Another evening of warm, sunny weather brought a large crowd to the Bungalow to watch as the pace on track rose once again. The first session was for the big bikes. Peter Hickman, on his FHO Racing Superstock machine, was the first leave the Grandstand and take the plunge down Bray Hill. He was followed by Dean Harrison who had chosen his DAO Kawasaki Superbike. Davey Todd was next away, he chose his Milenco Padgett’s Superstock; teammate Conor Cummins was out his stocker that had, so far, refused to complete a lap.
As the lap progressed, Harrison chipped away at the 10s starting interval and at the Bungalow he was right behind Hickman as they swept through the left hander; crossed the tramlines and powered through the right hander and away to Brandywell. Todd was next; soon followed by Michael Dunlop; also Superstock mounted. That machine looks to be sorted; Michael able to hold a tighter line than the other top men. Jamie Coward, Josh Brookes, Conor Cummins, John McGuinness and Phil Crowe were noted as being rapid around the S bend; with Conor using less lean angle than the others.
Harrison proved to be the fastest man on track raising his Superbike speed to 133.284mph; quite simply amazing. Hickman posted 131.920mph; but that was eclipsed by Dunlop who raised his best to 132.694mph. Todd put in his best lap at 131.711mph; with Conor at last putting in a lap; his speed was 129.825mph. Jamie Coward is getting to grips with his new KTS Racing Honda, he lapped at 129.818mph on the Superbike version.
Hickman and Harrison went straight through for a second lap; whilst Michael Dunlop changed to his Superbike. Harrison was first through the Bungalow and was getting maximum value from his knee slider. The lean angle the modern riders can achieve is something to behold. Hickman was close behind and it was clear that they were really trying. Dunlop was spectacular; right out to the very edge of the tarmac on the exit as he charged up the rise to the highest point at Brandywell. Harrison raised his best to 113.514mph; Hickman set the best Superstock lap at 133.284. Dunlop; from a standing start, put his Hawk Honda around at 132.896mph. Jamie Coward broke the 130mph for the first time on a Honda (he has done so on a Yamaha) with 130.940mph and the old master, John McGuinness, proved that class endures by recording a lap at 130.035mph. Michael Rutter put his raucous Honda around at 129.147mph.
On the third lap Dunlop was even quicker through the checkpoints leading up to the Bungalow, where he was once again using every inch of the road on the exit. What could have been the best lap of the week was ultimately not; because it was a short lap due the Supersport / Supertwin session being underway when he reached the Grandstand. Despite this, his speed was an extremely impressive 133.367mph. Hickman was just shy of 132mph on his standing start lap on the Superbike and Conor Cummins joined the 130mph club on his, recording 130.615mph.
The first Supersport to reach the Bungalow as that of the rising French star, Pierre-Yves Bian on the Trooper Beer PHR Triumph; he was neat and fast. He ended the evening just shy of the 120mph mark. Dean Harrison has taken to his Supersport Yamaha, like a duck to water, and duly set the best speed on the first lap, with 124.990mph; Michael Dunlop close behind with 124.973mph. Dean was faster second time around setting a speed of 125.494mph to go second in the overall charts behind Michael. Late in the session, Peter Hickman put his Triumph around the course at 127.206mph to displace Michael’s Monday best from top spot in the overall speed charts.
In the Supertwins, Jamie Coward, Mike Browne and Josh Brookes stood out at the Bungalow; with Francesco Curinga impressive as he settles into his first TT; he set a personal best of 114.552mph. The best lap of the night was Coward’s 120.912mph; this leaves him second to Michael Dunlop; who blitzed the lap record in the first session of the week. Quietly spoken Irishman Mike Browne is a real contender for a podium finish; he put the gorgeous Paton around at 119.78mph. Josh Brookes is having his first ride on a Supertwin and is getting to grips with the job; he set a new personal best of 116.937mph; just ahead of Dominic Herbertson. Past winner Michael Rutter completes the top 6 in this class.
Mathieu Lagrive is best of the newcomers at 117.088mph on his Optimark Yamaha; with local rider Ryan Cringle, AGR Honda, second at 116.319mph. Former Pike’s Peak winner Rennie Scaysbrook; in his first Superbike outing has reached 117.069mph on the Wilson Craig Honda. Young local Jorge Halliday has topped 110mph on his Supersport Stanford Yamaha.
The Sidecars were last out; the sun was dipping ever closer to the horizon and the temperature was falling as they set off. The really good news was that Ryan and Callum were on track; okay to continue after their little excursion at Laurel Bank on Monday. They were going to take it steady on the first lap and ease back into race mode; their idea of steady was 114.128mph. As expected, it was close at the sharp end; at the end of the evening, it was the Birchall brothers who prevailed with a best lap of 118.523mph. Peter founds and Jevan Walmsley were 3.528s slower; their speed was 118.159mph. Alan founds has a new passenger in Colin Smyth; they ended the session with a lap at just over 100mph.
Thursday; for decades the day for afternoon practice; will have another full set of practice sessions; but in the evening. Friday will have a full set; but in the afternoon; confused? so is everyone else; but afternoon sessions are the best in my opinion.