Gary Johnson thrilled spectators to win the Supersport TT Isle of Man by the slimmest of margins. Johnson claimed victory over rival Bruce Anstey by 1.5 seconds, after four grueling laps of the 60.73 kilometre town and mountain course.
Both men left the field in their wake with Michael Dunlop streaking home third, 11.68 seconds behind the winner and Dean Harrison and William Dunlop claiming fourth and fifth places.
Johnson carved out a slight lead from the start. He claimed the fastest lap of the race; leading into the pits by 2.4 seconds, at the end of the second lap. A fast pit stop by Anstey’s Padgett Honda crew, though, shaved that time. And with new tyres Anstey clawed back at Johnson’s Triumph – narrowing the gap to 0.3 seconds by the time the two reached Glen Helen.
At the midway point of the third lap Johnson had fought away again to enjoy a 3.8 second lead. But as a light rain began to sprinkle over the mountain Anstey’s wet–weather riding skills saw him draw within three seconds of Johnson.
The two roared down the mountain together: Snaking down the slick narrow roads; dodging rock walls, streetlight lamp posts and each other. By the time they hit the flat there was nothing between them (0.011 seconds at Cronk ny Mona).
The desperation of each rider was evident as the two scorched through the final few miles: The graceful manoeuvring of high-powered machines had been replaced by a death-or-glory jousting match at over 200 kilometres an hour.
The two flashed across the finish line in one of the most hotly contested Isle of Man races ever held.
But the race was not without its tragedy. Veteran racer Bob Price was killed at Ballaugh. He is the first man claimed during this year’s TT series and the 241st claimed by the Isle of Man; arguably one of the most dangerous street racing circuits in the world.