Morecambe Missile John McGuinness has won his first Classic TT after triumphing in the Bennetts Senior Classic TT race on the Isle of Man.
The 23-time TT winner, riding the Team Winfield Paton, had been forced to retire in his three previous attempts but set a new lap record of 113.342mph and race record in the process on Saturday.
McGuinness and Dean Harrison, on the Black Eagle Racing MV Agusta, were separated by fractions of a second on the opening two laps before a decisive late pit strategy by Team Winfield eventually saw the Mountain Course great take the win by 20 seconds.
The 44-year-old said: “We’ve been trying hard for the last four years which have been really frustrating but we’ve got it now.
“ It was nip and tuck all the way with the young fella.
“I thought I might be able to get a lead and ease off but no chance.
“It’s been mega, I’ve really enjoyed it.
“I’ve had to really learn to ride the bike, keep the momentum. It’s like riding a 250 round here.”
McGuinness was first away at 11.30am for the first race of this year’s festival, soon establishing a lead of 1.5 seconds from his nearest rival Harrison, who won the corresponding race in 2015, with Maria Costello tucking into third a further seven seconds further back.
The resort racer set a new lap record for the class on the opening lap 112.043 (20:12.289), which he held for less than a minute with Harrison clocking 112.077 (20:11.094), giving the Bradford rider a lead of 0.366 seconds.
Costello held third place with her opening lap of 107.499 (21:03.530) but was already more than 50 seconds behind the leading pair.
That remained the top three at the end of the second lap, but with Harrison having opened up a lead of over a second earlier in the lap, McGuinness ate into the lead and set a new lap record of 113.342mph (19:58.394) for the class.
With Harrison slowing down coming into the pits, posting a second lap of 112.830/ 20:03.826, McGuinness established a lead of five seconds at the Grandstand at the end of the second lap with Costello third with her second lap of 107.846/ 20:59.462.
Harrison’s pit of 46.973 seconds put the Yorkshire rider almost a minute behind McGuinness at Glen Helen on the third lap.
McGuinness came into the pits at the end of the third lap, with a ‘splash and dash’ stop of 40.218 seconds which meant that his lead over Harrison was down to just over 20 seconds at Ballaugh on the last lap once the pit stops had unravelled.
However, the Morecambe rider maintained the gap with a last lap 108.196/ 20:55.385 to win his first Classic TT Race title by 21 seconds in a new race record of 111.559mph/ 1:21.10.189/ from Harrison (111.070/ 1:21.31.627) as Costello took third.