Anstey sets sights on retaining his Formula 1 crown

Bruce Anstey will set out to retain his Motorsport Merchandise Formula 1 crown on the Padgetts Racing YZR500 GP Yamaha this afternoon.

The Kiwi set a new lap record of 123.894mph on his way to victory on the awesome two-stroke racer last year and caused a stir during final qualifying on Saturday, when it was reported that Anstey had clocked 126mph.

However, a transponder issue meant the 46-year-old was credited with a lap of 123.144mph but Anstey’s second flying lap may well have been closer to the 126mph mark.

The New Zealand star will start as the favourite for today’s feature race, which is scheduled for four laps of the Mountain Course at 1.30pm.

He finished second fastest at the top of the times behind the impressive Peter Hickman, who is making his Classic TT debut.

Hickman, who won the second Superbike race at the Ulster Grand Prix to seal his maiden international road race win earlier this month, clocked 123.364mph on the Mistral Racing Kawasaki.

Michael Dunlop on the Team Classic Suzuki XR69 was ruled out of the race last year with an electrical problem and will be aiming to make amends.

The 26-year-old was third fastest overall with a speed of 122.964mph achieved on Thursday.

Saturday’s 500cc race winner Dean Harrison is also among the top contenders after lapping at 122.792mph on the Steelcote Solutions Kawasaki ZXR750 to finish fourth on the practice leaderboard ahead of Lee Johnston (Team Classic Suzuki X69), who clocked 122.44mph.

Ryan Farquhar is also in the mix on Roger Winfield’s Harris Yamaha after setting his best lap of 122.229mph in the final session on Saturday to slot into sixth on the overall times ahead of Jamie Coward (Mistral Kawasaki ZXR750) and Aussie David Johnson on the Team York Suzuki, who lapped at 120.935mph and 120.845mph respectively.

In the concurrently-run Formula 2 race, Ian Lougher should be the man to beat on the Laylaw Racing TZ250 Yamaha.

Lougher is riding the machine for Dubliner Eddie Laycock’s former sponsor Gerry Lawlor and topped the times at 109.381mph.

Fermanagh’s Johnston will be confident he can repeat his win from 2014 in the Okells 350cc Classic TT on the Black Eagle MV Agusta.

Johnston headed the qualifying times at 102.321mph with a flying lap on Thursday to go top from Michael Rutter (Ripley Land Raving Honda), who lapped at 100.65mph, with Dan Cooper third fastest on the Molnar Manx Norton at 99.364mph.

Alan Oversby (Davies Motorsport Honda) and Jamie Coward on the Craven Honda K4 were the top five, posting speeds of 98.283mph and 97.311mph respectively.

Former Grand Prix rider Danny Webb, who is making his debut at the event after being called in as a replacement for the injured Cameron Donald, was sixth on the overall 350cc leaderboard after a lap of 96.791mph on the Molnar Manx Norton.

Webb finished ahead of Dungannon’s Nigel Moore in seventh, who nudged 96.627mph on Roger Mitchell’s Honda.

William Dunlop will be a leading candidate on the Davies Motorsport Honda if the Ballymoney rider has overcome the problems he encountered during practice.

The Okells 350cc Classic TT is scheduled to take place at 10.15am over four laps, followed by the Classic Racer Classic TT Lap of Honour at 12.10pm.

The Motorsport Merchandise Formula 1/Formula 2 race is set for a 1.30pm start, also over four laps, followed by qualifying sessions for the IMGold Manx Grand Prix competitors, with sessions for newcomers, Senior, Junior, Supertwin and Lightweight machines.