ISLE OF MAN – The fourth time was the charm as practice for the 2013 Isle of Man TT races fueled by Monster Energy finally went as scheduled Thursday.
With conditions around the Mountain Course ideal and no rain in sight, a sigh of relief could be heard all across the Island.
With dry roads, good visibility and sunny intervals, the Superbikes were finally let loose in anger and 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.
They were soon followed by Cameron Donald, Michael Rutter, Guy Martin, Bruce Anstey, Michael Dunlop and Dan Kneen whilst John McGuinness was in his customary position further back, setting off in the sixth pairing. News soon came through though that both Dunlop and Kneen had stopped with mechanical problems at Glen Darragh Road and the Highlander respectively.
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. McGuinness’ opening lap was a more leisurely 120.25 as he stopped briefly at Ballacraine. Meanwhile, Dunlop had managed to get back to the pits and rejoined the action on his 600cc machine, lapping at 122.67.
A few riders including Johnson, Hillier, Donald and Dan Cooper 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.