Michael Dunlop set for Classic TT return on Suzuki XR69

Michael Dunlop will ride the Team Classic Suzuki XR69 in the RST Superbike race.
Michael Dunlop will ride the Team Classic Suzuki XR69 in the RST Superbike race.
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Practice for the Classic TT and Manx Grand Prix is scheduled to commence on Saturday evening on the Isle of Man, although Michael Dunlop will miss the opening session.

Dunlop was absent from the meeting last summer but re-joins Steve Wheatman’s Team Classic Suzuki squad to ride an 1100cc XR69 in the RST Superbike race on Bank Holiday Monday, August 26.

Dean Harrison has won the RST Superbike race for the past two years on the Silicone Engineering Kawasaki ZXR750.

Dean Harrison has won the RST Superbike race for the past two years on the Silicone Engineering Kawasaki ZXR750.

The 30-year-old has won on the machine three times at the Classic TT, claiming victories in 2013, 2015 and 2016. He is a non-starter in the first session but is set to ride next week.

However, Dunlop – who is due to set off at number six – has been struggling with injury and only competed in the Superstock race at last weekend’s Ulster Grand Prix.

He hurt himself in a crash at the Southern 100 last month and aggravated a wrist injury as he won both Superbike races at his home meeting at Armoy at the end of July.

A lot will depend on the 19-time Isle of Man TT winner’s fitness, but if Dunlop is anywhere near his best then he should prove to be Harrison’s biggest rival.

New Zealand's Bruce Anstey will make his return to the Classic TT in the Lightweight race on a Honda RS250 for Clive Padgett.

New Zealand's Bruce Anstey will make his return to the Classic TT in the Lightweight race on a Honda RS250 for Clive Padgett.

Bruce Anstey will be cheered on as he makes his comeback following illness, although the New Zealander will concentrate on the Lightweight race next Saturday on Clive Padgett’s Honda RS250.

Yorkshireman Harrison has won the feature race for the past two years on the Silicone Engineering Kawasaki.

Setting off at number two from Glencrutchery Road, Harrison will be chasing after Horst Saiger (Greenall Racing Kawasaki), who has finished on the rostrum over the past two years.

Magherafelt’s Paul Jordan, fresh from his maiden international road racing victory in the Supertwin class at the Ulster Grand Prix, will ride for Mistral Kawasaki after impressing on his Classic TT debut in 2018.

Jordan is joined in the team by Skerries man Michael Sweeney, who takes over from Derek McGee.

Mullingar rider McGee misses the event for the second year in a row as he takes time out to focus on recovering fully from injury ahead of the 2020 season.

Jordan, who will lead the field away in the Junior race as he stands in for the injured Adam McLean on the Ripley Land Racing AJS 7R, said: “We had a good run last year at the Classic TT on the Mistral Kawasaki and I was in the running for fourth place until we hit problems on the last lap.

“That definitely helped me get the ride full-time this year with RC Express Kawasaki along with a good debut at the team at the Ulster Grand Prix and a solid result at the Macau Grand Prix.

“It’s also the chance to get more experience on the Mountain Course and that is always a big help, so hopefully we’ll have another good run this year.”

Key contenders also include Jamie Coward (Kraus/Prez Racing Kawasaki) and David Johnson (Robert Burns Ltd/Alasdair Cowan Racing Kawasaki).

Michael Rutter will ride the Team Winfield Yamaha whilst Manxman Conor Cummins will again be aboard the ex-Grand Prix Yamaha YZR500 that he rode to third place 12 months ago for Clive Padgett.

Davey Todd will also ride for the Padgett’s team on a 1989 750cc Yamaha OW01 with James Hillier returning on the Oxford Racing/Louigi Moto 888 Ducati.

The line-up also includes two-time TT winner Gary Johnson on the Team York Suzuki, while Derek Sheils joins Horst Saiger in the Greenall Kawasaki team.

Practice is scheduled to commence at 5.20pm on Saturday evening.