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MICHAEL DUNLOP ESTABLISHES HIS STATUS AS PRE-RACE FAVOURITE WITH STUNNING FINAL QUALIFYING SESSION

Sun, 01 Jun 2014  11:21

Michael Dunlop on route to top the practice leaderboard
Michael Dunlop on route to top the practice leaderboard

After the trials of tribulations of recent evenings, conditions were perfect for the final qualifying session of the 2014 Isle of Man TT Races, fuelled by Monster Energy, and it proved to be a rapid night of action on the Mountain Course as Michael Dunlop threw down the gauntlet with a lap of 131.501mph, not only his personal best but also just 1.3s outside the outright lap record.

Gary Johnson set the pace on the opening lap on his Superstock bike and he was the only rider to break the 130mph barrier first time around with a lap of 130.207mph although Guy Martin wasn’t far behind on his Superbike with 129.992mph.

Second time around and Bruce Anstey went quickest at 130.642mph on his Superbike with John McGuinness lapping at 129.790 which saw him end up fourth overall. Dan Kneen slotted into a superb fifth place at 129.107, comfortably his best ever lap of the 37 and ¾-mile course while Michael Rutter placed sixth (128.883) with William Dunlop, Josh Brookes, James Hillier, Ian Hutchinson and Dean Harrison the other riders to lap in excess of 127mph.

However, Dunlop waited until the closing stages to really set the track alight as he ripped round the course at 131.501mph to end the week top of the Superbike leaderboard and surely heading into tomorrow’s Dainese Superbike race as favourite. Anstey remained in second overall with Guy Martin the third Superbike rider over 130mph with a lap of 130.102mph.

Cameron Donald had his best night of the week on the Norton with a speed of 123.095 with strong performances also coming from Jimmy Storrar (124.286), James Cowton (123.247) and Michael Sweeney (121.039).

Johnson’s superb 130mph lap saw him top the Superstock class although Harrison was also flying on his Superstock Kawasaki with a speed of 128.662mph, which was his best ever lap of the course. Michael Dunlop went slightly quicker at 129.333 to place third with Hillier in fourth and Rutter putting in a late quick lap to go fifth.

Meanwhile, newcomer Peter Hickman put in three laps in excess of 121mph but his fourth was his best of the week at an excellent 123.329mph. Fellow debutante Martin Jessopp just missed out on his first 120mph lap at 119.918mph with Alan Bonner (117.499), Vick de Cooremeter (116.741), Phil Crowe (116.738), Danny Webb (116.510) and Callum Laidlaw (112.058) all improving on their previous bests.

With most riders opting to get out on their 1000cc machines, there were few quick laps in the Supersport class but Johnson had a busy evening with two laps on the Triumph, the quickest of which, 125.934, was the fastest of the week. William Dunlop (124.475) and Keith Amor (124.356) placed second and third respectively on the night although Michael Dunlop’s lap from Thursday, 124.530, means he ended the week second overall. There was a notable performance from Daley Mathison who moved up to 22nd fastest qualifier from an original start number of 81.

In the F2 Sidecar class Dave Molyneux/Patrick Farrance were fastest on the night at 113.422 closely followed by John Holden/Andy Winkle (113.039), Conrad Harrison/Mike Aylott (112.333) and Tim Reeves/Gregory Cluze (111.651).

Karl Bennett/Lee Cain put in their first ever 110mph lap whilst a stunning lap came from newcomers Alan Founds/Tom Peters with a speed of 107.291mph. Fellow debutantes John and Jake Lowther also recorded their best lap of the week at 101.246mph. 

All eyes then switched to the SES TT Zero class as fans were treated to their first look at this year's Electric bike class.  The eagerly anticipated showdown between Mugen teammates Bruce Anstey and John McGuinness was put on ice when Anstey pulled in at Quarterbridge leaving McGuinness to post a stunning first lap of 20.:13.202 (111.904mph).

Buckeye's Rob Barber and Italian outfit VercarMoto also completed laps to get their qualifying campaigns underway while Paul Owen (Brunel) Rob Wilson (Sarolea) and Russ Mountford (Arc Ev Engineering) all set off from the grandstand but failed to complete their laps.

Neal Champion (Greeba Castle) and Calum Laidlaw (Governors Bridge) were both reported off in the Superbike session but while Laidlaw was reported OK and later went out again, Champion was taken by airmed to Nobles Hospital.  Sean Anderson was also airlifted to Nobles in the Supersport following an accident at Guthries while Frank Lelias and Paul Knapton were both taken by airmed for further assessment.

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