the unfolding drama, the triumphs, the upsets, and the sheer adrenaline-pumping action that only the Isle of Man TT can provide.
This practice week threw up some captivating subplots;
The main question on everyone's mind was whether anyone could challenge the longstanding dominance of Micheal Dunlop and Peter Hickman, two men with more than 30 TT wins combined, entering the 2023 IOMTT.
Practice week only to pointed to one outcome, and that was a Dunlop shaped one, as Micheal looked increasingly impressive as the week went on. He peaked during Friday's session, with an unofficial lap record 135.531mph on his Hawk Racing Honda.
Friday also saw the news that RST Factory Rider Conor Cummins would unfortunately be missing at least some part of the racing as he had been admitted to hospital due to illness, thus leaving Jamie Coward as our main podium-contender for the RST Superbike race on Sunday.
In the 3-wheeling world of sidecars, all eyes were fixed on the Birchall Brothers, who set out to achieve a groundbreaking feat: becoming the first duo in history to surpass the elusive 120mph lap record on the renowned mountain course. Practice week showed signs of it being possible, and with the first sidecar race on the opening Saturday we wouldn't have to wait long to find out.
Elsewhere, Jamie Coward and Dom Herbertson whom we had caught up with pre-TT as part of our Attention Paddock series, both headed into the 2023 TT looking to improve their respective results from last years event. You can view the full series here.
Race Day One
Race week roared to life on Saturday, 3rd June, with the Supersport TT Race 1 and the thrilling first Sidecar TT race 1. It was a day brimming with fierce competition and standout performances.
In the Supersport TT Race 1, the formidable trio of Dunlop, Harrison and Hickman showcased their pedigree. Dean Harrison pushed his Yamaha R6 to a solid 3rd place finish, crossing the finish line more than 40 seconds ahead of Jamie Coward, who secured a respectable 4th place. Harrison narrowly missed out on 2nd to Peter Hickman who clinch it by a razor-thin margin of less than a second. However, stealing the limelight was the remarkable performance of Micheal Dunlop, who left his rivals in his wake, finishing more than 12 seconds ahead of the nearest competitor. It was a statement of intent from Dunlop, setting the bar high for the remainder of race week.
The Sidecar TT Race 1 was nothing short of extraordinary! The Birchall brothers once again showcased their incredible skills and secured yet another impressive TT win, adding to their already remarkable collection of victories. But, this race was about more than just the win itself. What truly stole the show was the record-breaking lap accomplished by the Birchalls.
With a mind-blowing speed of 120.357mph, they etched their names in the history books as the first-ever sidecar duo to shatter the coveted 120mph barrier. It was a moment that sent a message to the rest of the paddock and solidified the Birchalls' reign of dominance.
The Birchalls pushed the limits and achieved something truly remarkable, cementing their status as trailblazers in the world of sidecar racing. It's moments like these that make the TT so special. It's not just about the wins; it's about the groundbreaking achievements, the records shattered, and the unwavering passion that drives these exceptional athletes. The Birchall brothers have certainly added another layer to their aura of dominance, and their remarkable feat will be remembered for years to come.
Race Day Two
Sunday saw only one race, the RST Superbike TT Race. Obviously, as the official safety partner for the TT and sponsoring the race, this is a pretty big deal for us. Therefore, to see such amazing racing was incredible.
Our RST factory riders truly rocked the track, with an impressive five of them securing top 20 finishes. Jamie Coward stole the show with a fantastic 5th place, while Dom Herbertson made history by hitting his first-ever 130mph lap. Talk about pushing the limits!
At the front, it was a familiar story as the podium places were contested by Dunlop, Harrison and Hickman. The final race results read with Micheal Dunlop's name atop the finishers again, and with a healthy 9 seconds gap to Peter Hickman, with Dean Harrison a further 9 seconds behind. In reality though, this race was all about Micheal Dunlop - leading at one stage by more than 25 seconds, it was a true masterclass in race management.
This race was a true spectacle, demonstrating the sheer skill, strategy, and passion that make the TT so electrifying. As the official safety partner, we couldn't have been prouder to witness such an epic display of talent and fierce competition. It's moments like these that make us love the TT even more.
Race Day Three
The atmosphere took a somber turn on the third race day, as the once bright sunshine that had graced the island for the past week and a half gave way to gloomier weather. This change caused a delay of over 3 hours before the races could finally commence. Despite the setback, the anticipation was palpable as we geared up for the Superstock TT Race 1 and the thrilling first Supertwin race of the event.
In the Superstock race, the familiar faces of Peter Hickman, Micheal Dunlop, and Dean Harrison once again stole the spotlight. Hickman delivered a spectacular performance, securing the victory with an impressive 23-second lead over Dunlop. Not far behind, Harrison claimed the third spot, trailing by an additional 15 seconds. It was a podium dominated by these three exceptional riders.
The Superstock race also marked the triumphant return of Conor Cummins, our very own RST factory rider. Just days earlier, Conor had found himself in the hospital, hooked up to a drip. Yet, defying all odds, he made a remarkable recovery and was back on the track, tackling the challenging mountain course. His sheer determination and resilience were nothing short of extraordinary.
The second race of the day was the Supertwin TT Race 1, and although there was a familiar face on the top spot of the podium, as Michael Dunlop took another victory, he was joined on the podium by Mike Browne and RST's own Jamie Coward, who brought his KTS Racing Kawasaki back in an impressive 3rd place. Congrats to Jamie on this fantastic result, part of what turned out to be a very good race week for the Hebden Bridge rider.
Sadly the day also brought the first fatality of this year's event as the racing world lost Raul Torres Martinez on the final lap of the Supertwin TT Race. All at RST would like to send our thoughts, wishes and prayers to Raul's friends and family. RIP Raul.
Race Day Four
The fourth day got underway on Wednesday, with the second sidecar race leading us off. It was a second outing of the week for the Birchall brothers as they looked to improve on their incredible 120mph lap from Saturday's race. This time though, they had some serious competition - the duo of Peter Founds & Jevan Walmsley clearly had the bit between the teeth as they pushed the Birchalls all the way to the end of the race. By the time it had finished, 2 of the 3 podium duos had achieved 120mph laps (including the Birchalls breaking their own record from Saturday) and RST racing duo the Crowes had rounded out the podium spots.
In the 2nd race of the day it was the turn of the Supersport TT Race 2. Following his dominant display in the first supersport race, Michael Dunlop was looking to take another TT victory on-board his Yamaha R6 and despite the best efforts of Peter Hickman and Dean Harrison, it was indeed another victory for the northern-irishman. Not only did Dunlop take the victory, but he also became the first man to ever record a 130mph lap round the TT circuit on a supersport bike.
It was also, yet another top-3 lock out for the Dunlop, Harrison, Hickman trio. Proving once more that they are just that little bit beyond their peers.
The race saw a strong showing from a number of RST riders, another 5th from Coward, and an impressive 7th place finish from Paul Jordan, his best place finish at this year's event.
Race Day Five
Friday got underway with the 2nd Superstock TT race of the week, and another head-to-head between Peter Hickman and Michael Dunlop. The pair had shared the podium throughout the week, with Dunlop edging Hickman in race wins come Friday. This was Hickman's last chance on a big bike to shift some momentum in his direction prior to the finale of the Senior TT race on Saturday. He made no mistake in grabbing it!
Hickman proceeded to deliver the fastest lap ever recorded round the mountain circuit, with a stunning 136.358mph lap on a stocker.
This was on-route to finishing 17 seconds ahead of Dunlop and a further 41 seconds clear of Dean Harrison.
Strong displays from RST riders included a 4th place finish from Conor Cummins, 6th place from Jamie Coward and 9th spot for Dom Herbertson.
In Friday's 2nd race, the week's second Supertwin TT race - the story again came down to Dunlop vs Hicky. With the taste of defeat still lingering from the Superstock race, Dunlop set off at a blistering pace down Bray Hill and within a lap looked to be on his way to victory, until his Paton S1-R had other ideas, breaking down on the mountain section of the course, leaving him stranded, watching Hickman pick up the pieces and his 3rd victory at the 2023 Isle of Man TT races.
The race looked like it was going to be an exceptional one for RST as Dom Herbertson and Pierre Yves Bian headed into the final lap of the race in 2nd and 3rd position respectively. However, unfortunately with a little over 5 minutes of the lap to go Dom's bike let him down and he was forced to retire from the race, costing him his first-ever podium on the island.
Dom's bad-luck was to Pierre's gain though, as he brought his Paton S1-R back to take 2nd place, his first-ever TT podium and RST's best placed finish at the event.
Race Day SIX
After nearly 2 weeks of racing round the island, one of the best TT's ever had reached it's final race, the Senior TT!
Everything that had gone before suggested we were in for one of the best races the island had ever seen, a colossal battle between two of the islands all-time greats. Peter Hickman, a 12-time TT winner, who had already won 3 of the 7 races at this years event and Michael Dunlop, a 25-time TT winner (4 this year), aiming to join his uncle Joey as the most successful TT rider of all time.
The stage was set and the tension pre-race was palpable.
In all honesty though, the race itself was somewhat of a busted-flush. It had all the makings to one of the greatest-ever, the island had seen beautiful weather throughout the fortnight, we had been treated to record-breaking performances throughout race-week and both Hickman and Dunlop seemed primed.
Unfortunately, it wasn't meant to be. In the end, Michael admitted he had made some errors with the setup of the bike and Peter stormed round to win his 13 TT race - Dean Harrison was even able to get in between the pair for the first time this year.
Again it was the 3 favourites on the podium (albeit, a slight change in the order of things).
RST's TT ended with a pretty heroic 4th place from Manxman Conor Cummins (given what he had been through during the fortnight), an 8th place finish for Davo Johnson who had lead them off as No.1 seed, and a solid 10th place for Rob Hodson.
Ok, we didn't get the finale that all road-racing fans dream of - but we still witnessed one of the greatest Isle of Man TT ever. Glorious sunshine throughout, records broken almost every race and an opportunity to watch some of the islands greatest-ever riders live. Roll on next year!