Isle of Man TT: McGuinness and Anstey set the pace as Brookes continues to impress

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At the fourth time of asking, practice for the 2013 Isle of Man TT races went ahead exactly as scheduled and with conditions around the Mountain Course ideal, the lap times soon edged close to the 130mph mark with John McGuinness topping the session at 129.323mph, just ahead of Bruce Anstey on 129.144mph.

BSB star and circuit newcomer Josh Brookes also impressed with a lap of 121.986mph and with dry roads, good visibility and sunny intervals, it was good to see the Superbikes finally let loose in anger.

Needless to say, it was little surprise to see all the fancied runners go out on those machines first with James Hillier and Gary Johnson the first riders to blast off down Glenctruchery Road.

“Conditions are ideal,” said Hillier. “but this is where the work starts. We’ve been up to Jurby to try a few things out so hopefully we’ll get some good laps in tonight and see where we are.”

Johnson added, “It’s always a bit daunting setting off for your first lap on a Superbike, especially at this late stage of the week but I’m looking forward to it.”

They were soon followed by Cameron Donald, Michael Rutter, Guy Martin, Bruce Anstey, Michael Dunlop and Dan Kneen but the last two were soon reported to be in trouble, Dunlop pulling off the course in Glen Vine after the gear lever worked its way loose and Kneen only getting to the Highlander.

First to complete the lap was Johnson at 125.73 with Rutter going slightly quicker at 125.76 although they were both upstaged significantly by Martin who lapped at a shade under 128mph.

John McGuinness’ opening lap was a more leisurely 120.25 as he stopped briefly at Ballacraine whilst Dunlop had managed to get back to the pits and rejoined the action on his 600cc machine, lapping at 122.67.

A few riders stopped to make adjustments but many carried straight through with Anstey briefly going to the top of the leaderboard with a lap of 128.05.

McGuinness soon bettered that with a speed of 129.07 but other riders were encountering problems, Dan Stewart stopping at Ramsey Hairpin and Conor Cummins at Governor’s Bridge, the latter out of fuel on the Milwaukee Yamaha.

Anstey and McGuinness both pitted at the end of the second lap for fresh rubber but on their fourth lap they both broke the 129mph barrier with the Kiwi on 129.14 and the Morecambe Missile on 129.32.

“It’s all happening on a Superbike, that’s for sure,” said McGuinness. “I heard a bit of a noise on the first few miles so stopped at Ballacraine just to check everything and then got going again. It was a bit windy but otherwise the conditions were good.

"I changed the rear tyre and that fourth lap felt a lot quicker so I was a bit disappointed that it was only fractionally better than the second lap. It’s working well though and I feel at home so we’re good to go.”

The two Norton machines were also out on track, in the hands of Ian Mackman and Daniel Hegarty, with Mackman lapping at a solid 119.55mph.

Dave Molyneux/Patrick Farrance were quickest in the Formula Two sidecar class, their lap of 113.558mph, just edging out Tim Reeves/Dan Sayle on 113.146.

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Phil Wain

By Phil Wain