Hickman’s speed of 133.22mph was the fastest lap of practice week so far on the Gas Monkey Garage BMW, with the outright lap record holder also recording the first sub-17 minute time of 2022, completing the 37.73-mile Mountain Course in 16m 59.579s.
He was on course to increase his pace even further on the M1000RR on his second flying lap, but Hickman ran out of fuel, with his BMW stopping shortly after Signpost corner.
DAO Racing Kawasaki’s Dean Harrison was second fastest at 132.33mph, 6.8s down on Hickman, with the Bradford rider also clocking his fastest time from a standing start.
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Davey Todd posted his best ever TT lap at 132.187mph on the Milenco by Padgett’s Honda, while Michael Dunlop improved his best speed of practice week considerably, jumping from 129mph on Wednesday to clock 131.44mph on the Hawk Racing Suzuki from a standing start.
Manxman Conor Cummins (Milenco by Padgett’s Honda) was next at 130.867mph, with John McGuinness completing the top six in the Superbike standings at 129.278mph on the Honda Racing UK Fireblade.
Banbridge man Shaun Anderson continued to make steady progress on the Crendon by Hawk Racing Suzuki, lapping at 126.989mph which left him 10th fastest, while Paul Jordan from Magherafelt did 125.581mph on the PreZ Racing Yamaha as he slotted into 16th.
Derek Sheils was the best of the southern Irish riders, lapping at 126.495mph on the Roadhouse Macau BMW, which left him in 13th in the Thursday Superbike standings.
Cork’s Mike Browne set another personal best on the Burrows Engineering/RK Racing Suzuki, lapping at 125.076mph despite not being fully fit after breaking his ankles in a crash at the Cookstown 100.
Hickman also led the way in the Superstock times at 129.91mph from Todd (128.933mph), Cummins (128.733mph) and Ulsterman Dunlop, who switched to his MD Racing Honda and did 127.642mph.
Newcomer Glenn Irwin improved again on the Honda Racing UK Fireblade, lapping at 126.689mph, which put him eighth in the Superstock session.
In the Supersport class, 19-time TT winner Dunlop upped the ante on his MD Racing Yamaha with a lap of 126.662mph to lead Harrison by 8.6s after the Bradford man did 125.653mph.
Yorkshire’s Jamie Coward was third on the KTS/Steadplan Yamaha at 125.653mph, while Lee Johnston was fourth fastest on his Ashcourt Racing Yamaha at 125.202mph.
Both Hickman and Dunlop made it out for a late lap on their Supertwin machines and there was nothing between them, with Hickman only 0.267s faster on the VAS Engine Paton with a speed of 120.994mph, while Dunlop did 120.965mph on his Paton. Johnston was third on the Ashcourt Racing Aprilia at 118.454mph.
In the Sidecars, Nottingham brothers Ben and Tom Birchall were again fastest, lapping at 117.516mph on their LCR Honda.
The final qualifying session on Friday is scheduled for the afternoon, with roads closed from 12.30pm to 4.30pm. The organisers have the option of running an evening session in the event of inclement weather.