After a weather-beaten start – the 2017 Isle of Man TT fuelled by Monster Energy is now in full effect. Fog, storms, and heavy showers had blanked-out and lashed the legendary 37.73miles Snaefell Mountain Course, meaning riders were confined to their awnings, and unable to clock-up all important practice laps.
Mercifully, however come Friday evening, the sun amped up and burnt off the bad weather giving everyone a much needed shot to dial in their machinery ahead of the condensed schedule of practice and qualifying.
With 23 time TT winner and Mountain Course legend John McGuinness ruled out of competition due to his shock crash at the North West 200 three weeks ago; it would be a dual M-Claw assault on the mountain by Michael Dunlop and Ian Hutchinson.
Neither Dunlop or Hutchinson wasted any time in getting up to speed; immediately raising the bar in the Supersport and Superbike categories. Current lap record holder, and 13-time TT winner Dunlop stamped his authority on the big bikes; throwing his leg over his 2017-specification Bennetts Suzuki GSXR-1000.
Weaving his way between the stone walls, kerbs, and street furniture with laser-guided precision; Dunlop posted a lap time of 17:16.361 at a blistering average speed of 131.062 mph to top the Saturday qualifying sheets for the RST Superbike race.
“It’s just been great to get out there and get laps in,” explained Dunlop. You never can predict the weather on the Island – and you always hope that the sun is out for TT fortnight. Today was a good run on the big bike. It’s definitely a good start; there’s still a long way to go, so we’ll be pushing even harder in the races.”
Hutchy told us: “It’s been a challenging TT practice week for everyone, with the bad weather we’ve had to be honest. The sun came out today, and we’ve now got some decent laps in. We have had a couple of little problems on the Superbike, but it’s still running well. I got one lap on the Superstocker and managed a 129.53mph lap. We’ve still got all the racing to go, so we just need to get our head down and go as fast as possible.”
The racing gets underway in earnest now, starting with the 6-lap RST Superbike race on Sunday afternoon (4th July). Keep it locked with us to follow all the action, and find out how Michael Dunlop and Ian Hutchinson get on in the world’s fastest and most intense road race.