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Isle of Man TT: Peter Hickman is delighted to throw down the gauntlet, while Michael Dunlop seeks right set-up

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Speed king: Peter Hickman (Gas Monkey BMW) in action at Ballagery during last night’s final practice session at the Isle of Man TT. Credit: Stephen Davison

Speed king: Peter Hickman (Gas Monkey BMW) in action at Ballagery during last night’s final practice session at the Isle of Man TT. Credit: Stephen Davison

Speed king: Peter Hickman (Gas Monkey BMW) in action at Ballagery during last night’s final practice session at the Isle of Man TT. Credit: Stephen Davison

Five-time Isle of Man TT winner Peter Hickman will take all the beating as the 2022 festival blasts off in anger today with the six-lap RST Superbike race (12pm).

Hickman has underscored his status as the pre-race favourite throughout practice week, with the outright lap record holder posting the fastest lap on Thursday night at 133.22mph.

Damp patches around the course yesterday evening following rain in the afternoon ensured lap times weren’t quite as fast, but Hickman again led the way on his Gas Monkey Garage BMW at 132.876mph.

The English rider will be aiming to make amends for a disappointing North West 200 as Hickman sets his sights on a repeat of his Superbike TT triumph when the event was last held in 2019.

“We’ve been waiting for three years and like everyone else, I’ve been really looking forward to coming back to the Isle of Man for what is without a doubt the biggest and best race in the world,” he said. “After a few years away, it feels incredible to be back here on the island with the team and the bikes and I think everyone is raring to go.

“As always, the old ‘steady away’ expression is as vital as ever, especially after three years out, but everyone is in the same position.

“I’m pretty happy with the Superbike and it feels good, so I’m just going to get some rest now and then we go racing.”

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Bradford’s Dean Harrison is expected to be Hickman’s main challenger today. The DAO Racing Kawasaki rider holds the lap record for the Superbike race at 134mph and he was second fastest in qualifying, lapping at 132.323mph on Thursday.

Last night, he was third quickest in the final qualifying session at 128.56mph.

“I rolled off on the Mountain because there were a few damp patches, but I’m happy enough with the bike and we’re ready for the race tomorrow,” Harrison said.

Ballymoney’s Michael Dunlop is Northern Ireland’s best hope but the 19-time TT winner has yet to find the right set-up for the Hawk Racing Suzuki, and appeared very animated when he came into the paddock following a lap at 129.346mph last night.

Dunlop did lap at 131mph on Thursday, but it appears there is still work to do ahead of today’s Superbike showdown if he’s to win his first big bike TT since 2018.

His place on the rostrum could be under threat from rising star Davey Todd, who has been in red-hot form all week.

The Milenco by Padgett’s Honda rider only managed one lap last night after stopping on the Mountain with an issue on his 600 Honda, but Todd’s speed of 132.187mph on Thursday has put him firmly in contention for the top three today.

“I’m absolutely loving every lap,” said Todd. “The bikes are awesome and big thanks to Clive (Padgett) and the team because I just feel so comfortable, it’s all really starting to flow.”

His team-mate, Manxman Conor Cummins, is another top contender, while newcomer Glenn Irwin will line up for his maiden TT race on a high after setting his fastest lap so far last night at 128.268mph on the Honda Racing Fireblade.

The opening Sidecar race is also scheduled today, when Nottingham brothers Ben and Tom Birchall are the hot favourites.


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