Anstey sets early markers at 2015 IOM TT

Michael Dunlop splits with Milwaukee Yamaha to ride his own BMW
Dave Johnson tops Superstock

By Trevor Hedge (with inclusions from TT organisers)

The skies may have cleared above the Isle of Man for the first official timed practices to get underway but their were dark clouds gathering over the Milwaukee Yamaha tent.

Sources contacted us overnight from the Isle of Man suggesting that Michael Dunlop, who was a little off the pace in Superbike, and failed to complete a lap today on the Milwaukee Yamaha Superstock machine, is contemplating riding his own BMW in the TT SBK/STK races.

We believe Yamaha are still working on an amenable solution to retain Dunlop on the YZF-R1, but as of last night, Dunlop was telling numerous sources that he was going to compete on his own BMW.

Michael Dunlop obviously frustrated that his Milwaukee Yamaha Superbike was demonstrably slower in speed than many Superstock machines ridden by other riders during the mixed sessions. Mooted plans include Dunlop switching to the BMW Superstock bike he rode last year, and the Honda CBR600R Supersport machine from 2014. For his Superbike plans, paddock chatter suggests that bringing Ryuichi Kiyonari’s BSB Superbike to the IOM for Dunlop to race in the premier class is a possibility…

Update – As the British press woke up some eight hours after we posted this report, Michael Dunlop’s switch to BMW has been officially confirmed. 

Milwaukee Yamaha have now released this statement

Milwaukee Yamaha has today (Thursday), released Michael Dunlop from his contract with immediate effect. Milwaukee Yamaha its staff and sponsors have worked tirelessly to prepare a race winning package especially with the introduction of the new R1M. The development of the bike is advancing well testament to results on the short circuit worldwide. Despite having all the ingredients for TT success, rider, bike and team, Michael has taken the decision not to continue with the programme and for that reason we have released him from his contract. Milwaukee Yamaha will continue to focus on its MCE British Superbike Championship campaign.

TT Organisers released this statement

Michael Dunlop is switching back to the BMW bikes that he raced at last year’s TT, on which he won three races including his historic Senior TT victory. The Northern Ireland rider will now be riding for Stuart Hicken’s Swadlincote based Buildbase BMW team in the RST Superbike Race, which is scheduled for Saturday 6th June, and the PokerStars Senior TT Race the following Friday 12th June.

He will also be riding his own MD Racing BMW in Monday’s RL360 Superstock Race and will contest the two Monster Energy Supersport Races on his MD Racing Honda.

Commenting on the decision, Michael Dunlop said: “I would like to thank Milwaukee Yamaha for their support in bringing me into their team and I am genuinely sorry to be making this decision but unfortunately I don’t think there is enough time left with the sessions we’ve already lost at the TT to be truly competitive and get the bike to the level we need to in order to win races here.”

The 11-time TT race winner will be looking to get the most possible track time ahead of Saturday’s races and will be appearing on the BMW’s in this evening’s qualifying session, which will be only the second timed Superbike qualifying session of the week.

Isle of Man TT 2015 - Practice - Michael Dunlop - Yamaha
Isle of Man TT 2015 – Practice – Michael Dunlop – Yamaha

The solo session had got underway at 1822 Wednesday evening with Michael Rutter and Dan Kneen first to leave the line with both, like the majority of the front runners, eager to put in as many laps as possible on their Superbike machines.

Guy Martin, James Hillier, Bruce Anstey, Gary Johnson, Ian Hutchinson, Ivan Lintin, Ryan Farquhar, Keith Amor and Cameron Donald followed in quick succession with Lintin the exception to the norm on his Supersport mount.

Martin was first to complete a lap at 127.277 but Hutchinson was quickest at 127.967. Johnson was the only other rider over 127mph but Anstey, Hillier and John McGuinness were all over 126mph with Conor Cummins and Rutter both over 125mph.

The two Dunlops both pitted with Donald switching to his Supersport machine but the majority of riders went straight through and it was Anstey who posted the best lap at 128.641 as he overhauled Hutchinson on the road, the latter lapping at 128mph also.

Isle of Man TT 2015 - Practice - Bruce Anstey- Honda Superbike
Isle of Man TT 2015 – Practice – Bruce Anstey- Honda Superbike

McGuinness got closest to Anstey’s lap though with a speed of 128.596mph with Rutter and Cummins also impressing with 127mph+ laps. Meanwhile, Jamie Hamilton, David Johnson and Lee Johnston were all over 125mph. Last year’s Junior Manx Grand Prix winner Andy Lawson was also going well with a 122mph+ lap.

The majority of the riders switched machines for their third laps and Anstey went to the top of the Supersport leaderboard with a lap of 123.388mph ahead of Ivan Lintin (121.39) and Russ Mountford (121.15). Hutchinson continued on his Superbike though and recorded another 127mph+ lap but Michael Dunlop’s second lap was only 124.519mph and he then encountered trouble with his Milwaukee Yamaha Superstock mount, stopping at Greeba Castle. This incident perhaps the final straw in simmering tensions between Dunlop and the Yamaha squad. 

Cameron Donald only managed one lap on the Norton Superbike but it was a respectable 120.741mph lap for 29th quickest.

Superbike Wednesday Fastest Laps
  1. Bruce Anstey – Honda – 128.641
  2. John McGuinness – Honda – 128.596
  3. Ian Hutchinson – Kawasaki – 128.300
  4. Guy Martin -BMW – 127.453
  5. Conor Cummins – Honda – 127.388
  6. Michael Rutter – BMW – 127.268
  7. Gary Johnson – Kawasaki – 127.257
  8. James Hillier – Kawasaki – 126.108
  9. Jamie Hamtilon – Suzuki – 125.572
  10. Keith Amor – BMW – 125.487
  11. Lee Johnston – BMW – 125.169
  12. Dan Kneen – Honda – 124.870
  13. Michael Dunlop – Yamaha – 124.519
  14. Ryan Kneen – Kawasaki – 124.401
  15. Dean Harrison – Yamaha – 124.129
Isle of Man TT 2015 - Practice - Cameron Donald - Honda Supersport
Isle of Man TT 2015 – Practice – Cameron Donald – Honda Supersport

Michael Dunlop did get back out on his 600cc Yamaha as did many of the other riders and Anstey went quicker at 125.218 with Martin and Gary Johnson slotting into second and third at 123.082 and 121.678 respectively. Indeed, many got five laps in as they took full advantage of the good conditions.

Supersport Wednesday Fastest Laps
  1. Bruce Anstey – Honda – 125.218
  2. Guy Martin – Triumph – 123.082
  3. Gary Johnson – Yamaha – 121.687
  4. William Dunlop – 121.651
  5. Russ Mountford – Triumph – 121.515
  6. Michael Dunlop – Yamaha – 121.458
  7. Dean Harrison – Yamaha – 121.415
  8. Lee Johnston – Triumph – 121.396
  9. Ivan Lintin – Kawasaki – 121.394
  10. John McGuinness – Honda – 121.348
  11. James Cowton – Honda – 120.479
  12. David Johnson – Triumph – 120.010
Isle of Man TT 2015 - Practice - David Johnson - BMW Superstock
Isle of Man TT 2015 – Practice – David Johnson – BMW Superstock

Australian David Johnson topped the 1000 Superstock session with a 125.182mph circuit on the Smiths Racing BMW to head off Michael Rutter at the top of the timesheets.

David Johnson – “The BMW S1000RR Superstock bike feels fantastic. Straight out the box it is a fantastic motorcycle. I set off with the Superbikes at the start of the session and I stayed with them on the road and even gained on some of them. I had some minor issues with fuel surge on my second (fastest) lap so I am confident that I am able to improve when this issue is rectified. The Triumph Daytona 675R feels really good and the stability is excellent. I have some work to do on this within myself. I need to learn how to ride the Triumph properly. The team will go through some data with me and from that we’ll be able to see ways in which we can improve. The Superbike has been changed a lot since yesterday and we have definitely taken a step in the right direction. We have more electrical changes to changes to make for tomorrow but I am confident that we will get there by the end of the week.”

Superstock 1000 Wednesday Fastest Laps
  1. David Johnson – BMW – 125.182
  2. Michael Rutter – BMW – 124.938
  3. John McGuinness – Honda – 124.832
  4. Guy Martin – BMW – 124.625
  5. James Hillier – Kawasaki – 124.466
  6. Ryan Kneen – Kawasaki – 124.401
  7. Lee Johnson – BMW – 123.795
  8. Dan Kneen – Honda – 123.578
  9. Bruce Anstey – Honda – 123.350
  10. Keith Amor – BMW – 123.214
John McGuinness on his own Superstock Honda Fireblade
John McGuinness on his own Superstock Honda Fireblade

David Johnson’s great start to the event was overshadowed by the loss of his previous teammate at the NW200. The serious incident the unfolded at Sulby Crossroads towards the end of the qualifying session in which, we are very sad to report, French rider Franck Petricola lost his life.  Petricola was a regular competitor in the IRRC Championship and enjoyed his best season in 2013 with 11th overall in the Superbike category.  His best result, sixth, came at Chimay and he ended the year strongly with six successive top ten finishes and took a brace of thirds in the Lightweight Races at Horice and Terlicko. He was due to make his TT debut in 2014 but was injured in the North West 200 meeting earlier in the month and was forced to withdraw from last year’s event.  He returned to full fitness and raced at Scarborough and the North West 200 where he finished 25th in the Superstock race and 21st in the Superbike Race.

The F2 Sidecars got their first session underway at 2011 and were led away in numerical order by Dave Molyneux/Ben Binns, Conrad Harrison/Mike Aylott, Ben and Tom Birchall, Tim Reeves/Patrick Farrance and John Holden/Dan Sayle.

Molyneux was the first across the line at 109.888mph but Holden was right in his wheel tracks and comfortably quickest at 112.781mph. The Birchalls were third at 109.221mph but Harrison struck problems and only managed a speed of 99.612mph whilst Reeves failed to complete the lap.

Molyneux improved second time around to 110.44 with Birchall also over 110mph. Newcomer Peter Founds also posted an impressive lap at 100.96.

Following an incident during the sidecar session at Ballaspur, driver Brian Kelly was taken by airmed to Nobles hospital but was reported to be conscious and was confirmed to be OK following assessment while newcomers Terry O’Relly/Aidan Browne were also reported OK after hitting bales at Governors Dip.

Isle of Man TT 2015 - Wednesday Practice - Superbike
Isle of Man TT 2015 – Wednesday Practice – Superbike
Isle of Man TT 2015 - Wednesday Practice - Superstock
Isle of Man TT 2015 – Wednesday Practice – Superstock
Isle of Man TT 2015 - Wednesday Practice - Supersport
Isle of Man TT 2015 – Wednesday Practice – Supersport
Isle of Man TT 2015 - Wednesday Practice - Sidecars
Isle of Man TT 2015 – Wednesday Practice – Sidecars
Isle of Man TT 2015 - Practice - John Holden and Dan Sayle- Sidecars
Isle of Man TT 2015 – Practice – John Holden and Dan Sayle- Sidecars
IOM TT solo lap records
  • TT Superbike – Bruce Anstey (2014) Honda 132.298mph
  • Senior TT – Michael Dunlop (2014) BMW 131.668mph
  • Superstock TT – Michael Dunlop (2013) Honda 131.220mph
  • Junior TT Supersport – Michael Dunlop (2013) Honda 128.666mph
  • Lightweight TT Supertwins – James Hillier (2013) Kawasaki 119.130mph
  • Lightweight TT (250cc) – John McGuinness (1999) 118.29mph
  • TT Zero (electric bikes) – John McGuinness (2014) Mugen 117.366mph
  • Siedecar – Nick Crowe and Dan Sayle (2007) LCR Honda 116.667mph
  • Fastest Newcomer – Peter Hickman (2014) BMW 129.104mph
  • Fastest Female – Jenny Tinmouth (2010) Honda 119.945mph
Most TT wins in all solo classes
  • 26 – Joey Dunlop
  • 21 – John McGuinness
  • 14 – Mike Hailwood
  • 11 – Michael Dunlop, Steve Hislop, Phillip McCallen
  • 10 – Giacomo Agostini, Ian Lougher, Stanley Woods
  • 9 – Bruce Anstey, David Jefferies, Charlie Williams
James Hillier to ride Kawasaki Ninja H2R on demo lap of Mountain Course

James Hillier has a busy TT ahead of him with entries in all bar two classes. Now the 30-year-old Quattro Plant Kawasaki rider has added a lap of the historic course on the new supercharged Ninja H2R to his TT agenda on June 10.

Already one of very few riders to circulate the 37 ¾ mountain course at over 130mph average, Hillier has been invited by Kawasaki Motors UK and the TT festival organisers to ride the 300 plus horsepower machine as part of a Monster Energy parade lap that will also include WSBK riders including Jonathan Rea and Tom Sykes who will be mounted on race replica Ninja ZX-10R machines.

Kawasaki's new super-charged Ninja H2R will be ridden for exhibition by James Hillier
Kawasaki’s new super-charged Ninja H2R will be ridden for exhibition by James Hillier

The exclusive Ninja H2R is one of a very limited production run by Kawasaki that has been created using the company’s unique aerospace and gas turbine technology as well as the enthusiasm of the motorcycle division.

With Supercharged competition motorcycles a long distant memory in TT racing circles, the raucously loud and visually intimidating Ninja H2R is yet another “must see” feature of the 2015 festival.     

“I’ve seen the road going Ninja H2 at Bournemouth Kawasaki where the Quattro Plant team is based but this is something else altogether,” said Hillier, who was trusted to transport the machine to the TT paddock. “I can’t wait to hear the sound echo around the first part of the course and then let it rip up the mountain mile – it’s going to be a mega experience!”