DUNLOP SETS TARGET OF SIX TT RACE WINS IN A WEEK WITH LIGHTWEIGHT TT RACE ENTRY
Now entering its third year, the Bike Nation Lightweight TT Race promises to be the best yet at the 2014 Isle of Man TT Races fuelled by Monster Energy, not only numerically but also in quality with many of the leading TT riders competing in the three lap race.
Michael Dunlop has his sights set on making TT history by becoming the first rider to win six races in a week. His four victories in 2013 equalled fellow countryman Phillip McCallen's 1996 record and is one less than Ian Hutchinson’s unique 2010 campaign. He will ride a new McAdoo Racing ER-6 Kawasaki machine and starts from number 6 on the grid.
Speaking about the news Michael commented: “It is fair to say that I haven’t really given the Lightweight Race my full attention in the past, but this year we are going all out to win this race and try and make it six wins from six starts. It’s a massive target, but that is what we go racing for and McAdoo Racing has gone all out on building me a race-winning bike. I’m looking forward to the challenge and seeing if we can put one over the established riders and teams in this class.”
Dunlop will not have it all his own way however. Ryan Farquhar and James Hillier, the 2012 and 2013 Lightweight race winners, return to a grid that boasts an excellent blend of youth and experience, with many of the TT’s established guard being pitched against the sport’s up and coming talent.
Hillier has the number 2 plate on his Quattro Plant / Muc-Off Kawasaki with the returning Farquhar setting off ten seconds later on his KMR Kawasaki / SGS International. McKinstry Racing rider Ivan Lintin, who has finished seventh and fourth in the last two years, narrowly missing the podium twelve months ago, has the honour of leading the field away with the number 1 plate and will look to challenge the top three this time around.
Guy Martin, set to have his first outing on a Lightweight Supertwin machine, starts behind Farquhar at number 4 and if his bike’s competitive, he’ll certainly be in with a shout. There will be a strong threat behind him though from Michael Rutter, another rider in with a chance of victory, who took third in the inaugural race of 2012 and sixth last year.
Potential winners come thick and fast with Gary Johnson at number seven on the Chinese WK machine, which should be faster and more reliable this year. Jamie Hamilton, Farquhar’s former protégé, who was also well to the fore in 2013 finishing fifth, will start at number eight on the Stewart Smith Racing Kawasaki, with the stunning line-up continuing at number nine with Keith Amor. The Scots ace, returning to the TT for the first time since 2011, has joined forces with Farquhar at KMR Kawasaki and early indications are that he’s delighted with the performance of his Supertwin machine. Dan Cooper rounds out the top ten on another Chinese WK bike.
Exciting youngster James Cowton leads the next batch of ten riders away at number 11. Having lapped at more than 113mph in practice in last year's Manx Grand Prix he’s definitely one to watch but he’ll have last year’s runner-up Dean Harrison breathing down his neck. Harrison's regular RC Express Racing by MSS Performance team will be running him in the class this year as he chases his first TT victory.
Lee Johnston, ninth last year, will set off from the same number 13 slot as his other solo class races on the East Coast Construction Kawasaki, ahead of TT Rider Liaison Officer John Barton who’s rewarded with a seeded number after a strong twelfth place in 2013. Olie Linsdell, on the intriguing, all-new Paton machine, completes the top fifteen.
David Johnson, Daniel Kneen, Gavin Hunt, one of the leading newcomers from TT 2013, Colin Stephenson, who steps up from the Manx GP and Ben Wylie are the remaining top twenty seeds.
Outside the top twenty, riders and numbers to look out for include the returning Roy Richardson on a 550cc Aprilia (21), Michael Sweeney (23), Steve Mercer (24), eight-times Sidecar TT winning passenger Daniel Sayle (37), last year’s Lightweight Manx GP winner Michael Russell (45). Two promising youngsters step up from the Manx GP, The Isle of Man's Joe Faragher (39) and Northwich racer Connor Behan (48).
Former Moto 3 and 125cc GP rider, Danny Webb, making his TT debut, should have his best ride of the week on the KMR Kawasaki at his familiar number 66 while other first-timers include Callum Laidlaw (73), Alan Bonner (74) and Frenchman Franck Petricola (75).