ISLE OF MAN – The 2014 Isle of Man TT Races fueled by Monster Energy gets underway this evening as newcomers get on track for the first time.
High profile riders to look out for include Danny Webb, Martin Jessopp and Peter Hickman who are scheduled to get their first closed road lap of the course. Sidecar newcomers will also get their first Mountain Course laps in when their speed controlled lap. Experienced ex-competitor Ian Lougher, a ten-time TT race winner, and TT rider liaison officers John Barton and Richard Quayle are due to show the riders round.
Tonight’s timed session is due to start with the Lightweight class. Interest is undoubtedly growing in the SuperTwin class, which was introduced in 2012. The returning Keith Amor and Ryan Farquhar, representing Farquhar’s SGS International/KMR Kawasaki outfit get their first Mountain Course laps for three and two years respectively, while the newcomers across all classes will also get their first chance of an officially timed lap in the same session.
James Hillier, Michael Rutter, Gary Johnson, Guy Martin, Dean Harrison, Lee Johnson, Michael Dunlop and Ivan Lintin, who has the honour of carrying the No. 1 plate in the Lightweight class, are all expected to be race win contenders and will be looking to get some quality laps under their belts.
The sidecar qualifying session will be the first chance to see how the change back to open regulations is going to affect the lap times. Sixteen-time race winner Dave Molyneux and his passenger Patrick Farrance are the pre-race favorites but last year’s winners Tim Reeves, with passenger Greg Cluze and the Birchalls will be keen to establish their credentials although there’ll be missing from tonight’s action due to contesting the World Championship round at Donington Park.
John Holden and Andy Winkle, popular winners in 2011, the returning 2003 champion Ian Bell, racing with son Carl, and Conrad Harrison/Mike Aylott are also expected to feature high up on the qualifying leader board.
Monday’s session will feature the Supersport, Superstock and Superbikes for the first time of the 2014 festival and attention will undoubtedly be focused on the appearances of Michael Dunlop on his factory backed BMW and the start of his head to head with Honda Racing rider John McGuinness, the latter eager to prove his fitness after his recent wrist injury. The leading pair will both be looking to put down early markers in the Superbike class after their respective Dainese Superbike and PokerStars Senior TT wins last year.
Other contenders due out for their first laps on Monday include Milwaukee Yamaha rider Ian Hutchinson, who returns to the Mountain Course after missing the 2013 meeting, Tyco Suzuki’s William Dunlop, fresh from his Superbike race win at the North West 200, Bruce Anstey and McGuinness’s Honda Racing teammate Conor Cummins.