The 35-year-old put Sunday’s electrical issue with the Gas Monkey Garage behind him to wind up the wick, clocking a 129.37mph lap from a standing start before improving to 130.719mph in only his second fast lap so far on the M1000RR Superbike in TT practice.
Even at this early stage, his outright lap record of 135.452mph – set on the final lap of the 2018 Senior as he battled for victory with Dean Harrison – looks set to be broken.
Any projections of slower speeds at the TT this year after back-to-back cancellations in 2020 and 2021 due to the Covid-19 pandemic have been wiped out after two strong opening qualifying sessions, although the prospect of rain on Tuesday evening may temporarily delay any 132mph or 133mph laps until a little later this week if the schedule is interrupted.
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Hickman’s 130mph lap put him seven seconds ahead of old sparring partner and 2019 Senior winner Dean Harrison (DAO Racing Kawasaki), who lapped at 129.836mph.
The impressive Davey Todd only did one lap on his Milenco by Padgett’s Superbike after going out for two laps on his Superstock machine, but the 26-year-old’s time was still good enough for third last night, with Todd managing 128.014mph from a standing start. His best Superstock lap, which topped the leaderboard for the class, was even faster at 129.58mph.
Pacesetter Hickman said: “We had a bit of an electrical problem with the Superbike on Sunday, so I only did one lap at 119mph.
“The bike was fine in fourth, fifth and sixth gears, but the first three gears were a problem. It took me a while to work out what was going on.
“The bike would stutter and then clear itself, so I made sure I stayed out of everyone’s way and just rode it back,” he added.
“But we’ve got it sorted and it felt alright out there. I’m happy enough and I was pretty chilled out from the start. Those were my first two proper laps on that bike and conditions were better than I thought they would be.”
Hickman also led the way on his Trooper Beer Triumph 765 after taking his Supersport bike out for a single lap, setting a speed of 122.324mph to lead Magherafelt man Paul Jordan (PreZ Racing Yamaha), who did 121.711mph, while 2019 winner Lee Johnston was third quickest on his Ashcourt Racing Yamaha at 121.353mph.
“I only rode the Triumph for the first time ever on Sunday,” Hickman said.
“I was just bedding in new brakes and pads but the bike never missed a beat and it sounded absolutely ace going through Kirk Michael, with the sound echoing off the houses.
“It’s got a Moto2 Akrapovic pipe fitted to it and it sounds awesome.”
Ulsterman Michael Dunlop did three laps on his Hawk Racing Suzuki GSX-R1000RR after significant changes were made to the bike from Sunday, when the 33-year-old was reportedly unhappy with the set-up of the machine.
Dunlop’s quickest lap of 127.944mph placed him fourth in the Superbike times, with 23-time TT winner John McGuinness slotting into fifth with a 127.771mph lap.
Sam West was sixth quickest at 126.903mph on his BMW. The Cheshire rider was later involved in a crash at Laurel Bank, which caused a red flag a few minutes before the qualifying session was officially due to end.
A fire was reported at the scene, which was quickly extinguished. West sustained leg and hand injuries in the crash and was airlifted to Noble’s Hospital.
Following West’s accident, the scheduled Sidecar session was cancelled.
A number of other riders also came off, including Irish road racing regular Michael Sweeney, who went down at the 11th Milestone. The Skerries man was described as having possible arm and leg injuries, and was airlifted to Noble’s.
James Chawke and Jonathan Perry crashed at Union Mills and Cruickshanks respectively, escaping injury, while newcomer Ilja Cajouw came off at the 27th Milestone. The Dutchman was later discharged from hospital.
In the Superstock class, Todd’s 129mph lap gave him the top spot by 13.714s from team-mate and Manx favourite Conor Cummins (127.91mph), while Dunlop was third on his MD Racing Honda at 126.597mph after completing a single lap on the Fireblade.
Manx resident Nathan Harrison, competing at the TT for the first time after winning the Manx Grand Prix in 2019, impressed in fifth on his Honda, lapping at 125.67mph.
OMG Yamaha’s James Hillier was next (125.061mph) with Shaun Anderson from Banbridge sixth quickest on the Hawk Suzuki at 124.649mph ahead of McGuinness (124.602mph).
Cork’s Mike Browne, back in action at the TT after missing the Tandragee 100 and North West 200 through injury after breaking his ankles in a crash at the Cookstown 100 in April, was 14th on the Burrows Engineering/RK Suzuki after doing one lap.
Brown was also 10th fastest in the Supersport class on the Burrows Yamaha, completing two laps on the YZF-R6.