Peter Hickman’s stranglehold on Superbike qualifying continued on Friday as he lapped at 132.874mph on the Gas Monkey Garage by FHO Racing BMW despite damp conditions in the north of the Island.
Elsewhere, Michael Dunlop was the man of the moment as he topped the Superstock (129.299mph), Supersport (125.04mph) and Supertwin (120.303mph) leaderboards, whilst newcomer Glenn Irwin again left everyone in awe with a new personal best lap of 128.268mph making him the fifth fastest Superbike on the night.
The damp conditions meant it was the Supersport/Supertwin machines who were the first to take to the Mountain Course and it was 7.18pm before the Superbikes went out on track, Dunlop (Hawk Racing) setting off towards Bray Hill first with Michael Rutter (Bathams Ales), Ian Hutchinson (Milwaukee BMW Motorrad) and Craig Neve (Callmac Scaffolding) next to go.
It was Hickman who set the pace on the first lap though, and although Dunlop (129.346mph) was the first to cross the line, Hickman was some 15s quicker at 131.241mph. Jamie Coward (127.546mph) placed third ahead of Irwin (126.196mph), James Hillier (125.958mph) and Shaun Anderson (125.502mph). Mike Browne (124.752mph) was next up in seventh.
A number of leading contenders went out first on their Superstock machines with Dean Harrison (DAO Racing Kawasaki) the early pacesetter at 127.853mph, followed by Conor Cummins (127.635mph), Neve (124.783mph), Nathan Harrison (124.313mph) and Brian McCormack (124.142mph).
As riders got more used to the conditions on lap two, the speeds improved especially Hickman’s as he flashed across the line at 132.876mph, no mean feat given the damp patches in the north of the Island. Hillier (127.449mph) also improved but was soon back down in seventh as Harrison (128.56mph) and Lee Johnston (128.503mph) both overhauled him as did Irwin who posted the aforementioned 128.268mph lap! That put him fifth quickest with Browne deserving another mention as he again went quicker at 125.54mph.
The earlier Supersport/Supertwin session saw Dunlop lead the riders away on his Paton Supertwin and he was swiftly followed by Hillier (RICH Energy OMG Racing), John McGuinness MBE (SMT Racing/Blue Earth Construction), Harrison (DAO Racing Kawasaki) and Hutchinson (Boyce Precision by Russell Racing).
Those four were all Supersport-mounted as were Davey Todd, Hickman and Conor Cummins but Johnston, Gary Johnson and Dominic Herbertson had all chosen their Supertwin machines for their first lap of the evening. The latter soon stopped though at Union Mills.
Harrison and Hickman set the pace to Ramsey with Todd in third but the live coverage on TT+ later caught the latter’s Honda expiring in a plume of smoke just after the Mountain Mile, eventually pulling in at the Mountain Box.
The damp patches kept the times down a little with Harrison (123.044mph), Hutchinson (122.717mph) and Hickman (121.981mph) the leading three 600cc machines first time around closely followed by Cummins (121.779mph), Paul Jordan (121.388mph) and Hillier (121.295mph). Dunlop was the quickest Supertwin (120.303mph), immediately pitting to switch to his Supersport machine, ahead of Johnston (116.06mph) and Rob Hodson (115.04mph).
The second lap saw a similar pace from Hutchinson (122.61mph) but Hickman upped his tempo considerably to 124.835mph, moving him to the top of the leaderboard, although it didn’t last long as Dunlop soon took over after lapping 1.7s quicker at 125.04mph. Cummins (123.524mph) moved up to third, pushing Harrison and Hutchinson down to fourth and fifth, with Browne going well again at 121.889mph.
Dunlop’s Supertwin time remained untouched as did Johnston’s but Jordan (PreZ Racing by Prosper2) squeezed between them with a lap of 116.371mph. Hodson increased his speed to 115.856mph and placed fourth ahead of Michael Evans (114.65mph) and newcomer Joe Loughlin (114.261mph).
An incident at Joey’s involving Supersport, Number 46, Mike Booth as well as a burst water main at Cronk ny Mona meant the Sidecars were confined to just one lap ahead of their race tomorrow. It was Peter Founds/Jevan Walmsley who were quickest at 115.441mph followed by Ryan and Callum Crowe (114.276mph), Lewis Blackstock/Patrick Rosney (111.008mph), Dave Molyneux/Daryl Gibson (109.312mph), Paul Leglise/Melanie Farnier (108.634mph) and Conrad Harrison/Andy Winkle (107.761mph).
Having dominated the sidecar qualifying sessions so far, the Birchalls started the session before pulling off the course shortly afterwards. Elsewhere there was disappointment for John Holden as he’s been forced to withdraw from the event due to a lack of suitable passenger, newcomer Jason Pitt pulling out due to lack of experience and substitute Dan Sayle’s previous injuries seeing him unable to compete at the optimum level.