Ryan Farquhar set his fastest ever lap in the Lightweight class as the Ulster rider topped Saturday’s opening practice times at the Isle of Man TT.
Farquhar, who returned to the top step in the opening Supertwin race on his SGS/KMR Kawasaki at the North West 200, clocked 117.12mph to head Lincolnshire’s Gary Johnson on the WK Bikes/CF Moto machine, who lapped at 117.02mph as the pair circulated together.
“That’s the fastest I’ve ever lapped on a Supertwin at the TT and I was surprised by the speed because it was blowing a gale, especially up on the Mountain,” Farquhar said.
“I towed Gary around with me and he passed me a few times on the brakes, but my bike was faster than his and I was able to pull out and pass him.
“I was just taking it steady but it’s a case of so far, so good and we’ll see what happens now the rest of the week.”
The Lightweight competitors completed their full practice session, although Clerk of the Course Gary Thompson called the evening to a halt prematurely as rain began to fall at various points around the course, with the F2 Sidecar crews missing out on their chance to complete their opening laps of 2015.
Following speed controlled laps for the solo and sidecar newcomers led by TT Rider Liaison Officers Richard ‘Milky’ Quayle and John Barton on Saturday, the Lightweight competitors set off down Glencrutchery Road, with Ballyclare’s Jamie Hamilton and Skerries man Michael Sweeney having the honour of being first away.
They were followed in quick succession by Junior Manx Grand Prix winner Andy Lawson and Dan Cooper, Michael Rutter and James Hillier and Ivan Lintin and Martin Jessopp.
Hillier was quickest through the Sulby speed trap at 156mph on the Quattro Plant Kawasaki ER6.
The first rider to complete the lap was Hamilton on John Burrows’ Kawasaki at 112.19mph, swiftly followed by Sweeney (111.18mph) and Lintin on the RC Express Kawasaki, who briefly went quickest at 114.64mph.
Hillier also lapped in excess of 112mph but the quickest two riders on the opening lap were Johnson and Farquhar.
The duo had left the line together and lapped at 114.866mph and 114.827mph respectively with Fermanagh’s Lee Johnston, also riding a Kawasaki for Farquhar’s SGS/KMR Kawasaki team, impressing first time out at 113.32mph.
On the second lap Farquhar and Johnson were still in close contention on the road and increased their speeds with the Dungannon team owner posting the fastest time from Johnson, with Lintin also improving to 116.60mph.
North West 200 Superstock race winner Johnston improved to 115.40mph with Cooper slotting into fifth overall at 113.41mph.
Solo newcomers in action for the first time included Tom McHale, former World Supersport rider Robbin Harms and Franck Petricola, who was badly injured in a crash at the North West 200 last year.
Mullingar’s Derek McGee, Dan Harrison and Geoffrey Vankoekelnbergh also completed their first laps on closed roads at the TT, with McGee lapping at 107.60mph on his Lightweight machine.