Morecambe's John McGuinness immediately threw the gauntlet down in Monday evening's opening practice session for the 2012 Isle of Man TT Races with the Honda TT Legends rider setting the fastest lap of the night at 128.266mph.
Despite encountering problems on his opening lap, the 17-times TT winner was able to get back out on track and after a quick lap on his Padgetts Honda Superstock machine, two rapid laps on the Superbike late in the session saw him comfortably top the leaderboard.
Conditions on the Island were again near perfect with the day again blessed by clear blue skies and warm sunshine although it was the latter that caused problems as it got lower in the sky as the evening wore on. John's initial plan was to take the Honda TT Legends Superbike machine out for two laps but halfway round the first lap, it was clear all was not well and after a slow lap of 111.23mph, John pulled into the pits. As the team changed the rear shock absorber, John went out on the Padgett's Superstock machine for a lap before resuming on the Superbike.
The changes had clearly worked and, after a lap of 126.116mph, he went quicker still on his final lap of the evening and with just minutes of the session remaining he crossed the line with a speed of 128.266mph, almost 2mph quicker than second placed Cameron Donald. And all achieved when there was traffic to encounter and when the sun was at it's lowest, and worst.
"I'm always a bit nervous for the first evening of practice and this year was no different. The weather on the Island's been superb and I've just been chilling out for a few days but the nerves crept in as I got ready to take the big Superbike out. The plan was to get two laps in straightaway but not far into the first lap I could tell the bike wasn't right so I cruised round and pulled in to the pits, which allowed the boys to change the rear shock absorber," said McGuinness.
"After a steady lap on the 'stocker, I went back out for two laps on the Superbike and it felt better so I had a bit of a go and managed to get two good laps in. The biggest problem was the sun and at places like Appledene and Greeba Bridge, as well as a couple of spots over the Mountain, it was really treacherous, so I had to be really cautious. It's very early days but it's a solid start so we'll just keep doing what we're doing and hope to continue in the same vein."