Friday afternoon brought a couple of hours of rain on the island; this meant that the scheduled afternoon practice session could not proceed. Thankfully, the clouds bearing the rain had moved away before the time of evening road closure that had been pencilled in to cover for the loss of another session. Rain inevitably means damp patches under the trees and an added danger for the riders. Why these trees are not at least cut back; better still removed completely; is a mystery; there were no trees lining the course when the event began in 1907. The problem of the strobe effect of bright light through the trees and hawthorn hedgerows has been raised with the powers that be on many occasions; it gives another reason to maintain hedgerows at a low height; not allow them to run riot; hopefully the comments of Glenn Irwin will stir some positive action in this respect.
When the session began at 6.30pm, it was bright skies around all but the northern parts of the course. The riders were warned of the damp patches from Ginger Hall through to the Conker Fields and what is perennially the worst section; that from Ramsey Hairpin to Waterworks.
These caveats did not stop Peter Hickman’s stranglehold on the Superbike class continuing as he lapped at a mightily impressive 132.874mph on the Gas Monkey Garage by FHO Racing BMW despite the conditions in the north of the Island.
Elsewhere, Michael Dunlop was the man of the moment as he topped the Superstock (129.299mph), Supersport (125.04mph) and Supertwin (120.303mph) leader boards, whilst newcomer Glenn Irwin again left everyone in awe with a new personal best lap of 128.268mph making him the fifth fastest Superbike on the night.
The damp conditions meant it was the Supersport/Supertwin machines, on treaded tyres, that were the first to take to the Mountain Course and it was 7.18pm before the Superbikes went out on track, Dunlop (Hawk Racing) setting off towards Bray Hill first with Michael Rutter (Bathams Ales), Ian Hutchinson (Milwaukee BMW Motorrad) and Craig Neve (Callmac Scaffolding) next to go.
It was Hickman who set the pace on the first lap though, and although Dunlop (129.346mph) was the first to cross the line, Hickman was some 15s quicker at 131.241mph. Jamie Coward (127.546mph) placed third ahead of Irwin (126.196mph), James Hillier (125.958mph) and Shaun Anderson (125.502mph). Mike Browne (124.752mph) was next up in seventh. Browne’s performance is amazing considering that he broke his ankles at Cookstown one month ago.
A number of leading contenders went out first on their Superstock machines with Dean Harrison (DAO Racing Kawasaki) the early pacesetter at 127.853mph, followed by Conor Cummins (127.635mph), Neve (124.783mph), Nathan Harrison (124.313mph) and Brian McCormack (124.142mph).
As riders got more used to the conditions on lap two, the speeds improved, especially Hickman’s as he flashed across the line at 132.876mph, no mean feat given the damp patches in the north of the Island. Hillier (127.449mph) also improved but was soon back down in seventh as Harrison (128.56mph) and Lee Johnston (128.503mph) both overhauled him as did Irwin who posted the aforementioned 128.268mph lap! That put him fifth quickest with Browne deserving another mention as he again went quicker at 125.54mph.
The earlier Supersport/Supertwin session saw Dunlop lead the riders away on his Paton Supertwin and he was swiftly followed by Hillier (RICH Energy OMG Racing), John McGuinness MBE (SMT Racing/Blue Earth Construction), Harrison (DAO Racing Kawasaki) and Hutchinson (Boyce Precision by Russell Racing).
Those four were all Supersport-mounted as were Davey Todd, Hickman and Conor Cummins but Johnston, Gary Johnson and Dominic Herbertson had all chosen their Supertwin machines for their first lap of the evening. The latter soon stopped though at Union Mills.
Harrison and Hickman set the pace to Ramsey with Todd in third but the live coverage on TT+ later caught the latter’s Honda expiring in a plume of smoke towards the end of the Mountain Mile, he pulled in in at the Mountain Box. He then managed to grab a lift on an enduro bike and made it back to the Grandstand in time to put in another lap.
The damp patches kept the times down a little with Harrison (123.044mph), Hutchinson (122.717mph) and Hickman (121.981mph) the leading three 600cc machines first time around closely followed by Cummins (121.779mph), Paul Jordan (121.388mph) and Hillier (121.295mph). Dunlop was the quickest Supertwin (120.303mph), immediately pitting to switch to his Supersport machine, ahead of Johnston (116.06mph) and Rob Hodson (115.04mph).
The second lap saw a similar pace from Hutchinson (122.61mph) but Hickman upped his tempo considerably to 124.835mph, moving him to the top of the leader board, although it didn’t last long as Dunlop soon took over after lapping 1.7s quicker at 125.04mph. Cummins (123.524mph) moved up to third, pushing Harrison and Hutchinson down to fourth and fifth, with Browne going well again at 121.889mph.
Dunlop’s Supertwin time remained unbeaten but Jordan (PreZ Racing by Prosper2) squeezed into second with a lap of 116.371mph. Hodson increased his speed to 115.856mph and placed fourth ahead of Michael Evans (114.65mph) and impressive newcomer Joe Loughlin (114.261mph).
An incident at Joey’s involving Supersport, Number 46, Mike Booth as well as a burst water main at Cronk ny Mona meant the Sidecars were confined to just one lap ahead of their race tomorrow. It was Peter Founds/Jevan Walmsley who were quickest at 115.441mph followed by Ryan and Callum Crowe (114.276mph), Lewis Blackstock/Patrick Rosney (111.008mph), Dave Molyneux/Daryl Gibson (109.312mph), Paul Leglise/Melanie Farnier (108.634mph) and Conrad Harrison/Andy Winkle (107.761mph). There were loud gasps at Parliament Square when Cesar Chanal and Olivier Lavorel nearly flipped the outfit on the exit.
Having dominated the sidecar qualifying sessions so far, the Birchalls started the session before pulling off the course shortly afterwards. Elsewhere there was disappointment for John Holden as he’s been forced to withdraw from the event due to a lack of suitable passenger, newcomer Jason Pitt pulling out due to lack of experience and substitute Dan Sayle’s previous injuries seeing him unable to compete at the optimum level.
- Mike Booth, off at Joey’s, reported conscious with leg injuries, airlifted to Noble’s Hospital
Rider condition update:
- Dave Moffitt, off at Laurel Bank, 30th May, remains serious but stable and continues to receive treatment1 of 7
Report and images by Richard Radcliffe. For more info check out our dedicated Isle of Man TT News page Isle of Man TT