Michael Dunlop, who won four races at this year’s TT Races, produced a sensational pair of laps in the first timed session in the inaugural Classic TT Races presented by Bennetts. The Ballymoney man clocked 119.511mph, then pulled into the pits to make some adjustments. He went out again, on a machine that he said was not yet was not ideally set up, to record the first 120mph classic lap with a blistering 120.894mph (18:43.52) on his Team Classic Suzuki XR69. He was rapid through Ramsey, where his usual method of backing into the town square provided a talking point for the enthusiasts gathered to watch the action. The practice session provided great entertainment with so many riders and an eclectic mix of machinery; both classic and modern on the circuit.
Conditions were reported as dry all round but with high winds on the mountain. There was no problem with the sun on the run to Ballacraine, or up the mountain; but very poor light under the tree-lined sections was problematic: some serious limbing of trees is urgently required after 20 years of benign neglect. Race fans around the course were treated to the stunning sight and evocative sound of Italian pipe music provided by the Patons of Olie Linsdell and John McGuinness. They were first away in the session and provided some wonderful high speed formation flying ahead of Saturday’s Bennett’s 500cc Race.
However, TT and Classic TT rider liaison officer John Barton, who set off ten seconds behind the pair, was first to reach Ramsey and was first back to the Grandstand on the Kawasaki ZXR that he will campaign in Monday’s Motorsport Merchandise Formula 1 Race, he lapped at 113.112mph (20:00.82).
Linsdell (111.285mph) and McGuinness (111.193) were both approximately 20 seconds back on Barton on the opening lap with Linsdell’s time the fastest 500cc lap of the evening. Kiwi Bruce Anstey, riding the McIntosh Racing/Mobil 1 Norton, was third fastest in the 500cc class (106.066) marginally ahead of Australian Cameron Donald, who posted 105.949 on his second lap on the Ripley Land Racing Matchless G50. These two lapped together, with Donald ahead on the road at Ramsey.
Mick Godfrey, riding a Ducati 888 Corsa went marginally quicker than Barton on his second lap with the fastest lap of the dedicated Classic session at 113.215mph (19:59.76). However Dunlop’s laps in the Manx Grand Prix session, with Formula 1 machines allowed out with the modern machines, were notably quicker. Conor Cummins also took advantage of the opportunity to take his Team Classic Suzuki Formula 1 machine out in the later session clocking an impressive 113.123mph.
Other notable laps in the Formula 1 Classic session included Nick Jefferies’ 108.844 – 20:47.91 – on his Honda RC30- his first timed lap since the 2002 TT Races finishing marginally behind fastest American at the TT, Mark Miller (108.952mph) representing the Yamaha Classic Racing Team on an FZ750 OU45. Jamie Coward (116.549mph), Steve Mercer (115.856mph), Paul Owen (113.705mph), and Gary Johnson (109.850mph) also went out on their Formula 1 machines in the later MGP session and posted fast times to signal their intent.
In the Formula 2 Class Chris Moore on the Yamaha TZ250 was the quickest with a 106.124mph lap, ahead of James Cowton’s 105.574mph. It is only Cowton’s second year at the event so he we can expect him to continue to improve through the week. In the Formula Classic, former Senior NGP winner, Mark Parrett topped the board with 104.586mph from Gavin Lupton, riding a 1971 Triumph Trident, with 100.280mph. Chris McGahan and late entry Dean Harrison, who achieved his first podium at this year’s TT in the Lightweight Race and his first S100 win, posted the third and fourth fastest times of the class respectively.
In the Okells’ 350cc Class experienced campaigner Chris Palmer was quickest on the night on the Drixton Honda (100.495mph) while another former British 125cc Champion Dan Cooper was also up to speed on the Molnar Manx Norton (97.831mph). In the 250cc class regular duellists Peter Symes and Dave Edwards topped the board with the pair posting the four fastest times between them.
2010 Junior MGP race winner Michael Sweeney signalled his intent with the fastest lap of the first timed Manx Grand Prix qualifying sessions. The Skerries man, one of the top ten seeds in the new qualifying system, posted an impressive 116.299mph (19:27.91) on his R6 Yamaha to top the Junior leaderboard from Stephen Harper (114.279mph).
James Cowton, who finished fourth in last year’s Junior MGP and won the Newcomers C race, showed he will again be a contender in the Junior Race on Wednesday week with the third fastest time of the night (113.797mph) with Stephen McKnight also posting a lap in excess of 113mph.
Sweeney later switched onto his ER 650 Kawasaki and posted the fastest lap of the SuperTwin session with 110.238mph (20:32.12) although 1993 Formula 1 TT race winner Nick Jefferies, who also won the 1983 Senior Manx Grand Prix clocked a notable 107.278mph (21:06.12) on his first timed session on the Mountain Course since 2002; not bad for a man of 60.
Local riders topped the charts in the Lightweight session, Dave Taylor leading with a lap of 104.087mph (21:44.95) from Dave Corlett (103.065mph) and Anthony Redmond (102.522mph). This race has the promise to be the most keenly contested of the meeting.
An impressive group of newcomers posted their first 100mph plus laps led by Neil Lyons from Drumree in Northern Ireland. Marc Livesey, Jason Corcoran, Christopher Dixon, Richard McLoughlin and Anthony Cooper all showed early promise ahead of the Newcomers A race scheduled for Wednesday 28th August, posting laps in excess of 105mph. Callum Collister (103.599mph) topped the Newcomers B Race with Ben Rea (98.077) the fastest in the Newcomers C class.