Belfast Telegraph

Fracture gives hope to John's TT rivals

By Paul Lindsay

Twenty-time Isle of Man TT winner John McGuinness has opted to start first on the road at this year's event in the 1000cc classes, carrying the number one plate on his stable of Hondas.

But having dislocated his right wrist and fractured the scaphoid in an off-road incident earlier this week, there could be a big question mark over his fitness.

The Morecambe man has reportedly had the scaphoid pinned, but with just eight weeks until the Vauxhall International North West 200 – and a bone fracture that is notoriously slow to heal – it could be just the incentive his main rivals need on the run in to Superbike TT, that opens the Island-based festival on May 31.

McGuinness took victories from the number one berth in both 2011 and 2012, but accepted the number 3 slot last year to honour the late great Joey Dunlop's first TT win for Honda.

The top 20 riders have again been seeded with a plethora of established and up-and-coming talent crammed into the first three minutes and 20 seconds of TT action on May 31.

Starting 10 seconds behind McGuinness at number two will be new kid on the block James Hillier. The Quattro Plant rider shadowed McGuinness for much of last year's Pokerstars Senior race, which pulled him into the 131mph bracket. And having set the fifth fastest lap time ever around the Mountain Course, he is certainly one to watch.

Milwaukee Yamaha's Ian Hutchinson slots into the number three berth and will no doubt receive a rapturous welcome. Eight-time TT winner Hutchy has been to hell and back since his five-in-a-week clean sweep back in 2010 – having recovered from career-threatening and life-changing injuries later that year.

Tyco Suzuki's Guy Martin starts his fourth TT with the Moneymore based team at number four, with the popular TV star's main goal – to take his first-ever TT top step. But behind him the talent comes thick and fast.

Second-fastest ever around the TT Course, Bruce Anstey, will have the familiar number five plate on his Padgett's Honda, and behind the Kiwi at number six will be BMW mounted Michael Dunlop – a four-time winner last June.

At seven is Gary Johnson but behind him at eight is Tyco Suzuki new recruit William Dunlop, who gets his first 1000cc top 10 start at the TT. Completing the top 10 is veteran Michael Rutter with Manxman Conor Cummins at 10.

Dan Stewart, Dean Harrison and Lee Johnston go at 11, 12 and 13 respectively, but all eyes will be on Milwaukee Yamaha British Superbike star Josh Brookes at 14.

The Aussie set the fastest ever newcomer's lap last year with a stunning lap of 127.726mph, and is happy with his start number, as he explained yesterday.

"I'm happy with that. I can't expect to be any higher up in just my second year," said the Aussie.

"The guys around me are pretty fast and there's no guarantee I'll go any faster than last year, but I'll be doing my best obviously on the Milwaukee Yamahas."

Closing out the top 20 are Steve Mercer [15], Aussie David Johnson [16], Dan Kneen [17], Simon Andrews [18] and Ben Wylie [20], with high-profile double TT winner Cameron Donald at 19 on the Norton, echoing Steve Hislop's 1992 victory from the same spot.

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