Isle of Man TT: Rain again hinders practice

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For the third day in a row, conditions on the Isle of Man worsened as the hours ticked by and just when Wednesday evening’s practice session was due to commence at 6.20pm, rain in the North of the Island led to a delay in proceedings.

The earlier sunshine was a distant memory and with wet roads between Milntown Cottage and the Mountain Mile it meant that organisers had little option other than to declare the session untimed once more

“The weather’s pretty shocking at the moment,” said 19-times TT winner John McGuinness. “I looked at the various webcams and it looked so wet in places, there’s not a lot we can do but it’s so disappointing for everyone. I can’t remember the last time we got to Wednesday evening and hadn’t been out on the Superbike.”

Team-mate Michael Rutter added, “I haven’t got a clue what to do and the weather’s simply no good for anyone. We’re all running out of practice time.”

Indeed, with all of the fancied runners planning on taking the big Superbikes out for the initial two laps of the session, the subsequent rain put paid to that and they returned to their garages to at least get out on the more suitable Supersport and Superstock machinery.

It was 7.15pm before the session finally got underway and it was a slightly stranger beginning than usual as the seeded riders from number 1-20 were nowhere to be seen although that did at least give some of the other competitors their chance to be at the head of the pack.

It was Ivan Lintin and Josh Brookes who were the first to leave the line with other riders including Robert Wilson, Paul Owen, Grant Wagstaff, Jamie Coward, Rob Barber, Ryan Kneen and Derek Sheils well to the fore.

However, with stationery yellow warning flags being displayed for almost a third of the lap, it was clear the riders would be doing nothing more than sighting laps.

Some of the big names did eventually make it out onto the course amongst them McGuinness (Supersport), Michael Rutter (Superstock), Bruce Anstey (Supersport), Conor Cummins (Superstock) and Guy Martin (Superstock) but Michael Dunlop, Gary Johnson and Dan Stewart opted not to go out at all.

That proved to be a wise decision as before long reports around the course were that the rain showers were increasing in frequency with Ballacraine onwards now seeing wet roads and displayed yellow flags.

Indeed, most riders pulled in after one lap citing conditions to precarious and slippy but some did continue for two, primarily the newcomers notably Brookes, Raphael Paschaolin, Horst Saiger and Sam Wilson.

At 8pm, it was the turn of the F2 Sidecars who were getting their first track action since Saturday and all of the crews took full advantage of the time allotted, despite the still inclement conditions.

The only exception was Dave Molyneux/Patrick Farrance who decided not to participate and whilst a few of the teams did put in two laps, many, like the solos, just had the solitary lap.

With just two more practice sessions to go, it’s now vital that Thursday sees good weather and the Superbikes out on track prior to their 6-lap race on Saturday.

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Phil Wain

By Phil Wain