Belfast Telegraph

Stars hope weather will stop putting the brakes on TT

 

By Roy Harris

The weather continued to blight this year's TT with yesterday's racing cancelled due to rain and high winds that hit the Isle of Man in the early hours of the morning.

Competitors and race officials have been tearing their hair out right through practice week and beyond, looking for possible windows of suitable weather to complete qualifying and the opening races.

Clerk of the Course Gary Thompson has had a difficult time and to date has got all the big decisions right - he moved the opening TT Superbike race to Sunday to have a full day of qualifying on Saturday and held off on Monday until conditions improved enough to get the Supersport and Sidecar races ran, with the rain starting on the final lap of the three-wheeler event.

Now we have a revised schedule for today with the RL 360 Quantum Superstock four-lap race scheduled for 10.45am followed by a Sidecar qualifying lap. The Bennetts Lightweight four-lap race is then set to start at 1.45pm.

Two laps of qualifying for Senior and Supersport machines are set to commence at 3.40pm and finally the single-lap SES TT Zero race is due to set off at 4.24pm.

The forecast of dry by day, some sunshine with rain by evening and overnight will see a lot of fingers crossed that today's schedule goes to plan.

The opening Superstock race is set to be a thriller with Ian Hutchinson (Tyco BMW) and Michael Dunlop (MD Racing Suzuki) chasing their second wins of the week.

Both have new elements to sort out this year - Dunlop is now on the untried Suzuki GSX-R1000 while Hutchinson has switched from Metzeler Tyres to Dunlop rubber.

The Superstock Suzuki, despite winning in the National Superstock 1000 series on the mainland, has not transferred that form to the roads with Dunlop failing to finish either Superstock race at the North West 200 and only qualifying 14th ahead of today's race. Hutchy set the fastest lap for the class at 129.535mph on Friday.

But everyone knows that things change come race day and with Hutchinson keen to win every race he enters and Dunlop always eager to up the ante, the scene is set for the two fastest TT riders in history to lock horns once again.

Waiting to pounce if either of the big two hit trouble in the 150.92-mile race are a host of quality riders including Peter Hickman, who is chasing his third podium of the week, James Hillier, who was third in the Supersport race and fourth in the Superbike TT, and Dean Harrison, who was third in the Superbike TT before retiring in the Supersport event.

Dan Kneen was running at the sharp end of both races until pit lane speed penalties thwarted his chances and veteran Michael Rutter can never be written off.

William Dunlop has five TT podiums to date and is a potential threat on the Temple Golf Club Yamaha following a sound fourth place in the Supersport race on Monday.

The afternoon Lightweight race will see North West 200 winners Martin Jessopp and Rutter go head-to-head again with the latter Paton-mounted this time around. His North West 200 KMR IEG Kawasaki is to be ridden by Hickman today.

McAdoo Kawasaki have two men capable of rostrum finishes in James Cowton and Michael Dunlop, while Ivan Lintin, Dan Cooper, Italian Stephano Bonetti and Josh Brookes all have podium ambitions.

Newcomers Adam McLean and Paul Jordan, meanwhile, will be hoping to make good, clean runs.

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