Anstey fastest overall, Coward on 500 form at penultimate qualifying session
Bruce Anstey continued his impressive form during the 2017 Classic TT Races presented by Bennetts with the fastest time of the week on his Padgetts Motorcycles.com YZR 500 Yamaha.
The New Zealander lapped at 125.49 and afterwards revealed how much he was enjoying riding the bike and clearly has something left in the tank:
“Clive Padgett has done a fantastic job over the winter and the bike is the best it’s ever been. I was going really well on the second lap but then slowed a bit when I got to some traffic.”
Ahead of the fourth qualifying session for the 2017 Classic TT Races presented by Bennetts, Clerk of the Course Gary Thompson advised competitors that for the first time this week roads were completely dry all round the course with no damp patches and good visibility all round the course.
First on the track were the Superbikes and Lightweight machines and David Johnson on his Team York Suzuki and Bruce Anstey on the Padgetts Motorcycles.com YZR 500 Yamaha, carrying the number 1 and 2 plates respectively, were the first two away promptly at 6.20pm.
Other riders out on their Superbikes included James Hillier, Gary Johnson, Lee Johnston and Michael Rutter. Michael Dunlop elected to go out on his Turner Racing Yamaha 250 Lightweight machine and was initially reported as a retirement at Quarterbridge but managed to get going again before retiring at Sulby. Other retirements early in the session include Derek Shiels at Ballig Bridge and James Cowton at Parliament Square while Lee Johnston was also a retirement at Kirk Michael.
Anstey topped the board with the fastest two laps to establish himself as clear favourite for Monday’s Motorsport Merchandise Superbike Race, with Michael Dunlop yet to complete a lap on the Team Classic Suzuki but behind the New Zealander the Kawasaki mounted Horst Saiger (123.83) and Dean Harrison 123.74 were stating their case as potential podium finishers.
In the concurrent Lightweight session, with Bruce Anstey preferring to focus on his Superbike machine after the previous evening’s exploits, Dan Sayle on the Steelcote Solutions Yamaha topped the board with an impressive 115.55 ahead of Ian Lougher on the Laylaw Racing Yamaha (115.22) with Michael Rutter (114.57) also to the fore.
Setting off from the bottom of pit lane, the second session for Senior and Junior machines got away at 7.15pm and Josh Brookes and Maria Costello - both riding Patons - for Team Winfield and Team Beugger Racing respectively - were first away but Costello was reported to be off near Braddan shortly after the start but was unhurt.
Brookes powered to a 107.781, slower than his 109 lap the previous evening but Jamie Coward signalled his potential for race honours in Saturday’s Bennetts Senior Classic TT with a remarkable lap of 108.669 on the single cylinder Manx Norton to top the board for the session with William Dunlop on the Davies Motorsport Honda (105.935) completing the top three.
In the concurrent Junior class Michael Rutter, the 2015 race winner who also finished narrow runner up to Michael Dunlop in last year’s race, posted another 100mph+ lap with 102.063 from Phil McGurk (99.684) on the Chris Hughes Honda and Cameron Donald (97.470) on the McIntosh Racing Norton.
However, with conditions deteriorating around the Mountain Course, notably with a lack of visibility reported between the Bungalow and Kates Cottage, Clerk of the Course Gary Thompson elected to end the session early at 7.40pm, which meant that there was only time for a single lap for all of the competitors in the Senior and Junior classes.
Chris Barrett was reported to have come off at the Gooseneck in the Lightweight session and was taken by airmed to Nobles Hospital with a leg injury.
Tomorrow's final full qualifying session is scheduled to get underway at 6.20pm with the Senior and Junior machines out first before the Lightweight and Superbikes at 7.15pm.