Dunlop in charge after first qualifying session of Classic TT 2016
After the frustration of Saturday’s cancelled session, the weather improved allowing a full qualifying session for the 2016 Classic TT presented by Bennetts on the Isle of Man tonight.
Clerk of the Course Gary Thompson MBE got the session away at 6.25pm, advising competitors that there were a number of damp patches around the course including Doran’s, Laurel Bank, Glen Helen, Sulby, 27th and Governors following the rain earlier in the day.
First away were the newcomers on their untimed speed controlled lap, which was held over from Saturday, including Junior Classic TT competitor Ian Thompson from Northern Ireland on MB Racing Honda, Carl Salvage on the TZ250 Yamaha and Gary Hutton competing in the Senior on a Hutton Racing Honda.
The Classic TT Superbikes and Lightweight competitors had the first opportunity for timed qualifying laps. Notable early starters in the Superbike class included last year’s race winner Michael Dunlop on the Team Classic Suzuki XR69, Steve Mercer, looking for his first Mountain Course podium on the Mistral Racing Kawasaki and Ivan Lintin, recovering from an accident at Scarborough, on the Devitt/RC Express Racing Kawasaki.
Those three were the fastest in the session with Dunlop’s 121.133 (18:41.317) topping the board with his only lap in the Superbike session from Mercer who posted 118.203 (19:09.107) on his second lap with Lintin clocking 117.995 (19:11.136) to complete the top three.
Gary Johnson, a late replacement for the injured Dave Johnson on the Team York Suzuki, posted 117.805 on only his second lap on the bike with the Kawasaki’s of James Hillier (Greenhall Racing) and Dean Harrison (Silicone Engineering) completing the top six.
Alan Thomas from Wales was reported off at the Water Works during the Superbike session but was uninjured.
In the Lightweight session, Bruce Anstey was an early retirement at Kirk Michael on his opening lap on the much-anticipated Valvoline Racing by Padgetts Motorcycles 250 Honda. Welshman Ian Lougher (113.363mph/ 19:58.172) on the Laylaw Racing Yamaha on which he won the 2014 F2 Race was the fastest, from Phil Harvey (107.046/ 21:08.851) and Chris Moore (105.244/ 21:30.605).
The Junior (350’s) and Senior (500’s) Classic TT sessions got away on time at 7.10pm. All eyes were on Michael Dunlop, a late replacement for the injured Lee Johnston on the Black Eagle Racing MV, but he was reported as an early retirement.
Twenty-three time TT Race winner John McGuinness riding Roger Winfield’s Paton will be hoping to break his Classic TT duck and posted the evening’s fastest time in the class on his second lap of the night with 107.089 (21:08.362) from 2015 race winner Dean Harrison (106.746/ 21:12.446) riding the Black Eagle MV with Michael Rutter on the Ripley Land Racing Seeley the third fastest in the session with 104.373/ 21:41.376. Conor Cummins enjoyed his first ride on the second Team Winfield Paton with an opening lap of 103.081/ 21:57.688).
Michael Rutter, the 2015 350cc race winner, will again be the man to beat in the newly named Junior Classic TT, topping the Junior board in the opening session on his Ripley Land Racing Honda with 99.501 (22.45.097) from fellow Honda riders Jamie Coward (Ted Woof) and Alan Oversby (Davies Motorsport).