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Thompson revels in baptism of fire

After a week of glorious sunshine, Saturday evening’s opening practice session for this year’s Monster Energy Isle of Man TT Races was confined to a solitary controlled lap for newcomers, due to poor weather conditions and reduced visibility on the Mountain.

Given the fact that racing rarely takes place on the Isle of Man in wet or damp conditions, it was a baptism that local man Stephen Thompson will not forget in a hurry.

“That was like nothing I have ever experienced in my life,” said Thompson. “It was either wet all over or damp under the trees and we couldn’t see 10 feet in front of us on the mountain.

“In fairness to the Marshal leading us, he stuck virtually to the white line and maybe could have gone a little quicker. We had rain, mist, fog — everything I never expected I’d have to ride in here on the Island, but I do feel a bit more relaxed now I’ve completed a lap. But from a point of learning anything — well that will have to wait until we can see where we are going.”

A lap in foggy damp conditions was relatively easy for the former British championship competitor, compared to breaking the news to his mother that he had actually decided to race at the TT this year.

“We had booked mum a holiday to Portugal as she hadn’t been well earlier in the year, but with the ash cloud, her flight had been delayed a few days and that meant I was leaving for the Isle of Man before she went on holiday. My dad didn’t want her holiday ruined, or his, so I waited until today (Sunday) to give her the news,” said Thompson.

All 14 newcomers, including Takahiro Itami from Japan and David Johnson from Australia, tentatively made it back to ‘dry land’ at the paddock, but with South African Hudson Kennaugh and British Supersport regular Dan Cooper failing to complete the lap due to technical problems, a second controlled lap may well take place prior to tonight’s timed solo practice, which commences at 6.20pm.

Practice sessions for Solo and Sidecar classes will take place, weather permitting, every day this week from 6.20pm, with the opening races — the six lap Superbike TT and Sidecar Race 1 — taking place this coming Saturday at 1pm and 3pm respectively.

Belfast Telegraph