Double top for Dunlop; Ingham and Robinson top 120mph; McGuinness leads Senior Classic at MGP

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The decision taken yesterday, to use today’s contingency practice proved very wise. The mist came down late in the afternoon and caused the cancellation of the scheduled evening practice. We shall now have another contingency afternoon session on Thursday afternoon; plus the originally scheduled evening session.

The conditions were the best of the week; high cloud meaning no harsh shadows; it was warm, the track completely dry and the breeze was negligible. The first session was given to the Senior Classic, Junior and the combined Lightweight / Ultra Lightweight MGP competitors. The session was excellent with most riders setting their best laps of the week as they settled to the task and the track rubbered in.

There was a small number of spectators at Milntown Bridge; including a couple of former racers. The corner provides great viewing with the top men becoming airborne over the bridge before skirting the stone wall on the inside of the corner. For them it is flat in fifth; with top gear being hit 100m beyond the corner. Losing speed here costs time on the run through Schoolhouse and into Parliament Square.

The first rider to reach us was Ian Lougher on the LayLaw Yamaha; he was rapid and the front wheel well off the ground. It evoked memories of his great duel with Steve Hislop in the 1990 Junior (250cc) TT and his lap record on the final lap. Next through were Marc Colvin (RC Racing Kawasaki) and Jamie Williams (NCE Kawasaki) on their Junior machines; they were fast; their jumps off the road were just a few inches; air time is wasted time. Next through was Victor Lopez; then it was John McGuinness on the Paton in company with James Hillier (CSC Yamaha). Next was Daniel Ingham on his Junior Aprilia; he did just one lap on this machine; but did complete 6 more on his other mounts. Michael Dunlop was next; was very rapid on the MD Yamaha; giving the front wheel plenty of air. He completed just one lap on the machine but that left him heading the class lap chart at 115.964mph. Ian Lougher was second at 115.253mph, with previous winner Dan Sayle (BasGas Honda) third at 113.328mph.

The action was non-stop as the combined classes streamed through at high speed. Newcomers Joe Yeardsley and Marcus Simpson continued to impress on their Junior machines; Yeardsley setting a speed of 114.891mph on his one lap on the Team ILR Paton; whilst Simpson recorded 113.600mph on his LMR Kawasaki. The best lap of the session went Andrea Majola on his Paton, at 116.102mph. Marc Colvin (RC Kawasaki) was second at 115.872mph with Victor Lopez (Mancini Paton) third at 115.579mph.

The speed of the 400cc bikes in the Ultra Lightweight was surprising, given their age. Local man Paul Cassidy (Island Fuels Kawasaki) put down his marker with 109.281mph on his second lap. Daniel Ingham (Jones Honda) was second at 106.622mph with Jonathon Perry (JAP Racing Honda) third at 106.117mph.

The Senior Classic bikes were great to watch and listen to with Mike Browne and Dean Harrison the most spectacular on their Nortons. Whilst Browne did nor complete the lap, Harrison ended the session in second place on his Craven Manx at 107.722mph. Shaun Anderson (Beugger Paton) was third at 107.731mph and the returning Adam McLean was fourth on the Flitwick Enfield at 106.794mph. With his opening lap at 110.848mph on the Winfield Paton; it was John McGuinness who topped the chart.

Then it was time for the Senior MGP and Classic Superbikes to take to the circuit. They put on quite a show; with some high flying at Milntown. Michael Dunlop was first on the road; he takes a tighter line in than most and today the Suzuki looked stable; unlike on Sunday. Julian Trummer and Craig Neve were next; both were crossed up on landing but carried on without rolling the throttle. Dean Harrison was spectacular on the deep throated Key Racing Ducati; as was Victor Lopez on the ILR Yamaha. The riders put an impressive show as they raised the ante. Joe Yeardsley was moved closer to the front of the field; with less traffic to contend with he put in a stellar second lap at 119.318mph on the Spin Arena Yamaha to be third fastest in the class. Marcus Simpson also took a quantum leap forward to record 118.601mph. Tom Robinson (Pete Stacey Kawasaki) was again over 120mph; his best was 120.128mph; but this was only good enough for second place. Daniel Ingham raised the bar to 120.251mph on his fourth and final lap on the Brook Built Yamaha. Maurizio Bottalico and Samuel Mousley both lapped at over 119mph. This race looks set to be a very close affair.

Michael Dunlop continued his domination of the practice leader board. He was fastest man of the day with his first lap on the Team Classic Suzuki machine; not as raucous as its rivals; it is certain fast; hitting 176mph on Sulby Straight. He lapped at 125.699mph. Davo Johnson raised his pace on the Cowan Kawasaki to be second at 124.433mph. Dean Harrison is getting to grips with the unfamiliar Key Racing Ducati that is 10mph down on top speed compared to Dunlop’s Suzuki. Dean set a new personal best at 124.256mph to be third on the day. Dom Herbertson, Craig Neve and Julian Trummer completed the top 6.

The weather looks set fair for Thursday’s two sessions; hopefully they will be incident free.