Superbike gauntlet thrown down by Donald
Thursday, June 04, 2009
The penultimate practice session for the 2009 Isle of Man TT Races saw perfect weather once more and what a night it turned out to be. Australian ace Cameron Donald unofficially shattered the outright lap record and a speed of 131.457mph was over eight and a half seconds inside John McGuinness’ lap of 130.354mph set during the 2007 Senior race. The night also saw Michael Dunlop smash the Supersport 600cc lap record with a lap of 126.290mph and he must now go into Monday’s race as one of the favourites.
For the first time this year, the session got away on time at 6.20pm and the riders were out in force on their Superbike machines, Bruce Anstey, Cameron Donald, Guy Martin, Steve Plater, Conor Cummins, Ryan Farquhar and Ian Lougher to name just a few. Michael Dunlop was again on his 600cc Yamaha with John McGuinness leaving the line in his now customary 15th-20th place.
However, McGuinness was missing at Glen Helen, eventually coming through some time later and he pulled in at the end of the lap reporting a misfire, his lap a lowly 110.27mph. At the front of the field though, it was Plater who lapped fastest at 128.982mph with Donald and Martin not too far behind at 128.754 and 128.735 respectively. Lougher, Gary Johnson and Ian Hutchinson were also above the 127mph mark.
Anstey pulled in after a lap of 126.57 reporting that work still needed to be done with the rear shock but the changes worked as he became the second rider to hit the 130mph mark this week with a lap of 130.129. Donald jumped up to 129.421 with Hutchinson improving to 129.027 but the second lap saw Dunlop steal the headlines with a stunning lap of 126.290, comfortably inside Anstey’s year old Supersport lap record.
However, right at the end of the session Donald really threw down the gauntlet for the Superbike class and a simply stunning lap of 17m13.25s, 131.457mph saw him not only become the fastest man of the week but also the fastest man ever to have lapped the Mountain Course. It’s been a problematic week for the Australian but with his machine now working to his liking, he’s moved himself right back into contention and sent a message across the paddock.
McGuinness did two laps on his Supersport machine, the quickest at 123.86mph, before heading back out on his Superbike but there was too much traffic to contend with and his final lap was down in the 126mph bracket.
It was left to Hutchinson to post the most impressive lap in the closing stages with a lap of 125.118mph on his Padgetts Supersport machine whilst Carl Rennie posted an impressive 126.252 to top the Royal London 360◦ Superstock class to lead the evening’s times.
The fight to be best newcomer again raged between Steve Mercer and Luis Carreira and it was the Englishman who came out on top tonight with a lap of 119.007mph although the Portuguese rider wasn’t far behind at 119.005mph. Michal Dopukil was again impressing on his Supersport machine, his best lap being 117.36mph.
Dave Molyneux and Dan Sayle led the Sure Sidecar field away with Tim Reeves and Patrick Farrance not too far behind but the red flag came out after separate incidents at Bray Hill and Kirk Michael. David Atkinson was reported as being OK in the St Ninians incident but passenger Jane Wheatcroft suffered an arm injury and was taken by ambulance to Nobles Hospital. In the Kirk Michael incident at Douglas Road Corner Karl Bennett/Lee Cain’s machine caught fire but both were reported OK.
With Donald’s sensational 131mph+ lap, he’s now taken over at the top of the leaderboard for the Graham watch award whilst the cancellation of the Sidecar session means Crowe and Cox remain on top.
The full results can be downloaded from the 2009 TT Results page now.
Graham Watch – Solo Leaderboard
1 Cameron Donald (Relentless by TAS Suzuki) – 131.457mph
2 John McGuinness (HM Plant Honda) – 130.171mph
3 Bruce Anstey (Relentless by TAS Suzuki) – 130.129mph
Graham Watch – Sidecar Leaderboard
1 Nick Crowe/Mark Cox (HM Plant Honda) – 116.063mph
2 Dave Molyneux/Dan Sayle (A&J Racing Suzuki) – 114.697mph
3 Phil Dongworth/Gary Partridge (WAS Autocentre Honda) – 112.400mph