Untimed qualifying as rain hits Classic TT and Manx Grand Prix course

Michael Dunlop and Lee Johnston on the Molnar Manx Nortons at the Classic TT
Michael Dunlop and Lee Johnston on the Molnar Manx Nortons at the Classic TT

Thursday night’s Classic TT and Manx Grand Prix practice sessions were untimed due to damp conditions around the Mountain Course following heavy rain in the afternoon.

A large number of riders opted to skip the session and Kiwi Bruce Anstey’s lap of 122.523mph set on the Padgett’s Motorcycles ex-Grand Prix YZR500 Yamaha on Wednesday remains the fastest time of the week.

The 45-year-old sits at the top of the leaderboard ahead of Team Classic Suzuki’s Michael Dunlop in the Motorsport Merchandise Formula 1 class, who lapped at 122.173mph from a standing start before pulling in.

The pair look set to battle it out for honours on Monday, with Winfield Paton riders Ryan Farquhar and John McGuinness among the favourites for Saturday’s Bennetts 500cc race on the Isle of Man – the first event on the Classic TT programme.

Farquhar’s lap from Wednesday at 111.102mph was narrowly outside Olie Linsdell’s lap record, with McGuinness (109.846mph) and fellow Paton rider Ian Lougher (109.282mph) on the Flitwick Motorcycles machine second and third respectively ahead of tonight’s final qualifying session.

The 500cc race is scheduled for a 12.30pm start tomorrow and will be held over four laps, with McGuinness setting off at number one.

Michael Dunlop goes at number three on the Molnar Manx Norton ahead of Linsdell (Royal Enfield) and Anstey on the McIntosh Manx Norton.

William Dunlop, who finished as the runner-up in this race last year behind Linsdell, retains his familiar number six plate on the Davies Motorsport Honda.

Gary Johnson (MV Agusta), Roy Richardson (Aermacchi) and Farquhar set off at numbers seven, eight and nine respectively.

Other top contenders include Fermanagh’s Lee Johnston on a Molnar Manx Norton (13), Davies Motorsport Honda rider Alan Oversby Honda (14) and James Hillier (CSC Racing Honda) at number 16.

A special parade lap featuring many of Joey Dunlop’s greatest rivals will also take place on Saturday at 4.15pm, led away by former Armoy Armada rider Jim Dunlop.

A stellar list of 26 names – representing Joey’s record of Isle of Man TT victories – includes Carl Fogarty, Graeme Crosby, Steve Cull, Charlie Williams, Brian Reid, Rob McElnea, Mick Grant, Phillip McCallen and Paul Iddon.

Armoy Armada riders Mervyn Robinson and Frank Kennedy will be represented by Paul Robinson and Bill Kennedy, with Ballyclare’s Jamie Hamilton filling in for Virginio Ferrari.

Michael Dunlop will represent his father Robert on the JPS Norton Rotary 588.

This year’s Classic TT festival is a celebration of Dunlop’s TT success with a particular emphasis on his dominance of the event in the eighties.

A series of events will be held in the paddock today, including fancy dress, live chat shows and entertainment, including a display by the madcap Purple Helmets.

A rare exhibition of Dunlop’s machines also opened yesterday at the Grandstand, featuring 30 bikes previously raced by the road racing legend and ranging from the first bike that the Ballymoney star raced at the TT – a TZ350 Yamsel Yamaha – through to the iconic Honda SP1, which Joey powered to a famous win in the Formula 1 race in 2000.

Meanwhile, former MotoGP rider Jeremy McWilliams will return to the Grand Prix paddock next weekend as a replacement for Luke Mossey on the Brough Superior Moto2 machine. The 50-year-old Ulsterman tested the machine at Mallory Park on Wednesday.