Bennetts Lightweight TT line up revealed
Tuesday, April 19, 2016
With the 2015 race seeing the first 120mph lap and decided by less than four seconds, the Bennetts Lightweight TT encounter should again be closely contested at the 2016 Isle of Man TT Races fuelled by Monster Energy. A strong entry list includes three of the four previous race winners.
The race distance has been increased from three laps to four this year and the race moves from its Friday slot to Wednesday 8th June, which means that refuelling stops and race strategy are less complicated.
Reigning champion Ivan Lintin will run with the number six plate again on the Devitt RC Express Racing Kawasaki and the Bristol-based team, having taken the top step of the podium for the last two years, will be targeting a hat-trick of wins in the SuperTwin class.
2014 race winner, and current lap record holder, James Hillier is thirty seconds ahead of Lintin on the grid at number three and the Quattro Plant Muc-Off Kawasaki rider has finished in the podium positions every year since the class was introduced in 2012.
That year’s winner was Ryan Farquhar, the first race winner in 2012, is arguably the flag bearer for the class, and he’s back to try and take his second win in the class, this time starting at number two on the SGS International/KMR Kawasaki.
There are plenty of other challengers in the 68-strong field though, none more so than Cameron Donald (4) on the second SGS International/KMR Kawasaki and last year’s third placed finisher Michael Rutter (9) although the Midlands rider has yet to confirm his machine and team.
Martin Jessopp has the honour of starting at number one on the Riders Motorcycles machine and it could give the Yeovil rider his best chance of a maiden podium finish at the TT.
TT revelation Peter Hickman will again have the number five plate in his debut appearance in the class and he should be well in contention on the BE/Cookstown Racing Kawasaki as will former double Manx Grand Prix winner Michael Russell who sets off at number eight. The RAF man is also the first Suzuki in the line up with the experienced JHS Racing squad.
Gary Johnson at number seven, who’s previously shown good speed on the Chinese WK Moto machine but has yet to finish a race and Gloucestershire’s Dan Cooper at number ten are the other two riders in the top ten. Cooper finished sixth last year so the race should give him his best shot of a maiden TT podium.
Just outside the top ten at number 11 is another potential winner in the shape of James Cowton. The Driffield rider has finished third and fourth in the last two years and coming into his third TT he has to be considered amongst the pre-race favourites.
Other seeded riders include Connor Behan (12), Mark Miller (13) and former Moto3 GP rider Danny Webb (14), all of whom have previously lapped in excess of 115mph, and they’re followed off the line by class newcomers Sam West (15), a revelation at last year’s TT, and Ryan Kneen (16).
Next to go is exciting youngster and Senior Manx Grand winner Malachi Mitchell-Thomas (17), James Ford (18) and the last of the seeds, Swedish rider Bjorn Gunnarsson (20).
Rob Hodson, the winner of the corresponding race at last year’s Manx Grand Prix is the first of the non-seeded riders at number 21, followed by Derek McGee, Michal Dokoupil, Michael Sweeney, Finn Tuukka Korhonen and South African ace Hudson Kennaugh.
Stefano Bonetti and Christopher Dixon are both on the entry, contesting the race for the first time, while TT Rider Liaison Officer John Barton is set to go at number 32.
A number of riders move up from the Manx Grand Prix including Barry Furber, Paul Smyth and Rob Livesey while Marc Purslow will be one to watch having won the Lightweight 400cc Manx Grand Prix last September.
Four newcomers will contest the race – Alastair Fagan, Olaf Romjin, Michael Booth and Canadian Darren James.