Isle of Man TT 2017

Fifteen things I’ve learnt from the TT…

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01) Michael Dunlop can ride anything fast around the Rock. Winning on the new Suzuki? Some achievement that…
02) The Gooseneck is the best spot I’ve watched from yet. So close you can see the riders eyes. And the lines between the quicker and slower riders is fascinating
03) Brandywell is up there too…can hear them for miles, and watching the fast boys hug the very edge of the tarmac before they tip left is intoxicating
04) The howl from Bruce Anstey’s RCV is earbleedingly loud. That noise is just beautiful
05) Josh Brookes is the most stylish rider around the Mountain course
06) The French are still the masters of the suicide move and love nothing better than just stopping at the side of the road in a large group with no indication whatsoever
07) But they’re not as bad as the Italians who are fast through the 30s and then slow as through the Nationals
08) Never believe the grizzled rider talking loudly to anyone who will listen. ‘My old R1 was better…used to rev to 24,000 and fly’. Yeah, whatever
09) Strange things really do happen on the Rock. Like when you talk via FB to an American with an Aprilia, a mate of a mate, and then find yourself stood right next to him, unplanned, at Lezayre
10) The Slock road may be the best bit of tarmac on the Island
11) The rope used to secure the bikes on the Manannan must be the strongest in the world. The crossing home was rough, really rough, and my Factory never moved an inch
12) The steak at the Forge is to die for….cooked rare of course
13) But the peanut butter cheesecake is out of this world. Quite simply the best dessert know to man
14) Never, ever be the man who orders a table for one at the Raj. And never, ever admit to being that man when the waitress comes out and asks for you in front of a group of drunknen, hungry bikers. Oh the shame 😉
15) There’s always one biker who thinks he can beat the queue and do a three-point turn on the Mezzanine deck of the boat when you dock in Liverpool. You can’t. Never, ever be that man, eh Yag?

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Road racing – Dunlop dominates shortened Senior

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Michael Dunlop won a shortened Senior TT race at the 2017 Isle of Man TT Races, with the Bennetts Suzuki rider taking his 15th TT victory by 13.3s from Peter Hickman (Smiths Racing BMW) and Dean Harrison (Silicone Engineering Kawasaki).

The race was restarted over four laps after the original race was red flagged on the second lap due to an incident involving 16-time TT winner Ian Hutchinson at the 27th Milestone. The Tyco BMW rider was conscious but was taken to hospital by airmed where it was later confirmed that he had suffered a fractured femur.

The race had been shaping up to be an epic with just 0.18s between Hickman and Hutchinson and Harrison only 1.2s further back in third but, eventually getting underway at 5.15pm, Dunlop led the restarted race through Glen Helen on the opening lap, with a 1.5s advantage over Bruce Anstey. Harrison was a further 0.9s back in third with Hickman, Michael Rutter and James Hillier completing the top six, the last two getting a second bite of the cherry having experienced problems in the first start.

Dunlop increased his lead through Ramsey slightly to 2s but Hickman was up to second ahead of Anstey who in turn held a 0.2s advantage over Harrison with Rutter still in fifth but with Conor Cummins now up to sixth at the expense of Hillier.

Dunlop added a further second to his lead by the time he reached the Bungalow and an opening lap speed of 132.292mph gave him a 4.2s lead over Hickman who in turn was 3.2s clear of Anstey. Harrison, Rutter and Cummins were holding station in fourth to sixth but Josh Brookes was on the move, going from 12th at Ramsey to eighth at the Grandstand.

At Glen Helen on lap 2 Dunlop had increased his lead by two more seconds and Harrison was now up to third with Anstey dropping back to fourth despite leading on the road and having a clear track. Rutter was still fifth but Hillier had moved back ahead of Cummins for sixth.

By Ramsey, Dunlop was still leading by 6s as him and Hickman practically matched each other every mile. Harrison was losing a bit of time in third but he was pulling away from Anstey who was extending his advantage over Rutter. Hillier was still sixth but just 2.4s covered him, Cummins and Brookes.

Coming into the pits at the end of the lap and Dunlop’s lead was now 9.2s after lapping at 132.903mph with Hickman in second and Harrison third, the latter having lapped at 131.838mph. Anstey was out though at Bedstead with the top six now completed by Rutter, Hillier and Cummins. Brookes was up to seventh having done his first 130mph+ lap around the Mountain Course at 130.551mph.

The lead was down slightly at Glen Helen on lap three to 7.7s as Hillier took over fourth from Rutter with Brookes moving up to sixth and by Ballaugh, Hickman had reduced the deficit to Dunlop further to 7.3s. However, through Ramsey for the third time and the Northern Irishman had got the gap back up to 8.5s.

Indeed, going into the fourth and final lap, the 28-year old was 10.6s clear of Hickman and he duly came home for his 15th TT win, his eventual winning margin being 13.3s.

Hickman made it five podiums from five starts with Harrison repeating his third place finish from Sunday’s RST Superbike race, aided by his first ever 132mph lap on lap four. Hillier and Rutter ended their strong weeks in fourth and fifth, the gap between the duo just 0.64s at the chequered flag.

The battle for sixth also went all the way to the end with Brookes, who lapped at 130.883mph fourth time around edging out Norton team-mate David Johnson. Cummins, Martin Jessopp, who recorded his first 130mph lap, and William Dunlop completed the top ten.

The results meant that Hickman won the Joey Dunlop Championship with 76 points based on cumulative results from the RST Superbike, Monster Energy Supersport, RL360 Quantum Superstock and PokerStars Senior TT Races with Hutchinson second (61) and Dunlop third (60).

Jamie Coward was the first privateer home in an excellent 11th place with Daley Mathison next home in 13th but Horst Saiger’s 18th saw him clinch the TT Privateer’s Championship. He finished with 71 points with Coward in second on 63.

Road racing – Martin refuses to race new Fireblade in Senior

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In a move that surprises nobody, Guy Martin has refused to race the new Fireblade in this year’s Senior TT race.

The maverick Lincolnshire rider suffered a big crash after finding a ‘box full of neutrals’ on the racebike earlier in the week, a move which clearly left Martin visibly shook up.

A normally vocal Martin was unusually quiet following the incident, towing the official Honda line and allowing Honda Racing manager Jonny Twelvetrees to do the talking.

The island rumour mill was rife with report that the team had packed up and gone home, but that speculation proved to be unfounded, and instead the gossip focused on whether Martin would race or not.

And today Martin revealed his hand: “I came back to the TT this year to race and try to win with Honda Racing. I’ve done loads of testing and the team have been flat out, before we got here and at the event. But we’re not doing the times needed to be competitive here, we need more time to set up the bike and doing six laps will not achieve what we set out to do and I’ve always reckoned this is not the place to be out riding just to make up the numbers, so as a team we agreed it wasn’t right competing in the Senior TT. With the weather and my crash I’ve done plenty of tea drinking and dog walking.”

His team manager Jonny Twelvetrees revealed that the bike was ready, and that the decision not to race was martin’s. He said: “We’re disappointed not to be taking part in today’s Senior TT, a decision that is ultimately due to a lack of track time for Guy on the Fireblade. We came here to race and everyone in the team – who have worked extremely hard over the last few months – was looking forward to seeing what the new bike could do. Guy informed me that he wouldn’t race in the Senior, which is a tough decision to make but one I can understand given the lack of practice we’ve had.

“The good news is that Guy has told me that even though the TT hasn’t worked out, he’s keen to take part in the Southern 100 next month and try to get the most from the Fireblade there.”

Road racing – Rutter wins Lightweight TT

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Michael Rutter took his first TT win since 2013, and his fifth in total, when he won the Lightweight TT race at the 2017 Isle of Man TT races, giving the Italian Paton manufacturer their first ever win around the Mountain Course. He set a new lap record of 118.645mph (1:16.19.324), beating Ivan Lintin’s time for the four lap race from last year.

Rutter took the lead from the beginning of the race and was never caught, eventually beating Martin Jessopp (Riders Motorcycles Kawasaki) by 8.8s with Peter Hickman taking yet another TT podium this week in third, this time on the KMR/IEG Kawasaki.

Rutter led through Glen Helen on the opening lap from his Paton team-mate Stefano Bonetti, the gap just one second with Jessopp only fourth tenths of a second further back in third. 2015 and 2016 race winner Ivan Lintin slotted into third ahead of Daniel Cooper and Hickman.

Passing through Ramsey first time around, Rutter had increased his lead slightly to 3.4s with Bonetti still holding onto second some 2.1s clear of Jessopp. Lintin was a further 2.9s back in fourth as Hickman moved up to fifth ahead of Cooper.

An opening lap of 118.955mph gave Rutter a 4.4s lead over Bonetti but Jessopp was now only one second behind as he looked to better this third place from last year’s race. Lintin was still in fourth but now 4.6s behind Jessopp as Hickman and Cooper maintained fifth and sixth.

Rutter added a further half second to his lead on the run to Glen Helen but it was Jessopp who was now up to second as Bonetti battled on track with Hickman and James Cowton. There was also a change in sixth as Michael Dunlop moved ahead of Cooper.

Coming into the pits for the fuel stop, a superb second lap of 120.362mph enabled Rutter to pull further clear, his lead now 10.5s from Jessopp as Bonetti’s good run ended with retirement at the Creg ny Baa. Lintin had a small advantage over Hickman and Cooper who was now up to fifth as Dunlop dropped back to seventh.

However, a helmet change by Lintin lost him valuable time whilst Rutter also lost time at the pits and, sure enough, through Glen Helen on lap three his lead over Jessopp was down to 2.8s. Hickman moved up to third at Lintin’s expense with Cooper in fifth and Cowton up to sixth.

Rutter immediately responded and almost doubled his lead on the high speed run to Ballaugh, his advantage going back up to 5.4s. Meanwhile, Hickman was now looking secure in third with a gap of over 21 seconds to Lintin but Gary Johnson was out of luck with his second retirement of the day.

At the head of the field, Rutter was pressing on ahead and going into the fourth and final lap, he’d increased his lead to 7.9s and was only a few machines length behind Jessopp on the road. Hickman was over 25 seconds behind in third with similar gaps between Lintin, Cooper and Dunlop but newcomer Adam McLean was forced to retire from an excellent ninth at Ballaugh.

Rutter had no such problems and, circulating with Jessopp on the road, he took the win by 8.8s with the latter securing his second TT podium and best ever result. Hickman’s stunning week continued with his fourth podium from four starts, giving team owner and former race winner Ryan Farquhar plenty to celebrate.

Lintin was unable to make it three in a row and had to settle for fourth as Cooper got his best TT result in fifth with Brookes doing the same in sixth. Riding the second KMR/IEG Kawasaki, he relegated Dunlop to seventh on the final lap with Cowton, Michael Sweeney and last year’s Manx Grand Prix winner Jamie Hodson rounding out the top ten.

Road racing – Hutchy claims second TT win of the week

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Ian Hutchinson made it three Superstock wins in a row, and his second victory of this year’s Isle of Man TT races, when he dominated Wednesday’s race – his 16th TT wins in total.

The Tyco BMW rider led from start to finish to take the win from Peter Hickman by 22.4s while there was joy for the Manx contingent with Dan Kneen taking his maiden TT podium in third.

Riders were warned of cross winds at Crosby Hill and damp patches at Ginger Hall, Ramsey Hairpin and Hillberry ahead of the race.

Michael Rutter led through Glen Helen on the opening lap by one second from Hutchinson with Hickman only three tenths of a second further back. There was disappointment though for James Hillier who was an early retirement at Ballacraine.

By Ballaugh, Hutchinson had inched ahead and rounding Ramsey Hairpin for the first time, his advantage over Rutter was 1.3s. Hickman was still third a further 1.5s back as Kneen, Dean Harrison and Michael Dunlop rounded out the top six.

As they flashed past the Grandstand for the first time, an opening lap of 131.109mph gave Hutchinson a 4.5s lead over new second placed rider Hickman with Rutter now in third, only 0.17s behind his fellow BMW rider, but ahead of Kneen, Harrison and Dunlop. The first four riders all lapped in excess of 130mph, Kneen setting a new personal best lap, but Bruce Anstey, Conor Cummins and Gary Johnson all retired at the pits.

Through Glen Helen on lap two and the gap was down slightly to 4.1s as Hickman opened up a two-second margin over Rutter. Kneen was well in contention for the final podium spot being just 1.5s behind Rutter. Good rides were also coming from Jamie Coward in ninth and Shaun Anderson in tenth.

At the head of the field, and leading on the roads, Hutchinson was piling on the coals and by Ramsey he’d stretched his lead to a slightly more comfortable 7.8s over Hickman. Kneen was now in third though having turned his deficit to a 3.3s advantage over Rutter. Harrison and Dunlop remained in fifth and sixth.

Coming into the pit stop, Hutchinson had lapped at 130.673mph on his second lap and changed his rear wheel as well as making a slight change to his front suspension setting. His lead over Hickman was still only 6.7s with Kneen now 5.8s further back. Rutter had slipped to five seconds behind Kneen with Harrison and Dunlop still in fifth and sixth. Coward, the leading privateer, remained in ninth, with Horst Saiger in tenth.

Despite the wheel change, Hutchinson’s lead had doubled as he went through Glen Helen on lap three, the gap now 13.6s. Hickman, in turn, was over ten seconds clear of Kneen but Rutter, in fourth, was coming under extreme pressure from Dunlop, the difference between the two just 0.2s. Indeed, he’d nosed ahead by the time they reached Ballaugh Bridge.

Heading into the final lap, Hutchinson’s lead over Hickman was down slightly to 12.4s with Kneen holding onto a comfortable third but Rutter had gone back ahead of Dunlop by 3.5s.

There was to be no final lap drama for Hutchinson though and with the fastest lap of the race on the final lap, 131.639mph, he swept to yet another TT win from Hickman by a commanding 22.4s with Kneen making it an all BMW rostrum in third.

The battle for fourth went all the way but Rutter held on by 1.1s with Harrison overhauling Dunlop for fifth on the final run over the Mountain. William Dunlop took seventh as David Johnson, Coward and Saiger completed the top ten.
Hutchinson’s victory moved him to 61 points at the top of the Joey Dunlop Championship with Hickman still in second (56) and Michael Dunlop and Kneen up to joint third (35).

Meanwhile, Coward’s ninth place saw him be the first privateer home but Saiger’s tenth place has seen him extend his lead in the TT Privateer’s Championship. He has 58 points with Sam West (43) in second and Coward (38) third.

Road racing – Dunlop wins Supersport Race One and takes 14th TT victory

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Michael Dunlop took his 14th Isle of Man TT victory after winning the four-lap Supersport race by 13.2 seconds from James Hillier.

The Northern Ireland rider overhauled Hillier half way round the first lap but it was only on the final lap that he pulled clear as he took his first 600cc win since 2014. Peter Hickman took third for his second TT podium in as many days and set the fastest lap of the race on the final lap at 126.848mph.

Overnight conditions led to a delay of just over two hours 15 minutes but the race finally got underway shortly after 1pm with riders warned of damp patches at Ramsey Hairpin, the Nook and Governor’s Dip. And, as in Sunday’s Superbike race, Hillier on the JG Speedfit Kawasaki was again quickest on the first nine mile run to Glen Helen.

His advantage over William Dunlop (Caffrey International Yamaha) was only 0.4s with Michael Dunlop (MD Racing Yamaha) just 0.01s behind his brother. Gary Johnson, Dean Harrison and Peter Hickman completed the top six with Sunday’s Superbike TT winner Ian Hutchinson back in seventh.

By Ramsey Hairpin, Dunlop had taken over the lead but it was still extremely tight – his advantage over Hillier just 0.09s. William Dunlop was a further 1.5s back in third as Johnson, Harrison and Hickman held onto their top six positions.

Hillier had re-taken the lead by the time the riders swept through the Bungalow and an opening lap of 124.743mph gave him a slender 0.397s lead over Michael Dunlop as Harrison moved up to third. William Dunlop dropped back to fourth with Johnson in fifth and Hutchinson moving up to sixth as 9.6s covered the top six.

However, by Glen Helen on lap two, Dunlop was 1.8s clear of Hillier with William Dunlop now up to third after Harrison retired at Ballacraine with a broken gear lever. That promoted Johnson up to fourth, Hutchinson fifth and Hickman sixth.

Through Ramsey second time around and Dunlop had eked out his advantage to 3.2s with brother William still in third but now 10s behind Hillier. Hickman (Trooper Beer Triumph) had overhauled Hutchinson for fourth while Johnson was only 0.1s behind the McAMS Yamaha rider in sixth.

At half race distance, and coming into the pits for fuel, Dunlop’s lead was down to 2.4s with a second lap speed of 126.015mph and it now looked a two-horse race between him and Hillier with William Dunlop now a further 15.8s adrift in third.

Hickman had closed to within 4.5s as Hutchinson remained in fifth. Dan Kneen was sixth coming into the pits but a 60s penalty, for going down pit lane in excess of 90kmh, dropped him way down the order.

Jamie Coward’s good run came to an end when he retired while eighth but at Glen Helen on the third lap, Hillier had reduced Dunlop’s lead to 1.8s while William Dunlop had pulled back an extra second over Hickman.

Dunlop had an excellent run from Glen Helen to Ballaugh, doubling his lead and by Ramsey, had increased it further still to 5.9s. As his lead was extending, the fight for the final podium position was intensifying and Hickman had nosed ahead of William Dunlop as they started their final lap.

The final 37.73 miles around the Mountain Course saw Dunlop finally pull clear and he eventually took the chequered flag by 13.2s. Hillier took his tenth TT podium in second with Hickman having another excellent ride and retaining third.

William Dunlop had to settle for fourth with Ian Hutchinson an unusually distant fifth after dominating the class in both 2015 and 2016 – his run of 11 successive podium finishes ending. Johnson completed the top six ahead of Bruce Anstey. Kneen fought his way back up to eighth as Conor Cummins and James Cowton rounded out the top ten.

The results mean that Hutchinson and Hickman are now tied at the top of the Joey Dunlop TT Championship on 36 points with Hillier only three points behind in third.

Road racing – Hutchy takes superbike win in opening TT race

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Ian Hutchinson took his 15th victory at the Isle of Man TT races when he took a thrilling Superbike race on Sunday afternoon by five seconds from Peter Hickman, after Hickman had closed the gap down to 1.6s on the final lap.

Hutchinson’s final run over the Mountain on the Tyco BMW saw him edge clear from Hickman’s Smiths Racing machine, who claimed his maiden TT podium, with early race leader Dean Harrison taking third.

James Hillier (JG Speedfit Kawasaki) led at Glen Helen on the opening lap by 0.8s from Harrison with Hutchinson and Michael Dunlop tied for third but on the run to Ramsey Hairpin, Harrison was 1.3s quicker to turn his deficit into a lead of 0.5s. Dunlop was now in third, 0.7s behind Hillier, with Hutchinson, Hickman and Conor Cummins completing the top six. The returning Guy Martin on the Honda Racing machine was out though having crashed courtesy of ‘a boxful of false neutrals’, fortunately without injury, at Doran’s Bend.

By the Bungalow, Dunlop was now in the lead and with an opening lap of 131.135mph he led Harrison by 1.8s. Harrison in turn was only half a second ahead of Hillier with Hutchinson and Hickman holding onto fourth and fifth.  The leading five were all above 130mph with Dan Kneen up to sixth on the opening lap.

Second time around and Dunlop still led at Glen Helen but Harrison was quicker over the first nine miles to reduce the gap to 1.4s and by the time the riders passed through Ballaugh, he was leading Hillier by 5.3s with Dunlop and the Bennetts Suzuki out after retiring at Handley’s.

At Ramsey, Harrison’s extended his lead to 7.5s but Hutchinson was now up into second although he was only 0.4s clear of Hillier and at the Bungalow the latter had turned the tables, also reducing Harrison’s lead to 6.5s.

A second lap speed of 130.907mph meant Harrison’s lead was 5.4s at the pit stop with Hillier still in second and 1.6s clear of new third placed man Hickman. Hutchinson had dropped back to fourth but Hillier lost time getting away. The Manx pairing of Cummins and Kneen were now in fifth and sixth but they too had trouble at the pits with Cummins having a lengthy stop and Kneen picking up a 30s speeding penalty.

Early on the third lap, the leaderboard read Harrison, Hutchinson, Hickman and Hillier as Kneen dropped back to ninth and Cummins 17th and that meant David Johnson moved up to fifth on the Norton and Michael Rutter sixth.

By half race distance, Hutchinson led for the first time but only by 0.4s and only ten and a half seconds covered the top four with Hickman and Hillier holding station in third and fourth. Johnson and Rutter were still in fifth and sixth as Kneen, Bruce Anstey, William Dunlop and Brookes completed the top ten.

On lap four, there was little between the leaders. Harrison moved back into the lead at Glen Helen by 0.6s, the same margin at the next point through Ballaugh. However, by Ramsey Hutchinson was marginally back in front with just 0.07s separating the leading pair. Hickman was only five seconds further back in third but Anstey stopped at Ramsey hairpin before continuing and Steve Mercer and Gary Johnson were out at Cruickshanks and Sulby Bridge respectively.

Coming into the pits at the end of lap four and there was still only ten seconds covering the leading quartet but Hutchinson’s prowess up and down the Mountain gave him a 4s lead and it was now Hickman in second. His gap to Harrison was only 1.6s with Hillier a further four seconds back in fourth.

The pit stops saw Hutchinson lead with a 10s lead over Hickman but Hillier was back up to third with Harrison losing time and dropping back to fourth. Indeed, Hillier was up to second at Glen Helen as he circulated on the road with Hutchinson and the latter’s lead had risen considerably to 9.5s. Two more retirements though were Cummins and last year’s Privateer’s Champion Dan Hegarty.

Going into the final lap, Hutchinson still led but the gap to Hickman was only 7.9s at Glen Helen and by Ballaugh it was only 2.5s. Harrison was now in third as Hillier experienced fuel problems and the thrilling race still saw just 9.5s split the top four.

Hickman had reduced the gap further still at Ramsey Hairpin to 1.6s and it was all going to come down to the final run up and down the Mountain. And with a final lap of 130.738mph, it was Hutchinson who prevailed by 5s despite Hickman the quicker over the final 37.73 miles at 131.103mph.

Harrison claimed third ahead of Hillier with Kneen overcoming his pit lane penalty to take fifth from Rutter albeit by only 0.135s. Johnson, Brookes, William Dunlop and Martin Jessopp completed the top ten.

Horst Saiger was the first privateer home in 11th ahead of Sam West (12th) and Philip Crowe (14th).

Road racing – Hutchinson and Anstey top of the pile in practice

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Conditions were finally perfect for qualifying at the 2017 Isle of Man races, fuelled by Monster Energy, and Ian Hutchinson and Bruce Anstey set the pace with both averaging laps of over 129mph.

Hutchinson’s lap of 129.535mph came on his Superstock BMW after stopping at Governor’s Bridge on his opening lap on the Superbike with Anstey posting a time of 129.212mph on the RC213-VS Padgetts Honda.

Hutchinson was first to leave the line at 6.23pm alongside Peter Hickman on the Smiths Racing Superstock BMW. Gary Johnson and James Hillier, Steve Mercer and Lee Johnston and Dan Kneen and Michael Dunlop quickly followed the opening pair down Glencrutchery Road.

Kneen was reported to have stopped at Quarter Bridge but he was soon back out on his Superstock mount while the Norton pairing of David Johnson and Josh Brookes were out of luck, retiring at the Bottom of Barregarrow and Ballaugh respectively.

Hickman was first to complete a lap with 128.028mph but Hutchinson had stopped at Governor’s. Johnson and Hillier had no such problems, and both were above the 127mph mark. Dunlop was quickest on the lap though with an opening lap of 128.576mph with Hillier, Conor Cummins, Michael Rutter, Dean Harrison and Bruce Anstey also over 127mph.

On the second lap Hickman was slightly slower at 127.63mph but Anstey had upped the pace considerably to 129.212mph, which made him the evening’s quickest Superbike. Mercer and Rutter were over 125mph but further back on the road, Hutchinson was getting back in the groove and sure enough a lap of 129.535mph not only made him the fastest Superstock machine but also the fastest on the night.

Kneen’s good week in the Superstock class continued with a lap of 127.23mph but this was upstaged on the third lap by Rutter and Harrison who lapped at 128.588mph and 128.477mph respectively to go second and third in the Superstock class behind Hutchinson.

Meanwhile, the newcomers were also making good progress with Adam McLean putting in a superb lap at 119.06mph. Paul Jordan jumped up to 114.88mph with Joey Thompson on 112.91mph.

Just after 7.10pm, the 1000cc machines were short lapped and the course became the sole domain of the Supersport and Lightweight machines. Hutchinson set the initial pace on the McAMS Yamaha at 123.19mph but this was bettered by Harrison on the Silicone Engineering Kawasaki with a speed of 123.323mph.

However, towards the end of the session, Michael Dunlop just edged out Harrison with a speed of 123.325mph but the Bradford rider wasn’t to be outdone and a 124.35mph lap sent him to the top of the leaderboard. Hillier slotted into fourth at 122.93 with Hickman, Cummins, Jamie Coward, William Dunlop, Anstey and Kneen also above 121mph.

In the Lightweight class, Italian Stefano Bonetti set the fastest lap of the week to date with a speed of 115.69mph on the Paton with Rutter, also on a Paton, on 114.28mph. Hickman on the KMR/IEG Kawasaki, was second with a lap of 114.86mph from Dan Cooper (114.79) and Lee Johnston (114.73).

Steve Mercer was reported to have had an accident at the 11th milestone and was taken by airmed to Nobles with what were initially described as minor injuries while Frank Gallagher suffered broken teeth at the Gooseneck and was taken back to the paddock in a course car.

After a short delay due to the incidents in the solo’s session, the Formula Two Sidecars were back out on the Mountain Course at 8.10pm with Ben and Tom Birchall leading the field away only to retire at Crosby.

That gave Dave Molyneux/Dan Sayle a clear road and their opening lap of 113.001mph was just over 1mph quicker than Tim Reeves/Mark Wilkes on 111.999mph. Karl Bennett/Maxime Vasseur (109.51), Alan Founds/Jake Lowther (109.04), Lewis Blackstock/Patrick Rosney (107.95) and Estelle Leblond/Melanie Farnier (106.59).

Second time around and the leading duo both upped their pace but Molyneux/Sayle held onto the top spot with the fastest lap of the week at 114.74mph. Reeves/Wilkes weren’t too far behind though and improved to 114.35mph, the fastest ever lap by a newcomer passenger albeit unofficially. John Holden/Lee Cain got a clear run on their second lap with a speed of 112.085mph putting them third quickest.

Some of the TT Zero machines opted for an early look at the track at the end of the evening and the Mugen pair of Anstey (109.520) and Martin (108.413) were predictably quickest.

Road racing – TT 2017 is go!

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After a frustrating and wet start to the 2017 Isle of Man TT races, qualifying finally got underway on Tuesday evening and last year’s headline makers – Ian Hutchinson and Michael Dunlop – immediately took up where they left off last year, setting the pace with 125mph+ laps.

Intermittent afternoon rain resulted in a number of damp patches around the 37.73-mile course, most notably at Greeba, on the approach to Glen Helen and in Governor’s Dip, but conditions were otherwise good with bright sunshine and blue skies at the start and finish of the session. It was a prompt start too as the three newcomers – Adam McLean, Paul Jordan and Joey Thompson – headed off down Glencrutchery Road slightly before the 6.20pm start.

After the sidecar newcomers left the line for their speed controlled lap, there was a slight gap before the session proper fired into life with Bruce Anstey on the Padgetts Honda first away just before 6.35pm with James Hillier, Ian Hutchinson, Josh Brookes and Lee Johnston on their Supersport mounts following the Kiwi rider down Glencrutchery Road.

Ivan Lintin, Peter Hickman and Michael Rutter were also among the early starters on their Lightweight machines while the returning Guy Martin set off slightly later on his Supersport Honda as he got his first taste of the Mountain Course on closed roads since the 2015 Senior TT.

Hutchinson, on the McAMS Yamaha, was first to complete a lap at 118.845mph with Michael Dunlop second across the line and quickest on the opening lap of TT2017 at 120.371mph. Gary Johnson was also above the 120mph mark at 120.311mph, just over half a second slower than Dunlop.

Hutchinson’s lap made him third quickest ahead of Dean Harrison and Jamie Coward (both 118.160), Hillier (117.884) and Conor Cummins (117.673). Martin’s first lap was a solid 115.808mph with Brookes back on 108.171mph. Meanwhile, Dan Kneen was reported as having stopped at Cronk y Voddy although he was able to proceed.

Second time out and Hutchinson and Dunlop both lapped in excess of 121mph, at 121.147 and 121.020 respectively. Anstey and Hillier were next with 119.794 and 119.776 respectively while Johnson was slightly slower on his second lap at 119.341. Martin improved to 117.092mph. McLean was the fastest newcomer with a fastest lap of 112.89mph.

Rutter was quickest in the Lightweight class with a speed of 113.946 on the Paton from Lintin (113.856) with Dan Cooper, Hickman and Stefano Bonetti all inside the 111mph lap barrier.

At 7.10pm it was the turn of the 1000cc machines with David Johnson first away on the Norton. The Aussie hasn’t got a Supersport bike at his disposal so waited slightly longer than other riders for his first laps of 2017.

Steve Mercer lapped at 120.906mph with Hillier (120.986) and Rutter (120.986) slightly quicker but it was that man Dunlop who was laying an early marker down on the Bennetts Suzuki and a speed of 125.680mph sent him comfortably to the top of the leaderboard.

Hutchinson cruised across the line with a lap of 122.704mph but this was only good enough for fourth as Dan Kneen slotted into second on the Penz13.com BMW with a fine lap of 124.642mph. Dean Harrison (122.853) moved up to third with Peter Hickman (121.472) and Lee Johnston (121.322) completing the top six while Guy Martin’s opening lap on the Superbike saw him post a speed of 118.739mph.

There were changes later in the session though and although Dunlop broke the 125mph barrier once more, Hutchinson took the first night honours with the fastest lap on the night with a speed of 125.839mph. Hickman (124.093) jumped up to fourth although Rutter’s lap of 124.117mph made him quickest in the Superstock class from Anstey (123.722).

Harrison looked like he would make a significant impression but he retired at the Mountain Box while Martin broke the 120mph barrier with a speed of (120.018).

Today’s qualify session is scheduled to get away at 18.20 (Superbikes, Superstock, Supersport, Newcomers (ex Lightweight) to 19.20 with Supersport, Lightweight and Newcomers all classes away from 19.20 to 19.50.