Relentless Suzuki’s antipodean pairing of Bruce Anstey and Cameron Donald have finally found their TT racing mojos, throwing down the gauntlet to John McGuinness and Honda Racing at last night’s fifth practice session on the Isle of Man.
Anstey warmed up with a standing start lap of 126mph, before posting his fastest ever lap around the arduous Mountain circuit, crossing the timing beam in 17 min: 23.79 seconds, breaking the magical 130mph barrier (130.129mph).
If that wasn’t enough to put a smile on Hector Neill’s face, Donald took another 10 seconds out of the 37.73-mile circuit, with a phenomenal lap of 131.457mph (17 min: 13.25 seconds) putting the Melbourne lad at the top of the timing sheets, with the fastest lap in history around the TT Circuit. He’s now highly likely to win the six grand watch put up by Graham of London for the fastest time during qualifying.
Cameron said: “I didn’t even look at the clock when I crossed the line. I have to be honest, I was actually held up by a couple of good riders who were hard to pass and the lap felt really comfortable. There’s loads of grip out there, but I’m not counting my chickens just yet.”
McGuinness had his first tough night with a number of small problems, but sounded a tad shell-shocked when Chris Kinley from Radio TT thrust a microphone under the Morecambe man’s nose, explaining that Donald had taken 10 seconds out of his best time.
“Fair dues to Cameron, I wondered what he’d been at all week. The boy can ride a bike and he just pulled the pin tonight, but it’s all on the day. It seems like a long week and I’m just ready to race now,” said a tired looking McGuinness. One man who has been slipping under the radar all week is Ian Hutchinson.
He jumped into the 129mph bracket as well last night and is also hovering at the top of the Superstock and Supersport leaderboards with laps of 126mph and 125mph respectively.
The top Irishman is 21-year-old Ballymoney man Michael Dunlop who shattered the Supersport record with an impressive lap of 126.299mph (17 min: 55.45) and the Street Sweep Yamaha pilot is confident of success in Monday’s middleweight opener.
Other riders worth a mention, prior to Saturday’s Dainese TT Superbike race are Steve Plater, who pushed his ‘PB’ up to 128.982mph from a standing start on the HM Plant Honda Racing Superbike; Guy Martin has been chipping away during every session posting a lap of 129mph that should see him well in contention for his debut TT win and Conor Cummins flattered to deceive on the McAdoo Racing Kawasaki, with a 128mph lap, again from a standing start.
Picking a winner on Saturday is impossible, but on the current state of affairs, I wouldn’t be surprised to see McGuinness, Plater, Hutchinson, Donald and Anstey all recording 130mph laps in pursuit of the Holy Grail. We just need the weather to hold for another 24 hours, but it’s shaping up to be an absolute cracker.
Overall practice leaderboard
1. Cameron Donald (Suzuki) 131.45mph
2. John McGuinness (Honda) 130.17
3. Bruce Anstey (Suzuki) 130.12
4. Guy Martin (Honda) 129.16
5. Ian Hutchinson (Honda) 129.03
6. Steve Plater (Honda) 128.73
1. Ian Hutchinson (Honda) 126.84mph
2. Keith Amor (Honda) 126.76
3. Cameron Donald (Suzuki) 126.43
4. Guy Martin (Honda) 126.05
5. Gary Johnson (Honda) 124.94
6. Conor Cummins (Kawasaki) 124.78
1. Michael Dunlop (Yamaha) 126.29mph
2. Ian Hutchinson (Honda) 125.18
3. Keith Amor (Honda) 124.22
4. Bruce Anstey (Suzuki) 123.87
5. John McGuinness (Honda) 123.86
6. Steve Plater (Honda) 123.39