Heavy hitters line up for Bennett's Lightweight TT
The Bennetts Lightweight TT completes the solo race programme at the 2017 Isle of Man TT Races, fuelled by Monster Energy, and the four-lap encounter has is strongest line-up since it returned to the calendar in its current form six years ago.
The top twenty seeds are packed with potential race winners but Ivan Lintin is the man they all have to beat. The Dafabet Devitt RC Express Racing rider has made the class his own in recent times and having won the race for the last two years, is in pole position to make it a hat-trick in 2017.
The Lincolnshire rider takes the number two plate this year with Lee Johnston having the honour of starting at number one, as he does in the two Monster Energy Supersport races.
The Northern Ireland rider, now based in Bradford, has a great chance of success on the KMR Kawasaki. However, others starting behind him are also strong contenders including last year’s third place finisher, Martin Jessopp, who starts directly behind Ivan at number three on the Riders Motorcycles Kawasaki.
Michael Rutter, who will be reunited with the Italian Paton brand that saw him take third in 2015 and record the third fastest lap ever in the class, goes in fourth this year, as part of a factory entered team.
Dan Cooper, sixth in both 2015 and 2016, will be aiming for his first TT podium at number five followed by 13 times TT winner Michael Dunlop, who is scheduled to compete on the McAdoo Racing Kawasaki.
Hot on his heels down Glencrutchery Road Gary Johnson again rides the WK Bikes CFMOTO machine. He took fourth twelve months ago and was only two seconds off the podium so cannot be ruled out.
James Cowton, third in the 2014 race, lines up on a second McAdoo Kawasaki at number eight with Steve Mercer starting at number nine on the second Dafabet Devitt RC Express Racing Kawasaki.
Peter Hickman, another potential race winner, starts at number ten and pilots a second KMR Kawasaki for triple TT winner Ryan Farquhar with Stefano Bonetti, who will be looking to improve on his fine fifth place in 2016, appropriately riding the second factory Paton entry at 11.
Michael Russell, a double Manx Grand Prix winner, is on board one of the few Suzuki’s in the field, setting off at number 12 on the JHS Racing-entered machine and directly behind him will be Dan Hegarty, the 2016 TT Privateer’s Champion, on the third Paton in the top twenty.
Local star Dan Kneen lines up at number 14 just ahead of Danny Webb on the third KMR Kawasaki in the top twenty while Irish star Derek Sheils goes at number 16 for Cookstown BE Racing.
The top twenty is completed by 2015 Manx GP winner Rob Hodson, Swedish ace Bjorn Gunnarsson, Derek McGee and Colin Stephenson.