HEAT CONTINUES TO RISE IN SCORCHING FOURTH QUALIFYING
The speeds continued to soar in fourth qualifying for the 2023 Isle of Man TT Races, with the quickest laps ever seen during a qualifying week being set on both two and three wheels.
It was Peter Hickman who was quickest in the Superbike class with a standing start lap of 133.797mph on the Monster Energy by FHO Racing BMW, which was just 0.162s quicker than Michael Dunlop, the Hawk Racing Honda rider posting a lap of 133.775mph.
On three wheels, Ben and Tom Birchall not only set the best qualifying lap ever in the Sidecar class but they also dipped inside their own lap record with a speed of 119.414mph, which was again done from a standing start.
Conditions were again perfect for the fourth day in a row with James Hillier leading the field away this time on the Superstock OMG Racing Yamaha, followed by Hickman, Davey Todd (Milenco by Padgetts Honda), Jamie Coward (KTS Racing Honda) and Dunlop. Coward got less than ten miles though as he stopped at Sarah’s Cottage with Rob Hodson (SMT Racing Honda) another early retirement at the exit of Kirk Michael.
Hickman was quickest on the opening lap with his near 134mph lap and, indeed, several riders set their quickest laps of the evening on the first lap including Todd (131.561), Hickman’s team-mate Josh Brookes (129.883), and David Johnson (128.392). Dunlop’s opening gambit was 133.191mph.
Second time around and Hickman did another 133mph+ lap, this time at 133.553mph, with Dunlop and Dean Harrison (DAO Racing Kawasaki) lapping at a similar pace on their Superstock mounts with respective laps of 132.728mph and 132.700mph. The gap between the two was just two tenths of a second with Hickman putting in a late lap of 131.952mph during a solo session which lasted 1hr45min.
Back to the Superbike class and after two laps on his Superstock machine, Dunlop switched to his Superbike and only narrowly missed out on the quickest lap of the night with his lap of 133.775mph. Harrison went third quickest after lapping at 132.921mph ahead of Todd, Brookes and Hillier.
Meanwhile, local newcomer Ryan Cringle broke the 120mph barrier for the first time with a lap of 121.48mph.
In the Superstock class, the top three was Harrison, Dunlop and Hickman with Hillier in fourth after posting his first 130mph+ lap of the week at 130.195mph. Mike Browne was a fine fifth, after a personal best lap of 129.104mph, with John McGuinness rounding out the top six at 128.821mph.
As well as the Superstock class, Dunlop was also quickest in the Supersport category with a lap of 127.557mph – the quickest of the week so far – with Coward (124.675) in second after just getting back in time for a lap on his Yamaha. The top six was completed by James Hind (124.553), Hillier (122.276), Harrison (122.518) and Craig Neve (122.036). Newcomers Jorge Halliday and Jack Petrie went quicker again at 112.932mph and 112.568mph respectively.
That just left the Sidecars to complete the evening’s action and the Birchalls ensured their two-wheel counterparts weren’t going to get the headlines as they lapped inside their 2018 lap record on their very first lap with a stunning 119.414mph effort.
Ryan and Callum Crowe slotted into an early second, increasing their pace to 116.142mph ahead of Pete Founds/Jevan Walmsley (113.536), Tim Reeves/Mark Wilkes (111.841), John Holden/Maxime Vasseur (111.706) and Gary Bryan/Phil Hyde (110.878).
The Birchalls pulled in but Founds/Walmsley continued for another lap, recording a speed of 117.587mph to move into second on the leaderboard, with Steve and Matty Ramsden (110.878), the only other crew to break the 110mph barrier. Newcomer Daryl Gibson, with Tom Christie in the chair, came close though with a first lap speed of 109.795mph.
Tomorrow’s qualifying session is set to get under at 13:00. Click here to view tomorrow’s schedule.