The first ever sub-17 minute lap of the Isle of Man TT Mountain Course is on the cards this year according to some of road racing’s biggest names.
Kiwi Bruce Anstey is the current outright lap record holder after lapping in 17m 06.682s on the final lap of the Superbike race in 2014, becoming the first rider ever to break the 132mph barrier.
The evergreen New Zealander’s record lap would need to be bettered by slightly more than six seconds to achieve the feat, which would equate to a blistering 133mph average lap of the legendary 37.73-mile circuit, but Anstey, plus 21-times winner John McGuinness and current Superbike and Senior TT champion Michael Dunlop believe a sub-17 minute lap is a realistic prospect in June.
McGuinness, who is aiming to return to the top step in the feature classes at the TT this year after a wrist injury ruined his hopes in 2014, said: “It depends which side of the bed Bruce gets out of. I think so, if everything is perfect on the day. I am away at number one, you’ve got [James] Hillier at two who has done 130mph laps; obviously there’s Michael [Dunlop], then the grey haired miserable one, [Michael] Rutter, he’s at four, then Bruce – any one of those guys.
“Hutchy is fit again, Conor [Cummins], Dean [Harrison] and the other youngsters are all up for it. I just hope no-one catches me.”
McGuinness, who was speaking at the official launch of the Isle of Man TT races in Douglas, added: “As Bruce said, his was a fast lap but it was scrappy, his feet were off the pegs, there was a few heart stoppers and if he held it back a little, he would have been knocking on the door of a sub-17m lap.
“It’s on the cards, we’re all up for it, we’re all in good shape; it’s going to be epic.”
Dunlop, meanwhile – who will set off at number three on the new Milwaukee Yamaha YZF-R1 as he attempts to seal a Superbike victory at the TT for a third different manufacturer in as many years – is also optimistic there is more to come at the TT.
“Anything is possible; truthfully, yes [sub-17 minute lap will happen],” he said. “I don’t think lap times finished yet as in how far they can go. I’m certainly not finished.
“You’ve got to do what you have to do to win a race and it depends on the weather, the bikes and the race. The lap record didn’t go in 2013 when me and John went at it [in Senior race] but who knows; a lot happens in a race before it is over.”
Meanwhile, the official launch of the Vauxhall International North West 200 takes place on Tuesday at Titanic Belfast, followed by a ‘meet the riders’ event in the evening, when fans lucky enough to have secured a ticket will have the chance to have their pictures taken with their favourite riders and grab a few prized autographs.