The weather finally released its iron grip on the island and a double practice session was run for riders who been sitting frustrated since Monday’s shortened session. The conditions were not ideal; with the mist lingering above the track on the mountain session in the afternoon and for most of the evening session. There were still damp patches under the trees in the afternoon. In the evening session all of the track was dry; but to the riders had to contend with a near gale force wind.
Michael Rutter and Jamie Coward were first away from the Grandstand; both on their Senior Classic machines. Coward was the first to jump the famous old bridge and from then on it was four laps of non-stop action as the riders sought to put in as much track time as possible. Rutter, Coward, James Hillier, John McGuinness and Dean Harrison gained top style marks. Andrew Farrell and Darryl Tweed were spectacular; landing their machines in the next post code. Michal Dunlop; out for his first lap of the meeting gave his normal front wheel first landing. Lancelot Unissart was fortunate not to lose control with his nearly vertical front wheel landing. Despite some overly ambitious overtaking manoeuvres and some heavy late braking everyone made it safely through the village.
Dean Harrison led the lap charts on his Kawasaki Classic Superbike with 124.562mph. Horst Saiger continued his good form with 121.640mph, Conor Cummins lapped at over 120mph on the ex-GP Padgetts Yamaha; whilst Michael Dunlop’s lap was at 119.889. John McGuinness led the way in the Senior Classic at 109.589mph; this on his spare bike. Jamie Coward was second at 107.164mph with Michael Rutter third at 105.510mph. The Junior Classic speed chart was led by Dominic Herbertson at 100.736mph; from Michael Rutter at 99.658mph and Lee Johnston at 99.124mph; this looks set to be the most closely contested of the classic races. Bruce Anstey led the way in the Lightweight Classic with 116.994mph; Dean Harrison; now settled on the little Yamaha was second at 115.868mph; with Jamie Coward third at 112.835mph.
In the MGP James Hind showed the way with his lap of 120.252mph that topped the Junior and senior charts. Darryl Tweed was next at 119.467mph; with local rider Nathan Harrison third at 119.509mph. Hind showed his versatility by leading the Lightweight MGP at 111.151mph on his 250 Yamaha, from Dave Butler (650 Kawasaki) 111.049mph and Royce Rowe at 110.203mph (how good to see him back after his big off at Union Mills in 2017). The Ultra-Lightweight pace setter was Daniel Ingham at 104.160mph, James Caswell the nearest challenger at 103.524mph.
The Newcomers put up some good speeds despite their chronic lap of track time. Pierre-Yves Bian was best in Class A with 108.509mph; next best were Michael Mace at 106.733mph and Lewis Bramwell at 105.391mph. Class B was led by Andrea Majola at 103.271mph and class C by Adrian Skaife at 93.264mph.
At the Gooseneck it was very windy and quite cool for the evening session; but at least the sun did make an occasional appearance to lift the spirits. The inside is a great place for getting close to the action; no need for a long lens there. John McGuinness was first to reach the rising right hand bend; that due to remodelling is now much faster than it once was. The Paton sounded gorgeous as he powered away towards Joey’s. Michael Rutter was next on the Matchless; then it was a repeat of the afternoon with four laps of non-stop action. There none of No Limits style manoeuvres of the afternoon session; just fast action for the small group of enthusiast to enjoy.
John McGuinness was again best in the Senior Classic; improving his speed to 110.135mph. Stefano Bonetti put his Paton into second with a lap at 108.940mph and Lee Johnston put his Honda around at 106.162mph. In the Junior Classic, Jamie coward jumped to the top of the list with a lap at 101.800mph; none of the other leading contenders improved their best speed. Bruce Anstey was out for one lap and increased his best to 117.291mph; what a story it will be if he wins the race. James Hind is a busy boy at this meeting; he was second fastest on his Yamaha at 113.542mph.
In the MGP Junior and Senior classes James Hind was the only rider to top 120mph; Stephen Parsons upped his pace to 119.638mph; Nathan Harrison was also faster at 119.211mph. Hind’s lap at 113.542mph gave him top spot in the MGP Lightweight class; Dave Butler increased his best to 112.723mph; with Francesco Curinga third on his Paton at 112.366mph. Daniel Ingham was not as fast in the evening but continues to lead the Ultra-Lightweight class. The Newcomers made significant progress; Pierre-Yves Bian scorched around at 110.177mph; Michael Mace improved to 109.582mph and Lewis Bramwell to 106.293mph. Andrea Majola leads class B at 105.433mph; whilst Andrew Jackson took over at the top of Class C with 97.370mph.
We have just learned that Dean Harrison will miss the rest of the meeting due to an incident at Ballig Bridge during the evening session. He is reported to have clipped a wall; he regained control of his Yamaha and tried to continue; but was in too much pain. He was subsequently transferred to the Nobles Hospital, where it was found that he has some broken ribs. We wish Dean a full and rapid recovery from his injuries.
Today (Saturday) will see more practice for all classes apart from the Senior and Lightweight classes that will be racing in the afternoon. The weather is now set fair so it should be a long and action packed day; hopefully an incident free one.