Belfast Telegraph

'I'm only a small-timer from Ireland': Michael Dunlop laughs off pressure talk at Isle of Man TT

 

Michael Dunlop came in fourth during Monday's Superbike outing at the Isle of Man TT.
Michael Dunlop came in fourth during Monday's Superbike outing at the Isle of Man TT.
Speed machine: Dean Harrison set the fastest times in both the Superbike and Superstock classes in Isle of Man TT practice last night

By Roy Harris

There were blue skies and dry roads yesterday but windy conditions greeted the Superbike, Superstock and Supersport machines as practice for ths year's Isle of Man TT resumed after weather delays last night .

Dean Harrison, on his very last lap, laid down the first marker of the week's racing by setting the fastest speed of the night at 129.53mph on his Silicone Engineering Kawasaki Superbike.

The Bradford rider was 11 seconds ahead of Ramsey man Conor Cummins, who had been fastest at 128.09mph with his opening lap of the session.

Harrison also set the fastest speed in the Superstock class. It was just fractionally slower than his Superbike speed, his lap coming in at 129.34mph to take top honours in that class as well.

Harrison's evening had a poor start with his machine cutting out just before the start, having to be wheeled off the start line and forcing him onto the circuit on his 'T' bike instead.

Cummins, racing on a Milenco by Padgetts Honda, had been on a quicker second lap but was black-flagged with an apparent smoking machine.

Back in the pit, a frustrated Cummins said: "I was black-flagged, but after a safety check nothing was found to be wrong with the bike."

North West 200 debut winner James Hillier was third fastest, a mere 0.111 seconds slower than Cummins, while Michael Dunlop ended the session fourth fastest on the night with a speed of 126.93mph on the Tyco BMW.

Dunlop was on a par with Harrison's lap on his final circuit, but slowed in the last sector with a rear brake problem.

Going about his business in his usual style, Dunlop laughed and said: "There's no pressure on me, I'm only a small timer from Ireland."

Ian Hutchinson had been fifth fastest, but the unlucky Bingley rider crashed his Honda at the fast 11th milestone, fortunately reporting in as unhurt and later returning to the Honda truck in the paddock.

The much-awaited return to TT duty after injury for 23-time winner John McGuinness saw him get the Norton around at almost 124mph.

His boss Stuart Garner commented: "This is the real deal this year after a couple of demonstration laps last year.

"John had a while out and he was just a wee bit nervous before heading out this evening, but when he gets a couple of laps under his belt it'll settle him down."

It wasn't a great TT beginning for outright lap record holder Peter Hickman, who failed to complete a lap on his Smiths BMW Superbike.

He only got to Quarter Bridge on his opening lap before returning to the paddock with an electrical problem, and then when he got back out he only reached Kirkmichael before another problem forced him to return to the start via the back roads.

However, he made amends in the Supersport class by topping the timesheets on the Trooper Beer by Smiths Triumph at 123.92mph, with Derek McGee second fastest at 122.04mph and Lee Johnston third on 121.38mph.

McGuinness, a late entry on a Milenco by Padgetts Honda, was fourth fastest and Magherafelt's Paul Jordan was fifth quickest.

Australian Honda rider David Johnson was second fastest in the Superstock class, over 22 seconds slower than Harrison, with Sam West third with a lap of 124.89mph, while Johnston was fourth and Dunlop fifth.

John Holden and Lee Cain set the fastest lap of the sidecar session.

Ryan Farquhar, speaking on TT Radio before the practice session started, said: "I'm thinking of the Supertwins and when my team will get out again.

"With Monday's practice cancelled and moved to tonight and with tomorrow looking like a washout, it's not the ideal situation for us."

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