The 2019 Isle of Man TT has seen Dean Harrison claim Kawasaki’s first Senior TT win since 1975. This is only the second ever win for Kawasaki in the premier event at the TT, and at 30-years-old Harrison is also one of the youngest riders ever to win the Senior TT. We had a front row seat for the chat with Harrison immediately after he claimed victory in Friday’s Senior TT.
“The race I got off to a reasonable start, Pete had a bit of the legs on me to be honest. I just tried to put as much pressure on him as I could, as the race went on he was chipping away from me, and the gap was getting bigger, it wasn’t until lap 4 or lap 5 that I noticed the gap had halved. So I thought… well the thing is when the gap halves, I’m not sure if there was a problem, as if someone breaks down there’s a big gap, and it keeps coming down and down and down.
“So I just kept it going to be honest, I was short shifting everywhere, trying to conserve fuel for my last lap. Six laps around this place, 226 miles (over 360 km) on the bike, and two hours, it’s the longest race you’ll ever do as a solo rider. It’s a testament to the bike to keep going for so long, the hammering it gets from me is unbelievable.”
When you saw the early boards you must have thought he was getting away from you, growing sector by sector.
Dean Harrison: “Yeah exactly, I was going as hard as I felt comfortable going, I thought I’d push and that would be my best, in those first few laps, and I think I did a sub 17 on lap one, a 16:50 something.
“The trouble is now you’re kind of splitting hairs around here, aren’t we it’s getting so fine. I just tried to put on as much pressure as I could. It sounds daft but if you take a step back and relax you end up making a mistake, if I keep going at the pace I’m going and pushing, you sorta get into a rhythm and sorta hit your points at the apex.
“But the bike to be fair was absolutely faultless, never missed a beat the whole race. Apart from a little tank surging issue, that we went through, that showed up a little bit to be honest, at the latter part of the second lap, the pit laps. But apart from that it was faultless. Massive thanks to the team.”
For the second pit stop the lead was about 17-seconds, half of which Peter had built up just on the climb to the mount, taking about eight-seconds out of your lap.
Dean Harrison: “That’s my Achilles heel, on the lower section I seem to have it nailed, it’s the climb up the mounts that I need to do some more research on over the winter, we’ve got to do some more short circuits scratching, the faster I get at short circuits the faster I seem to go up the mountain. So I need to come back and do a bit of that here later in the year. Hat’s off to Pete, he has won three TT’s this week and it just proves I’m competitive to get onto the podium.”
And with the top brass from Kawasaki here, we think it’s the first Senior TT for the marque since 1975…
Dean Harrison: “I think it was Mick Grant that won that… Brilliant yea, to give the Kawasaki superbike a win since 1975, Jesus Christ… 44 years ago, a few years ago, no brilliant to be fair.”
What was your thought when you suddenly saw a board which said P1?
Dean Harrison: “I knew there was something wrong when the lead had halved, obviously he’s having issues here, once I got P1 the lead just went from P1 plus 8s to P1 plus 30s and on the mountain I thought I got to short shift a bit.
“It’s hard to concentrate when that happens, when you’re in a battle with someone and it’s so close, but when something goes wrong with another competitor that you get such a big lead, it’s easy to have a lapse in concentration, so you really have to keep your mind in focus, on what you’re doing and what’s coming up, keeping the bike in the right rev range, as problems can occur around here. So I kept my head down and brought it home.”
How would you sum up your TT overall, three podiums and a win?
Dean Harrison: “It’s absolutely brilliant, every class is so competitive now, I lost my way a little bit though mid-week, with the weather the way it’s been, I sorta lost a bit of momentum, I started real strong, and then my head went a little bit almost, and then it took a little bit to get me back into it.
“Yesterday with all the races I got back into the swing of things, and it’s great to get a win, where it’s six laps, two pit stops, it’s not a shortened race. The race yesterday, I take my hat off to Gary Thompson for the races we got in yesterday, as it was such a tight schedule and yesterday went absolutely seamless. It’s great to get it done for all the spectators, as the crowd around the track is absolutely massive, it’s great to see so much enthusiasm, with people waving over the fences, and sitting on the hedges.”
Your bike worked flawlessly…
Dean Harrison: “Yea exactly, it’s a testament to the bike and the team to be fair. The bike never missed a beat the whole race. With the new bike, even we’ve got a new bik this year 2019 ZX-10RR and obviously cosmetically it looks very similar to the old bike, but engine wise it’s not, but the characteristics are quite different. And it took me quite a bit of getting used to. In the stock race, I had a few problems in the NW200 and sort of dialed that out for when we got here, and the Superbike is the same thing, it’s just a matter of time.”
You’ve won TT races before, but to win the Senior TT that must be really special?
Dean Harrison: “Everyone says it’s the biggest race of the fortnight, and me and Pete were saying last year that the Superbike and the Senior are very similar, since it’s the same bike, but for some reason the Senior is the blue ribbon race, but it’s great to get my hands on the trophy to be honest, and to go down as one of the names in history. I’m over the moon.”