Isle of Man TT blog: Anstey setting pace

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I can't believe how busy the Island is so early. Normally things are quiet early in the week then there's a huge influx of visitors on the Thursday and the atmosphere comes alive.

This year I was surprised by how many bikes there were along the prom on Tuesday when I arrived and today it was just mayhem on the lay-by up by the pits, with a huge number of road bikes parked up and race fans just milling around – the kind of busy-busy you expect in race week.

Must check out if there's some new phenomenon of some people coming over just for practice week or the numbers are up for the entire fortnight! 

With practice not starting till after six in the evening, the great thing in the first week of the TT is that you get the day to wander around the paddock talking bikes with the riders and teams – before the serious stuff starts.

I don't want this to sound like I'm name checking, but getting an hour-long interview with John McGuinness (specifically for the next issue of MCN Sport – on sale early Jule) is always something a little special. As I said in the MCN TT Preview supplement, there's just so much passion, so much insight with John that you can't help get carried along for the ride!

I also got to spend some time with Cameron Donald. I didn’t realise how much of a dirt-track racing nut Cam was until I asked him if he had to take one last ride, what bike and what track – and got an instant reply; 'factory XR750, Springfield Mile.'

Now to a fellow dirt-track fan that was absolute (v-twin thunderous) music to my ears. Instead of talking TT we ended up chewing the fat over Cam’s dirt-track racing exploits. So if you’re reading this Peter Boast (the man who runs dirt-track racing under the Shorttrack UK banner), sign the boy up!

Practice tonight was certainly full of drama. Things are stacking up against Michael Dunlop after breaking down on his first flying lap on the Street Sweep PBM Kawasaki superbike. Dunlop did 128.26mph on his standing-start lap – fourth fastest on the timesheets - but Guy Martin said he saw the bike expire at the end of Sulby. "I saw the oil coming out of the fairing first and then out of the exhaust and he pulled over."

Being stranded out on the course, meant Dunlop missed the rest of the session, and having lost time on Monday night with a dropped valve in his superbike, he’s way down on track time compared to his main rivals.

The other top rider in trouble was Keith Amor who crashed his superstock Honda at Quarter Bridge and injured his shoulder. He suffered a minor separation of his AC joint in his shoulder and says that he’ll rest up tomorrow and should be good to go again on Friday night. He earlier posted a time good enough to place him sixth on his Honda TT Legends superbike.

The man setting the pace tonight was Bruce Anstey with a 129.69mph lap on his Padgetts Honda. As ever, the Kiwi was nonchalantly dismissing his performance. "I was just cruising," he joked. "We've still got a couple of small changes to make to the bike but we’re not far off." Anstey also posted a 127.69 lap to top the Superstock class by some 3mph and 28s ahead of nearest rival Ryan Farquhar on KMR Kawasaki.

Guy Martin was second fastest in Superbike with a lap of 129.33 on the Relentless by TAS Suzuki but reckons he's still not full up to speed and still needs to make a couple of minor tweaks to his GSX-R1000 to make the bike turn even sweeter.
Cameron Donald was fifth fastest tonight on the Wilson Craig Honda ahead of Amor, Dan Stewart, Michael Rutter, John McGuinness and William Dunlop.

Really impressive was TT rookie Simon Andrews with a lap of 119.45 on the Ice Valley BMW. He said he wanted 120mph tonight but that was thwarted by fuel starvation under braking from the Creg onwards.

Donald also topped tonight's Supersport practice with a lap of 125.11 – not quite enough to topple Michael Dunlop who remains top of the leaderboard thanks to his 125.46 set on Tuesday night.

William Dunlop posted a 123.95 for second quickest, completing a great evening for Wilson Craig's team. Martin was third quickest ahead of Manxman Dan Kneen, looking impressive on the Marks Bloom Yamaha.  

John McGuinness though was reported stopped at the Mountain Mile making adjustments and came back to the pits reporting a misfire with his Padgetts CBR600RR. 

Practice continues tonight (Thursday) traditionally the day for some really quick times. The forecast is for the good weather to have started a trend that is forecast to continue into the weekend.  

Read the latest stories causing a buzz this week in Sport…

Gary Pinchin

By Gary Pinchin