Last night’s penultimate solo practice session at TT2010 was more about the all-new 60km an hour speed limit through gasoline alley, rather than who could topple TT King John McGuinness from the top of the current overall leaderboard, or so we thought.
Introduced for the first time this year on safety grounds, each team has been forced to fit a pit lane speed limiter to each machine, triggered manually by the rider when entering the pit lane for fuel and new rubber.
Unfortunately a few riders didn’t quite get it last night, including Dungannon’s Ryan Farquhar, riding through pit lane well above the legal 60km limit as they left the holding area to start their opening lap.
No penalty was enforced during last night’s familiarisation process, but should a rider break the rules on race day, a minimum penalty of 30 seconds, growing to 60 seconds and possibly disqualification will be imposed, which should be interesting during the heat of battle tomorrow.
Once the novelty had worn off, all eyes returned to the timing screens with HM Plant Honda’s new recruit, Keith Amor, posting a standing start lap of 128.691mph, his fastest so far on the TT Circuit.
Amor’s quickest lap stood for less than 18 minutes when Ian Hutchinson (Padgetts Honda) posted the second quickest lap of practice week, with a superb flying lap of 130.165mph, less than a second slower than John McGuinness time from Wednesday night.
Michael Dunlop, who has been nailed to the summit of the Supersport class leaderboard all week, produced his fastest ever lap around the Mountain Circuit at 127.496mph on his Robinson Honda Superbike, before explaining: “Yes, that’s the first time we’ve got the bike handling this week.
“We came up on yellow flags because of a crash, so I’m good for a 129mph lap on this thing.”
The confident 21-year-old then proceeded to add himself to business end of the Superstock leaderboard, with a lap of 127.111mph (17mins:48.58s) from a standing start — the fastest Superstock lap of the session — just eight seconds away from class leader Farquhar on the KMR Kawasaki (128.076mph) and three seconds adrift of second-placed man Amor (127.525mph) on the Corless/Jackson Racing BMW.
Cameron Donald’s opening lap through the speed restricted pit-lane was more eventful than most, immediately returning via the access road covered in petrol, after the Monza cap fitted to his Superbike sprung open.
The Relentless by TAS Suzuki rider returned to the action posting a flying lap of 128.838mph, showing that he too means business tomorrow.
Ballymoney’s Adrian Archibald has been sitting quietly inside the top five in the Superbike class all week, but an engine problem with his FB McKee Suzuki forced him to pit after only one lap, with the 40-year-old taking his Superstock machine out for a 124.23mph lap.
McAdoo Kawasaki Racing’s Conor Cummins complained of reduced visibility and yellow flags on the circuit during his Superbike stint, but the six feet four inch Manxman still posted an impressive lap of 128.838mph, and he remains one of the biggest threats to McGuinness’ dominance in the Superbike class.
Farquhar continued to battle with his MSS Colchester Kawasaki Superbike, making a number of adjustments after the opening lap. However, the Dungannon man is improving at a steady pace, upping his best time to 125.049mph.
Farquhar also posted a lap of 122.818mph on his Supersport machine, keeping him well in the hunt for middleweight honours.
Last night’s session may have offered us the second 130mph lap of TT2010, but the local talking point has to be Michael Dunlop, whose talent is just beginning to manifest itself in all three of the four-stroke classes. Tonight’s practice session takes place at 6.20pm with solo machines first out on track.