John McGuinness put down a marker on Roger Winfield’s Paton ahead of Saturday’s Bennetts 500cc Classic TT as after clocking the fastest time in the class on Thursday.
The Morecambe star, who clinched his 23rd Isle of Man TT victory with a stunning triumph and new outright lap record in excess of 132mph in the Senior race in June, was cruelly robbed by a technical problem in the race last year, retiring at Ginger Hall while leading on the opening lap.
The 43-year-old led the way with a lap of 110.634mph on Thuesday evening despite the breezy conditions to take the top spot ahead of Michael Rutter (Ripley Land Seeley), who clocked 106.364mph, with Jamie Coward (Manx Norton) third fastest at 105.445mph ahead of Black Eagle Racing’s Dean Harrison on the MV Agusta (105.207mph).
McGuinness said: “It was hard work out there and just like being on the ‘two fifty’ again. The sun was quite low but it was a really enjoyable ride and everyone was flying around out there tonight and having a good time.
“We’re in the ballpark and the green bike was really flying.”
Ulsterman Ryan Farquhar on the second of the Winfield Patons appeared to be experiencing problems as he toured back to the Grandstand.
Alan Oversby (Honda), Chris Swallow (Manx Norton) and William Dunlop on the Davies Motorsport Honda were the top six.
Welsh rider Ian Lougher, who won the corresponding race last year, was seventh quickest on the Giovanni Cabassi Paton (102.396mph).
The dry weather came as a massive relief for the organisers, with only one session completed since Saturday due to poor weather on the island.
In the Motorsport Merchandise Formula 1 class, Michael Dunlop led the way on the Team Classic Suzuki XR69 with a brilliant lap at 122.964mph.
Dunlop, who flashed through the speed trap at Sulby at 172mph, headed the times from Farquhar on the 1100cc Harris Yamaha (122.134mph) and James Hillier on the Greenall Kawasaki ZXR750 (118.569mph).
Dunlop’s speed tailed off on his second lap as he went round at 116mph after developing a reported clutch issue with the big Suzuki.
Ivan Lintin on the Steelcote Solutions Kawasaki, Aussie David Johnson (Team York Suzuki) and Russ Mountford (Silicone Engineering Kawasaki) were the first half dozen, followed by Peter Hickman and Dean Harrison, also riding Kawasaki ZXR750 machinery.
The sun, and temperature, dropped for the 350cc session but Fermanagh’s Lee Johnston, riding the Black Eagle Racing MV Agusta, showed the form that won him last year’s race as he topped the session at 102.321mph - the only lap over 100mph.
Classic racing specialist Alan Overby on the Davies Motorsport Honda was second fastest at 98.283mph from Jamie Coward (Ted Woof Craven Honda K4).