Michael Dunlop second quickest in both Superbike and Supersport
David Johnson starts cautiously on the Norton with a 118.05mph lap
Josh Brookes slowly getting his eye in after a few years away from the TT
BMW have four riders in the top six and half of the top 30 Superbikes are on S 1000 RR
After a frustrating start to the week for the 2017 Isle of Man TT Races fuelled by Monster Energy, 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 whilst 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 PokerStars 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.
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 Gary Johnson was slightly slower on his second lap at 119.341. Martin improved to 117.092mph. McLean was the fastest Supersport 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. Johnson ended the day 28th on the timesheets after a best of 118.05mph. Norton teammate Josh Brookes crossed the line on his second and final circuit of the day to clock a 117.28mph lap.
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 whilst 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).
“It’s a good start. We’re the only team here with a brand-new bike and we’ve started strongly. The boys made some changes after the North West, and we’ve got some work still to do on set-up, but it’s good to finally get our TT underway. It was important to see the bike do laps around here for the first time, but they were two good laps and there’s still more to come.”
Harrison looked like he would make a significant impression but he retired at the Mountain Box whilst Martin broke the 120mph barrier with a speed of (120.018).
At the end of the session it was Ian Hutchison atop the charts from Dunlop, Kneen and Hickman.
BMW’s S 1000RR incredibly popular on the mountain this year, 15 of the top 30 Superbikes are from the German manufacturer.
Of course the TT is ruing that 23-time TT winner John McGuinness is not competing this year. The ‘Morecambe Missile’ has been ruled out of this year’s event due to an injury sustained in a crash at the North West 200.
Jonny Twelvetrees – Honda Racing Team Manager
“It’s a huge blow to the team not having John with us this year – it really won’t be the same without him! The whole focus is now on Guy, the Fireblade and getting everything ready in the very small amount of time we had between the North West 200 and the TT races. We had a final pre-TT test last week and I’m pleased to report it went extremely well. We have made a lot progress in a very short space of time – it’s a real credit to the team and their hard work. The changes we have made seem to be completely in sync with Guy’s riding style, so I think he has improved with the CBR and I hope we can continue with this throughout the TT.”
IOM TT 2017 – Superbike Qualifying – Tuesday, May 30
Ian Hutchinson – BMW 125.83
Michael Dunlop – Suzuki – 125.68
Dan Kneen – BMW – 124.64
Peter Hickman – BMW – 124.093
Steve Mercer – Kawasaki – 123.87
Lee Johnston – BMW – 123.00
Dean Harrison – Kawasaki – 122.85
Daniel Hegarty – Honda – 122.58
Gary Johnson – Suzuki – 122.08
Ivan Lintin – Kawasaki – 121.82
James Cowton – Kawasaki – 121.63
William Dunlop – Yamaha – 121.61
Jamie Coward – BMW – 121.23
Dan Stewart – BMW – 121.15
James Hillier – Kawasaki – 120.98
Michael Rutter – BMW – 120.97
Martin Jessop – BMW – 120.96
Derek Sheils – Suzuki – 120.96
Guy Martin – Honda – 120.01
Rob Hodson – BMW – 119.87
Stefano Bonetti – BMW – 119.70
Alan Bonner – BMW – 119.56
Andrew Dudgeon – Kawasaki – 119.91
Dominic Herbertson – BMW – 118.90
Daley Mathison – BMW – 118.19
Michael Sweeney – BMW – 118.11
Danny Webb – BMW – 118.11
David Johnson – Norton – 118.05
Horst Saiger – Kawasaki – 117.58
Josh Brookes – Norton – 117.28
IOM TT 2017 – Supersport Qualifying – Tuesday, May 30
Ian Hutchinson – Yamaha – 121.14
Michael Dunlop – Yamaha – 121.02
Gary Johnson – Triumph – 120.31
Bruce Anstey – Honda – 119.79
James Hillier – Kawasaki – 119.77
Jamie Coward – Honda – 118.97
William Dunlop – Yamaha – 118.78
Dan Kneen – Honda – 118.73
Lee Johnston – Honda – 118.38
Dean Harrison – Kawasaki – 118.35
IOM TT 2017 – Lightweight Qualifying – Tuesday, May 30
Michael Rutter – Paton – 113.94
Ivan Lintin – Kawasaki – 113.85
Daniel Cooper – Kawasaki – 111.83
Peter Hickman – Kawasaki – 111.60
Stefano Bonetti – Paton – 111.34
Just after 8pm it was the turn of the F2 Sidecars and it was local heroes Dave Molyneux/Dan Sayle who set the pace with a lap of 110.913mph, which was just quicker than Pete Founds/Jevan Walmsley (110.427). An impressive lap came from Tim Reeves with newcomer passenger Mark Wilkes, the duo lapping at 109.719mph to go third quickest.
John Holden/Lee Cain retired at Westwood with Alan Founds/Jake Lowther out at Ballacraine but Molyneux/Sayle were having no such problems and on their second lap they upped their pace considerably to lap at 113.641mph. Conrad Harrison, with new passenger Andy Winkle, also improved on their first lap speed with 107.458mph second time around.
That placed them sixth quickest behind Steve and Matty Ramsden (107.991) and ahead of Gary Knight/Dan Evanson (106.563) but the Birchall brothers overhauled both Founds and Reeves to go second quickest with a lap of 110.917mph.
To complete a dominant night, Molyneux/Sayle then went quicker still on their third and final lap with a speed of 114.090mph.
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