Michael Dunlop completed his first lap at the Classic TT since 2017 as the Ballymoney man posted the fourth fastest time in the Superbike session during Friday afternoon’s contingency qualifying session.
Dunlop arrived on the Isle of Man on Wednesday but the 30-year-old did not miss out on much track time as poor weather disrupted practice week.
The 19-time TT winner is battered and bruised following his crash at the Southern 100 in July, which left him with a reported broken pelvis and hip joint.
Dunlop then aggravated a wrist injury when he rode at Armoy, where he won both Superbike races on the Tyco BMW.
He only competed in the Superstock race at the Ulster Grand Prix earlier this month and although Dunlop is still experiencing a great degree of discomfort, the Ulster rider said he wanted to make the trip over for the Classic TT to ride Steve Wheatman’s Team Classic Suzuki XR69 in Monday’s Superbike race.
Dunlop, who has won the feature race three times in 2013, 2015 and 2016, only did one lap on Friday afternoon, clocking a speed of 119.89mph.
“I’m back on my feet again and I’m a bit excited for the job,” Dunlop said.
“I’ve come to ride the big XR69 and it’s going to be a challenge. Steve (Wheatman) is a great fella and I wanted to try my best to come here and ride the bike for him because he’s a nice bloke and he builds a fantastic motorbike.
“He’s been good to me and he told me not to come, but I’ve come here for Steve and we’ll give it a go.”
Reflecting on his Southern 100 crash, Dunlop added: “It’s just one of those things. What goes up must come down and when you’re my size it doesn’t help. I damaged myself more at Armoy and it put me on the back foot because I broke my wrist and re-broke my arm.
“It’s my own stupidity really but that’s life and we’ll just keep at it.”
Dean Harrison, who has won the Classic Superbike race for the past two years, set the fastest lap so far at 124.56mph to lead the way from Horst Saiger (Greenall Kawasaki), who lapped at 121.64mph and Manx rider Conor Cummins on the Padgett’s Yamaha YZR500 Grand Prix bike (120.56mph).
Behind Dunlop, Phil Crowe was fifth fastest (Team Classic Suzuki) ahead of David Johnson (Team York Suzuki) and Paul Jordan, who lapped at 119.02mph on the Mistral Kawasaki ZXR750.
The returning Bruce Anstey bettered his time from Monday on the Milenco by Padgett’s Honda RS250 with a speed of 116.99mph.
Anstey, making his return to the Mountain Course after missing the past two seasons through illness, tops the Lightweight leaderboard from Dean Harrison on the LayLaw Racing Yamaha TZ250 (115.87mph) with Jamie Coward third quickest at 112.84mph on the Binch Racing Yamaha.
Last year’s winner Lee Johnston was struggling with his Binch Racing Yamaha after completing one lap at 103.72mph, which left him in 13th place.
Johnston said: “We just can’t seem to get the bike to run and I don’t know what it is. Maybe I’ve used up all my good luck this year because it’s been a bit of a nightmare so far at the Classic TT.”
John McGuinness set the pace on the Winfield Paton in the Senior session at 109.59mph from Jamie Coward (Ted Woof/Craven Manx Norton) and Michael Rutter (Ripley Land Racing Matchless).
In the Junior class, it was Dominic Herbertson on top at 100.74mph on the Davies Motorsport Honda 350 from Rutter (Ripley Land Racing Honda 350) and Northern Ireland rider Johnston (Davies Motorsport Honda 350).
Darryl Tweed was second fastest in the Junior Manx Grand Prix session with a lap of 119.47mph.
Practice week has been decimated by poor weather with only a handful of laps completed on Monday. No action took place on Tuesday or Wednesday as a result of inclement conditions.
On Thursday, the Senior and Junior Classic TT riders did one untimed practice lap around the Mountain Course on wet roads, although the Superbike and Lightweight session was cancelled.
The afternoon session on Friday was delayed to allow mist on the Mountain section to lift. The action finally got underway at around 2.10pm with the Senior and Junior machines leaving Glencrutchery Road.
Practice is set to resume on Friday evening, with roads closing from 6pm.