Anstey and McGuinness tee-up sensational Saturday races
- Michael Dunlop dominating Junior and Superbike Classic TT Qualifying
New Zealand’s Bruce Anstey turned back the clock in the Lightweight qualifying session at the 2016 Classic TT Races presented by Bennetts.
The eleven-time TT Race winner, who won the last 250 TT Race on the Mountain Course in 2002, threw down the gauntlet ahead of tomorrow’s Sure Lightweight TT Race on the Valvoline Racing by Padgetts Motorcycles RS250 Honda, posting a lap fractionally outside the outright 250cc lap record set by John McGuinness in 1999.
The 'Flying Kiwi' was clearly conservative on his opening lap of 111.328mph as he was 42 seconds up for the first sector to Glen Helen on his second lap and was running at an average of 130mph to Ramsey before clocking 118.24, fractionally outside McGuinness’s 118.29.
Michael Dunlop on the Team Classic Suzuki XR69 followed up his fastest of the week in the Junior Class in the opening session with the first 125mph lap of the meeting (125.562), in the later Superbike session. The Northern Ireland rider eclipsed Dean Harrison’s lap set 10 minutes earlier on the Silicone Engineering Kawasaki (124.823/ 18:08.161) to confirm his status as the favourite for Monday’s Motorsport Merchandise Superbike Classic TT Race.
After the frustration of yesterday’s session, when the Senior and Junior machines sat in pit lane without turning a wheel as the mist came down, Clerk of the Course Gary Thompson switched the order to put the Senior and Junior machines out first, although Lightweight competitors were also given the opportunity to go out in both sessions.
Michael Rutter on the Ripley Land Racing Matchless and Dean Harrison riding the Black Eagle Racing MV got the 500 session off at 6.17, three minutes ahead of schedule with Clerk of the Course Gary Thompson determined to wring every last minute out of the session following the loss of track time earlier in the week.
Rutter was an early retirement at Glen Duff but Harrison turned up the gas and powered to his fastest time of the week with a lap of 109.242mph (20:43.366) while Dan Hegarty also posted his fastest time of the week 104.681 (21:37.537).
John McGuinness was experiencing the ups and downs of racing on the TT Mountain Course, sliding off the Team Winfield Paton at Quarterbridge on his opening lap of the session before returning to the Grandstand and posting the fastest time of the week to date in the class with 110.363 (20:30.740) on his second lap. Wily campaigner Alan Oversby on the Davies Motorsport Honda also posted his best time of the week with 104.025 (21:45.727).
In tomorrow's opening Bennetts Senior Classic TT Race the Morecambe man will be hoping to end a run of misfortune having failed to finish in the three previous 500cc Classic TT Races.
Some frantic last minute work saw John Chapman Racing putting Ian Lougher out on the team’s Honda RC181, a replacement following the issues with the MV Agusta which blew its engine earlier in the week. Lougher conservatively nursed the bike round at 90.079 (25:07.875) to register a qualifying lap for tomorrow’s race.
In the Lightweight class Anstey’s time dominated the session and established him as the clear favourite for tomorrow’s Sure Lightweight Classic TT Race, his lap tonight putting him almost 40 seconds ahead of Ian Lougher’s lap on the Laylaw Yamaha in Tuesday’s session. Ryan Kneen finished as the third fastest qualifier for the class with his time from Thursday’s session with Charles Rhys Hardistry improving his time with a 110.553 (20.28.623), the second fastest on the night and fourth overall.
In the Superbike session that got underway shortly after 7.25pm Dunlop and Harrison dominated with their fastest laps of the week but Austrian Horst Saiger riding the Greenall Racing Kawasaki posted his fastest lap of the week (123.049mph/ 18:23.849) to finish the week third fastest overall.
Michael Dunlop’s time of 102.567 on the Black Eagle Racing MV Agusta was the fastest Junior time of the week but brother William also signalled his intent with another lap of 100mph on the Davies Motorsport Honda.
Tomorrow, the first Classic TT Race day, opens with the Bennetts Senior Classic TT Race at 11.30 followed by the Sure Lightweight Classic TT Race at 4.15. For live Manx Radio commentary and live timing go to iomtt.com