ISLE OF MAN – Competitors were finally able to get some much-needed track time after three days of cancelations at the during Classic TT presented by Bennetts as the TT Mountain Course on Thursday.
The session got underway at 6:20 p.m. after the earlier afternoon session had been rained out. Although the grandstand was bathed in sunshine at the start of the session, Clerk of the Course Gary Thompson advised riders that there were a number of damp patches around the course, particularly under the trees, which would be highlighted with stationery flags.
The opening session featured the Senior and Junior Classic TT machines, who started from pit lane, although the Lightweight machines were also permitted to run in the earlier session. John McGuinness and Michael Rutter and were first away from Glencrutchery Road on the Team Winfield Paton and the Ripley Land Racing Matchless, respectively, that they will race in Saturday’s Bennetts Senior TT Race. Dan Sayle was one of the riders who took his Lightweight machine out in the earlier session.
The leading pair made good progress to the first checkpoint at Ballacraine, but Dean Harrison, on his Laylaw Racing 250 Yamaha, was reported as an early retirement at Ballacraine, although he at least managed to get a lift back to the grandstand.
John McGuinness continued to belie his two-year absence from the Mountain Course with an opening lap of 104.270 and went straight through as did a number of other competitors putting the frustration the week behind them to rack up some vital Mountain Course miles.
Michael Rutter enjoyed no such luck after retiring on the opening lap at the Mountain Box and, therefore, was stuck out on the course, which caused him to miss out on valuable track time. McGuinness posted a second lap of 106.585 mph and McGuinness told Radio TT’s Chris Kinley in pit lane after his second lap that it was great to be back on the Mountain Course.
Jamie Coward, on the Ted Woof Craven Manx Norton, posted a pair of 103 mph laps while Chris Swallow riding a Linsdell Enfield, Lee Johnston (Davies Motorsport Honda), Ian Lougher (John Chapman Racing Honda) and Maria Costello (Team Beugger Racing Honda) all posted 100+ mph laps.
Dan Sayle showed his two stroke talent with the overall fastest lap of the evening (109.406 mph), although gear linkage issues on his second lap forced him to stop at Sulby while Charles Rhys Hardisty also went well in the Lightweight class with two 104 mph laps.
In the concurrent Junior session Phil McGurk was quickest on the night with an opening lap of 95.988 mph over Adam McLean (95.054 mph) and Peter Boast (94.558 mph) with Chris McGahan (93.055 mph) and Mark Herbertson (92.464 mph) completing the top five for the session.
However, with the Superbikes in Parc Ferme itching to get on the track, at 7:15 p.m. the weather gods again betrayed the riders. With reports of rain at Kirk Michael and wet roads on the West of the Island and the Mountain section, Clerk of the Course Gary Thompson had no option but to cancel the second session.