Dunlop Paces Classic TT Qualifying
ISLE OF MAN – A collection of classic motorcycle assembled in pit lane for the start of qualifying for the 2014 Isle of Man Classic TT presented by Bennetts with a host of legendary names taking to the TT Mountain Course on Monday.
The split session saw the F1 and F2 machines on track first, led by TT Rider Liaison Officer John Barton on his ZXR 750 Kawasaki but it was Michael Dunlop, last year’s F1 Race winner, on the Team Classic Suzuki, that was first back with an opening lap of 117.191mph.
Dunlop opted to switch to his 500cc Molnar Manx Norton but his teammate in the F1 Class Lee Johnson moved up the board with a lap of 116.093 with Steve Mercer on the Mistral Racing Kawasaki posting the session’s third fastest lap (115.866). Ian Lougher (106.584) topped the evening’s F2 leaderboard from Roy Richardson (104.864) with Chris Moore (104.831) the third fastest in the class.
John McGuinness, hoping to put the problems he experienced in last year’s Classic TT behind him, clocked an opening lap of 104.599 in the 500cc session on the Team Winfield Paton from Dunlop’s first 500cc lap of 102.962. McGuinness’s second lap (107.652) topped the session from teammate Ryan Farquhar (104.353).
The much-anticipated appearance of the Valvolene Racing by Padgetts Motorcycles Yamaha YZR500, ridden by New Zealander Bruce Anstey, saw the current TT lap record holder get at far as Ramsey before the bike was reported to have stopped, leaving the Kiwi to make a dash back to the grandstand in a vain attempt to get a lap on the McIntosh Norton that he’ll campaign in the 500cc Race.
Michael Rutter, a late replacement for the injured Dan Kneen on the G50 Matchless, only arrived on the Island shortly before the practice began. He broke down near Bishops Court on his opening lap and will be hoping for better luck in tomorrow’s session. Rutter’s busy schedule sees him planning to race in Saturday’s 500cc race before heading to Cadwell Park for the BSB round on Monday.
The session was also notable for eight-time TT race winner Charlie Williams’ first competitive Mountain Course lap since 1984.
In the 350cc session, Alan Oversby was the only rider over 100mph (100.046) from Blackpool’s Roy Richardson (98.759) on the ’68 Aermacchi and Jamie Hamilton.
New Zealand’s legendary America’s Cup skipper Grant Dalton, who also participated in the ‘Whitbread Round the World’ race five times, swapped the ocean for the road and got his first ever Mountain Course laps in the F1 Classic TT qualifying session.
John Barton was reported to have sustained a broken collarbone following an incident at the Creg Ny Baa while Ryan Farquhar, David Burrell, Alec Whitwell and Jared Heath all came off at Governors but all were OK.
After the remaining seven newcomers from Saturday completed the obligatory speed controlled lap, qualifying finally got underway for the IMGold Manx Grand Prix shortly after 6.40pm when Scotland’s Andy Lawson on his GSXR Suzuki powered away from pit lane in the Senior, Junior and SuperTwin session.
Lawson was first back to the grandstand with an opening lap of 115.174, which he followed with a lap of 114.969 but Rob Hodson, from the Wigan racing dynasty, later toped the board with 115.342 on his Junior machine.
Blenheim based Michael Moulai’s 113.704 saw him third overall and second in the Junior class with Loughborough’s Andy Soar who finished runner up in the 2012 Senior MGP as a newcomer, clocking 113.334 to finish third Junior from Paul Smyth who posted an opening lap of 113.420.
Gav Lupton (100.561), Adrian Kershaw (100.045) and Adam Jones (100.016) all posted 100mph plus laps in the Lightweight class while Andrew Farrell (107.179) topped the SuperTwin session from Gary Gittins (107.171) and Joe Phillips (105.314). 1993 F1 TT race winner Nick Jefferies (104.812) was the fourth fastest in the opening qualifying session for the class.