Michael Dunlop blasted to the fastest Supersport time of the week in less than perfect conditions on Thursday night at the Isle of Man TT.
Dunlop, a double winner in the class year, topped the leaderboard with a speed of 124.53mph on his MD Racing Honda, despite damp patches on the Mountain.
Mar-Train Racing’s Dean Harrison was second fastest at 123.886mph with the top three completed by Tyco Suzuki’s William Dunlop, who lapped at 122.978mph.
Bruce Anstey on the Valvoline Padgett’s Honda was next at 122.290mph followed by Milwaukee Yamaha’s Josh Brookes (122.011mph) and Conor Cummins on the Jackson Racing Honda (120.669mph).
In the Lightweight session, Keith Amor led the way at 116.20mph on the KMR SGS International Kawasaki followed by team owner Ryan Farquhar at 115.593mph. Ballyclare’s Jamie Hamilton completed the top three on Stewart Smith’s Kawasaki at 114.212mph.
No Superbike or Superstock practice on Thursday night because of wet roads on the Mountain, and the Supersport and Lightweight session was delayed until 8.05pm following the conclusion of Sidecar practice.
The Sidecar session was red-flagged shortly before 7pm as a result of a civilian medical emergency. The session was re-started again at 7.15pm with stationary yellow flags being displayed on the Mountain, although an incident was reported at the end of the session on the run to Ramsey, resulting in a further delay to the beginning of the solo practice.
The crew involved was airlifted to Nobles Hospital with the passenger sustaining minor injuries and the driver suffering back injuries.
Meanwhile, Michael Dunlop confirmed on Thursday that he has changed tyre manufacturer and will switch back to Dunlop rubber for this year’s TT.
Dunlop has competed this season using Metzeler tyres since his move to BMW but has opted to revert back to his favoured Dunlops as he bids to add to his tally of seven TT wins, starting in tomorrow’s Dainese Superbike race, which is scheduled for six laps (11am).
The 25-year-old will run Dunlop tyres on his BMW Superbike and Superstock machines plus his MD Racing Honda and Kawasaki Supertwin.
Dunlop is among the key favourites to repeat his 2013 Superbike TT victory tomorrow as the first races of the 2014 schedule get under way.
He has already tasted Superbike success on the BMW with a brilliant win in the feature race at the North West 200 and many expect the Ballymoney racer to take all the beating.
However, the S1000RR is something of an unknown quantity in a six-lap Superbike race on the Mountain Course whereas Honda’s track record speaks for itself, with the CBR1000RR Fireblade dominating the feature class in recent years.
Morecambe’s John McGuinness represents the official Honda effort on the new Fireblade SP and although the 20-time winner was forced to skip several races at the North West as he recovers from a broken scaphoid, the 42-year-old outright lap record holder - who sets off at number one - will still be regarded as a major threat by his main adversaries.
Bruce Anstey clocked a lap of 130.86mph on the Valvoline Padgett’s Honda on Tuesday evening and the veteran Kiwi desperately craves an elusive triumph in the Superbike class.
Anstey sets off ahead of Michael Dunlop at number five and if the Kiwi is on his A-game from the opening lap, he may finally claim the top spot in the blue riband class.
Tyco Suzuki’s Guy Martin is another key contender as the Lincolnshire star continues to chase his debut win on the Mountain, while his team-mate William Dunlop and Manx rider Conor Cummins on the second of the Honda Racing machines are dark horses for the podium positions.
Gary Johnson on the Lincs Lifting Honda and Quattro Plant Kawasaki’s James Hillier are will also fancy their chances of spring a surprise, while Milwaukee Yamaha’s Ian Hutchinson will be hoping to shine on his TT return.
The first Sidecar race will also take place on saturday over three laps (2pm).
Qualifying continues on Friday at 6.20pm.