Belfast Telegraph

Dunlop in fine shape as he shoots for Classic TT glory

 

In control: Michael Dunlop at Kirk Michael during last night’s Classic TT qualifying session
In control: Michael Dunlop at Kirk Michael during last night’s Classic TT qualifying session
Michael Dunlop
Tilt at success: Dean Harrison at The Gooseneck yesterday

By Roy Harris

Michael Dunlop had his first couple of laps of the Isle of Man Mountain course, one in the afternoon and one in the evening, and ended up third fastest in the Classic TT Superbike class ahead of Monday's four-lap race.

Riding the Team Classic Suzuki XR69, Dunlop lapped at 123.28mph last night, 11.331secs behind fastest man Dean Harrison on the Silicone Engineering Kawasaki who put in a 124.56mph lap in the afternoon.

Sandwiched between the pair is Dubliner Derek Sheils, who on his final lap of the evening session went around at 124.03mph, five seconds down on Harrison.

Dunlop, still carrying injuries from his Southern 100 spill in July, said: "It was a steady enough lap. The quick shifter broke in session one and it made it hard enough. I know this bike well, I know how she likes to be ridden, it's just a pity I'm not at full strength to muscle her around as I usually do."

An impressive performance from the Ballymoney man chasing his fourth win in this race.

Another equally impressive lap came from Bruce Anstey, who is fastest ahead of this afternoon's Lightweight Classic TT having lapped at 117.29mph on his Padgetts Honda, the Flying Kiwi not having ridden for two years due to illness.

Anstey said: "I had to get a lift back up the return road after doing a plug chop with the bike and I didn't feel like pushing the machine back into the pits."

Other highlights from the evening session were in the Junior Manx Grand Prix where 19-year-old James Hind from Market Rasen topped the time sheets with a 120.02mph final lap, three and a half seconds ahead of Stephen Parsons and Manxman Nathan Harrison while John McGuinness headed the Senior Classic TT class with a lap of 110.13mph. North West 200 first time winner Stefano Bonetti made it a Paton 1-2 at 108.94mph.

Dubliner Dave Butler leads the Lightweight Manx times with a 112.72mph lap on his 650cc Kawasaki with Francesco Curinga second at 112.37mph and Andy Farrell third on 112.34mph, just four seconds covering the trio.

Jamie Coward leads the Junior Classic TT at 101.80mph with Lee Johnston second on 98.32mph and Sheils third fastest at 98.09mph.

It's been a week dogged by bad weather ahead of today's first races, the four-lap Senior Classic (11.30am) and the Lightweight Classic (3.00pm).

Earlier yesterday Dunlop completed his first lap of the course on the Team Classic Suzuki and before heading out he said: "Steve Wheatman and the boys worked so hard to get this bike prepared I could not let them down. They told me not to come, but I have done my best to get here."

Low cloud on the mountain delayed proceedings by an hour and a quarter, but when the action got going it was Senior TT winner Dean Harrison who set the fastest speed in Classic TT Superbikes on his second lap at 124.56mph on his Kawasaki, well ahead of Horst Saiger (122.87mph), Conor Cummins (120.56mph) with Dunlop completing just the one lap at 119.89mph in fourth.

John McGuinness headed the Senior Classic on his 500cc Paton with a second lap of 109.59mph.

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