After the excitement of the previous night’s first 130mph+ lap, it was the veteran competitors that showed the young pretenders the way in Thursday’s qualifying session for the 2012 Isle of Man TT Races.
In the solo class Kiwi Bruce Anstey and the evergreen Michael Rutter, both in their forties, posted the top Superbike times of the evening while fellow veteran Dave Molyneux overtook Tim Reeves’ fastest time of the week set the previous evening.
Anstey and Rutter circulated in close formation and, on their second Superbike lap the duo lapped at 128.815mph and 128.072mph respectively, despite there being a number of damp patches in the Glen Helen section and the light fading rapidly.
“That wasn’t a bad run at all,” said Rutter. “The bike was working a lot better than the previous night and the only problem was when I started to run out of fuel at the Creg.
"It was good to follow Bruce around for the majority of the lap and it was interesting to see what lines he was using. You never stop learning around this place so it was a good lap to do.”
Overnight and morning rain had put the session in doubt but the weather cleared up in time it to get underway and once the sidecars had completed their session, the Supersport and Lightweight session commenced just after 7.10pm.
Guy Martin and Bruce Anstey were first to leave the line although it was Michael Dunlop who was the quickest on the opening lap at 124.650mph closely followed by Anstey (123.649), Gary Johnson (123.638), Martin (122.639) and John McGuinness (122.349) whilst Ian Lougher was the quickest Lightweight machine with a lap of 113.023mph.
“Conditions were pretty good,” said McGuinness. “There’s no sun to worry us and there’s no wind anywhere so it was an enjoyable lap.
"The track had dried up quite a lot but there were still a few damp patches around Laurel Bank, Glen Helen and Sarah’s Cottage, the usual places to be fair. It’s always good fun on the 600 though, you just jump on it and ride the wheels off the thing.”
However, the session had only been up and running for just over ten minutes when the red flag was being displayed from the startline to Cronk y Voddy.
Newcomer Stefan Holtz had crashed at Sarah’s, sustaining an arm injury, and there was a 25-minute delay before practice resumed at 8.05pm with the session for Superbike, Superstock and Supersport machines.
Michael Dunlop was forced to stop at Ramsey Hairpin when some debris got caught in his radiator but Gary Johnson, James Hillier and Ian Hutchinson had no such problems and all completed their laps in excess of 125mph although Guy Martin was the quickest at 126.939mph. William Dunlop was once again the quickest 600.
Anstey and Rutter then put in their fast laps towards the end of the session but there were a number of high profile retirements in the closing stages with Hutchinson, Lougher, Ryan Farquhar and Lee Johnston all being forced to stop.
Good laps again came from Australian David Johnson and Steve Mercer, none the worse from his spill at Ballaugh Bridge the previous night whilst Karl Harris became the fastest newcomer of the week so far with a lap of 119.017mph.
Molyneux had earlier topped the session with his second lap being 113.538mph, the quickest of the week, with Tim Reeves/Dan Sayle on 112.218mph, Gary Bryan/Jamie Winn 110.781mph and Ben Birchall, back in action after their Monday night spill at Brandywell on 110.027mph.
Hutchinson, Lougher, Farquhar, Lee Johnston, Simon Fulton and Michael Niblett were all posted as retirements whilst Karl Harris was the fastest newcomer at 119.017mph.