Wednesday afternoon was dry, with a light breeze, but persistent high cloud over the mountain. There were many damp patches around the course following overnight rain and morning showers. There was a good crowd gathered at the Bungalow to watch the action; with a good proportion of them being German or French. The track at the Bungalow was perfectly dry; but it was cool due to the cloud obscuring the sun for most of the afternoon.
The session saw the Lightweights, Juniors and Classic Seniors out first. Michael Dunlop on the Crossan Honda was first to come into view; he was neat and tidy and powered away towards Brandywell. Next into view was Jim Hind on the DT Yamaha and he was flying; very fast around the first left hand part of the section and rapid away over the tram lines. Next through were Chris Moore and Marc Colvin on their Junior machines. The action was non-stop for the next ten minutes as the riders streamed through; most were perfectly on the racing line and able to put the power on as they crossed the tram lines, thus not losing time on the long climb towards the Brandywell section. Noticed to be going well in the Junior were Jamie Williams, Francesco Curinga, Andrea Majola and Victor Lopez. In the Classic Seniors Stefano Bonetti was the quickest on the Paton; teammate John McGuinness having been forced to park his machine at Ballacrye. Eoin O’Soichru was the pick of the newcomers in the Junior class; he raised his personal best to over 105mph. Jim Hind managed to squeeze three laps into the session and on his final lap upped his pace to over 116mph.
Michael Dunlop and Phil Crowe led the second session away; this one for Classic Superbike and MGP Senior machines. Dunlop pulled away from Crowe and was well ahead on the road as he heeled the big Suzuki into the Bungalow. Next through were Nathan Harrison and Craig Neve; both impressive. Then it was non-stop for the next ten minutes as the riders took advantage of the conditions to put in as many laps as possible; so making up for the total loss of Monday’s session and Tuesday’s being much shortened. First of the Seniors to hammer past us were Stephen Smith and David McConnachy; both rapid on their very differently sounding machines. Jamie Williams continued to impress; as did fastest newcomer Paul Cassidy.
Dunlop was fastest at over 122mph; but he had to stop at the pits due to gearbox problems and an oil leak. His pit crew worked a miracle and had him back on track for the evening session. Rob Hodson took advantage and grabbed top spot on the speed charts with his second lap at 123.471mph. Nathan Harrison and Davo Johnson upped their pace to over 122mph; as did Craig Neve on his third lap. The MGP Seniors remained tight at the top with Smith ending the session as fastest, with a lap at 119.056mph. The margins at the top are tiny; this promises to be the best race of the meeting.
The evening session brought roads that were much less damp than in the afternoon and with plenty of rubber on the track, speeds were set to be higher. In a reversal of the afternoon, it was the Superbikes and MGP Senior machines that were let loose first. Michael Dunlop and Phil Crowe kicked the session off; the former with a new engine fitted to the big Suzuki. Michael was rapid on the run to Ramsey, where he was well clear of Rob Hodson and Crowe; who came into Parliament Square together. As with the afternoon, the action was frenetic for the first ten minutes; with some good action for the spectators. Most of the top Superbike riders were on track, Davo Johnson an exception; his afternoon exertions being enough for one day.
David McConnachy was first of the MGP Senior machines to reach Ramsey; however, he was forced to park it at the Bungalow. Jamie Williams, Chris Cook and Sam Mousley were next; then class leader Stephen Smith came through; all neat and fast. The action was good for the spectators; a few riders missed their breaking points and crossed the square in the wrong post code. Dunlop was first to complete the lap; he raised the bar to 124.735mph; giving him 15s advantage over Kawasaki mounted Rob Hodson. Smith lapped at 119.317mph to retain top spot in the Senior by 6s from Jamie Williams.
Second time around, most raised their lap speeds; Dunlop raising his to 125.537mph to top the overall leader board. Rob Hodson is second fastest overall at123.471mph; with Davo Johnson third thanks to his afternoon lap at 123.233mph. Stephen Smith was just shy of 120mph in the Senior class with 119.888mph. He leads the overall leader board at 119.956mph, McConnachy is second at 119.386mph; with Williams third at 119.089mph.
The second part of the session was led away by Jim Hind and Mike Browne on their Lightweight machines. Michael Dunlop (Honda) and John McGuinness (Paton) were next away. Hind was first to Ramsey and he was flying; his lap at 115.588mph was 3mph faster than Michael Dunlop’s. Hind leads the overall speed chart at 116.317mph; comfortably ahead of Mike Browne (113.486mph) and Ian Lougher (113.118mph). Dunlop is best non-Yamaha rider at 112.611mph; but come race day; if the bike is sorted to his liking, he will be a real threat to Hind.
The Juniors gave us some fine action and some proper racing noise to savour. It was close at the sharp end with Victor Lopez Santos and Jamie Williams both over 113mph. For the week to date Francesco Curinga leads at 114.974mph from Jamie Williams at 114.815mph and Victor Lopez Santos at 114.419mph.
The Senior Classic machines were led on the first lap of the evening by Dominic Herbertson on the Davies Yamaha at 107.802mph. John McGuinness was presumably bedding parts in after his machine failure in afternoon; his opening lap was just over 92mph. He then opened the taps and put in the best lap of the week at 109.680mph. Stefano Bonetti (Paton) is second overall at 107.873mph with Herbertson third. Jamie Coward and Mike Browne are the best of the single cylinder riders; both having lapped at over 104mph.