John McGuinness back at number one for Isle of Man TT bid

John McGuinness will revert back to the number one plate at the Isle of Man TT this year
John McGuinness will revert back to the number one plate at the Isle of Man TT this year

Isle of Man TT titan John McGuinness will carry the number one plate at the legendary road race meeting in the summer.

The Honda Racing star will be the first rider to blast down the infamous Bray Hill as the 20-time TT winner attempts to take advantage of a clear road ahead and escape the clutches of his rivals.

McGuinness has broken his right scaphoid following an off-road training accident less than two months before the North West 200, but at this stage it is not thought the injury will impact on his plans.

The popular Morecambe man has previously been successful at the TT after setting off at number one in 2011 and 2012, but last year he switched to number three as part of a Honda tribute marking the 30th anniversary of Ulster road racing legend Joey Dunlop’s first victory for the Japanese manufacturer on the Mountain Course.

Behind McGuinness, James Hillier goes at number two on the Quattro Plant Kawasaki ten seconds later followed by Yorkshireman Ian Hutchinson on Shaun Muir’s Milwaukee Yamaha.

Tyco Suzuki’s Guy Martin sets off at four followed by Kiwi Bruce Anstey on the Padgetts Honda and then new BMW signing Michael Dunlop, who retains the number six plate from last season.

Dunlop will be focused on making up as much ground as possible on his factory-supported S1000RR in the early stages of the Superbike and Senior races to prevent McGuinness building an advantage.

Lincolnshire’s Gary Johnson is next at number seven, with William Dunlop on the Tyco Suzuki machines at eight. Michael Rutter and Honda Racing’s Conor Cummins round out the top ten.

Dan Stewart (11) is followed by Dean Harrison (RC Express MSS Kawasaki and Mar-Train Racing), while Co Fermanagh’s Lee Johnston – last year’s top privateer – sets off at number 13.

Milwaukee Yamaha’s Josh Brookes, the fastest TT newcomer ever, is next with Steve Mercer completing the top 15.

New Norton signing Cameron Donald has been allocated number 19, the same position from which Scotland’s Steve Hislop won the epic 1992 Senior race.

Ryan Farquhar has opted to ride with his traditional number 77, while Jamie Hamilton (Wilson Craig Racing) will have the number 26 plate.

The start numbers remain largely unchanged for the Superstock race, although Hutchinson, Brookes and Donald won’t compete in the event, resulting in riders below them being moved up the grid.

Practice for the Isle of Man TT commences on Saturday, May 24 with racing scheduled to get under way with the Dainese Superbike event on Saturday May 31.