TT: Norton and Johnson to set off from number one spot, McGuinness fifth

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The booming sound of Norton’s V4 TT racer will be the first thing heard setting off down Bray Hill to kick off racing at this year’s Isle of Man TT after the British marque and Aussie star Dave Johnson are promoted to the top of the start list.

Johnson, who lapped the course with an impressive average speed of 130.8mph on the Norton last year on his way to seventh in the Superbike TT, will be the first to head off from the start line on Glencrutchery road as TT legend John McGuinness moves back to fifth to start in between rivals Ian Hutchinson and Michael Dunlop.

The move sees McGuinness relinquish the number one spot for just the second time since 2011, the other being when he ran the number three in 2014 as a tribute to Joey Dunlop.

Bruce Anstey will start second on the Padgetts Honda, although it’s not known at this stage whether he’ll be setting off on the all-new Fireblade SP or the RC213V-S MotoGP replica he rode last year. James Hillier sets off at number three, ten seconds ahead ahead of Ian Hutchinson who is gunning for glory in the Superbike and Senior races after switching from Metzeler to Dunlop tyres this year.


Dunlop will take the Bennetts Suzuki off the line from his usual sixth spot, ahead of Conor Cummins who moves to seventh from his regular number ten as he switches from the factory Honda squad to Clive Padgett’s team.

Guy Martin will start at his now famous number eight on his return to the TT for Honda Racing, ahead of three-time podium man from 2016 Dean Harrison.

Peter Hickman starts tenth for Smiths BMW, ahead of Michael Rutter and Gary Johnson with Lee Johnston resuming his customary number 13th.

Dan Kneen will fire the BMW off the line from 14th, while William Dunlop, who is still to confirm whether he’ll continue with Halsall Racing this season after plans to run BMW machinery are rumoured to have fallen through, will start 15th.

The second Norton of Josh Brookes will start 16th as he returns to the mountain course for the first time since 2014, ahead of Steve Mercer and Martin Jessopp. Dan Hegarty and Ivan Lintin round out the top 20 seeded riders.

Read a full analysis of this year’s TT start numbers by MCN’s road racing expert, Stephen Davison, in this week’s MCN. 


  1. David Johnson – Norton
  2. Bruce Anstey – Padgetts Honda
  3. James Hillier – JG Speedfit Kawasaki
  4. Ian Hutchinson – Tyco BMW
  5. John McGuinness – Honda Racing
  6. Michael Dunlop – Bennetts Suzuki
  7. Conor Cummins – Padgetts Honda
  8. Guy Martin – Honda Racing
  9. Dean Harrison – Silicone Engineering Kawasaki
  10. Peter Hickman – Smiths BMW
  11. Michael Rutter – Bathams BMW
  12. Gary Johnson – TBC
  13. Lee Johnston – Jackson Racing Honda
  14. Dan Kneen – BMW
  15. William Dunlop – TBC
  16. Josh Brookes – Norton
  17. Steve Mercer – RC Express Kawasaki
  18. Martin Jessopp – Riders Motorcycles BMW
  19. Dan Hegarty – Top Gun Racing
  20. Ivan Lintin – RC Express Kawasaki

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Oli Rushby

By Oli Rushby

Former sports reporter covering British Superbikes, World Superbikes and road racing