The weather was again the winner at TT 2017 as Wednesday’s practice session was reduced to just one timed lap as the feared lowering of the cloud base duly occurred. The sun was still shining in Ramsey as the first bikes reached the town; but to the south the dark foreboding clouds were building up over the mountain and it was not long before rain could be seen sweeping across the section from Gooseneck to Mountain Box.
The original intention of Clerk of the Course Gary Thompson, anticipating the deteriorating conditions, was to run additional laps at full speed to Ramsey before red flagging the riders and escorting them over the Mountain but low mist even curtailed that attempt to establish qualifying laps and give the riders time on the track. We were treated to the sight of the bikes forming a queue at Ramsey Bus Station as they waited to be led over the mountain by course cars and the Travelling Marshals. That provided some justification for my decision to remain in town rather than go the Sulby.
In the limited session that was available Ian Hutchinson and Michael Dunlop again set the pace with the Tyco BMW of Hutchinson edging out the Bennetts Suzuki of Dunlop, 128.98mph to 127.23mph. The speeds were amazing given that warning flags were displayed on most of the mountain section due to the increasing amount of drizzle falling.
The session got underway on time at 6.20pm with the riders briefed that they may be stopped at Ramsey but on the first lap, it was clear enough to at least get one full lap in. Hutchinson, first away from the line with Steve Mercer, was the first to reach Ramsey and he had put quite a distance between himself and the rest. He put down a marker with his 128mph lap being the best of the evening. It also moved him to the top of the overall leader board, such as it is to date.
Mercer lapped at 123.98mph quickly followed over the line by Dunlop whose time was second best of the evening. Michael Rutter and Martin Jessopp set almost identical lap times at 123.96mph and 123.94mph respectively, having set off together, whilst James Hillier was slightly quicker at 124.52mph.
Bruce Anstey completed his first lap of the week on the beautiful looking and sounding Honda RC211V, he lapped at 124.14mph. Conor Cummins and Gary Johnson also lapped above the 124mph mark. However, the third quickest lap of the night came from Dan Kneen on his DTR powered by Penz 13 BMW. He posted a speed of 125.19, which put him top the Superstock class matching what he did on Wednesday evening.
The Norton Racing Australian duo of David Johnson and Josh Brookes were picking up the pace, lapping at 123.61mph and 122.58mph respectively while Guy Martin was also quicker than the previous night with a lap of 121.42mph on the new Fireblade. Lee Johnston was the quickest 600 on the Padgetts’ bike, with a speed of 122.16mph. By now conditions had deteriorated markedly; with thickening fog descending on the Mountain and visibility was significantly reduced.
The riders were short lapped at the start and finish but went out again with most of the front runners going at full pace to Ramsey. Unfortunately, the cloud cover was now coming down on the bottom part of the circuit and with no Airmed cover possible anywhere around the 37.73-miles course, Gary Thompson had no alternative other than to call the session to a halt at 7.15pm.
Dave Sellers was reported to be off at the Gooseneck and though reported as up and okay he was later transferred to Nobles hospital with a reported rib injury. We hope that he makes a rapid recovery. The forecast for Thursday is awful; please let that be wrong.