After the heroic speeds of Cameron Donald and Michael Dunlop on Thursday evening, a sense of normality was restored to the Isle of Man TT races on Friday but Donald was once again in the headlines though, sadly, for all the wrong reasons this time.
Out on his Superstock machine, the Australian went down at Keppel Gate on his first lap and was taken to hospital by helicopter where he was said to be conscious but suffering from a dislocated shoulder. The spill means he is almost certain to miss all five solo races.
It was Guy Martin who was fastest, lapping at 129.013mph on a day that saw wind and rain in the morning giving way to pleasant conditions in the evening although temperatures on the Mountain were down to seven degrees.
The Hydrex Honda man has had considerable stability issues thus far and has yet to break the 130mph barrier but remains consistently in the 129mph bracket and if he can find the last 1% he needs he must be in contention for the win with John McGuinness and Bruce Anstey, arguably, the main two contenders.
Anstey skipped tonight’s session completely, declaring himself happy with all of his bikes and the laid back Kiwi opted to go shopping instead whilst McGuinness put in two laps each on both his Superstock and Supersport machines.
Ryan Farquhar was the first rider to report that the yellow flags were out due to the incident involving Donald but his lap of 126.734mph was still his best of the week on the Alf’s Motorcycles Kawasaki.
Michael Rutter was out for the first time on the 600cc JMF/Millsport Yamaha although he was again out of luck as he suffered a flat battery coming through Ramsey and he limped over the line with a 117mph lap. He missed the rest of the session as his Suzuki Superbike was still being repaired after blowing a head gasket the previous night.
Carl Rennie was going well once more with a speed of 126.57 on the WA Corless/Jackson Racing Suzuki but it was Plater who went to the top of the Royal London 360◦ Superstock leaderboard with a lap of 126.93 on his Padgetts Honda ahead of Hutchinson, Amor.
Michael Dunlop’s unofficial Supersport lap record on Thursday remained untouched but elder brother William ensured the family name was again well to the fore and he topped the class tonight with a lap of 123.345mph.
Meanwhile, Steve Mercer became the first newcomer to break the 120mph mark with a lap of 120.336 just ahead of impressive Portuguese debutante Luis Carreira on 119.754.
Final Practice leaderboard:
1 Cameron Donald (Relentless by TAS Suzuki) - 131.457 mph
2 John McGuinness (HM Plant Honda) - 130.171mph
3 Bruce Anstey (Relentless by TAS Suzuki) - 130.129mph
4 Guy Martin (Hydrex Honda) - 129.168mph
5 Ian Hutchinson (Padgetts Honda) - 129.027mph
6 Steve Plater (Honda) - 128.982mph
Royal London 360◦ Superstock
1 Steve Plater (Padgetts Honda) - 126.93 mph
2 Ian Hutchinson (Padgetts Honda) - 126.849mph
3 Keith Amor (Wilson Craig Honda) - 126.769mph
4 Cameron Donald (Relentless by TAS Suzuki) - 126.436mph
5 Carl Rennie (WA Corless/Jackson Racing Suzuki) – 126.252mph
6 Guy Martin (Hydrex Honda) - 126.054mph
1 Michael Dunlop (Street Sweep/Marlow Construction Yamaha) – 126.299mph
2 Ian Hutchinson (Padgetts Honda) – 125.182mph
3 Keith Amor (Wilson Craig Honda) - 124.223mph
4 Bruce Anstey (Relentless by TAS Suzuki) - 123.875mph
5 John McGuinness (HM Plant Honda) - 123.867mph
6 Steve Plater (Honda) - 123.397mph
1 Nick Crowe/Mark Cox (HM Plant Honda) – 116.063mph
2 Dave Molyneux/Daniel Sayle (A&J Racing Suzuki) – 114.697mph
3 Phil Dongworth/Gary Partridge (WAS Autocentre Honda) – 113.355mph
4 John Holden/Andy Winkle (Suzuki) – 112.344mph
5 Klaus Klaffenbock/Darren Hope (Manx Gas Racing Honda) – 112.242mph
6 Tim Reeves/Patrick Farrance (Team Prof Dr Sallmon Suzuki) – 112.090mph