Riders were greeted with blue skies and bright sunshine ahead of the third qualifying session for the 2011 Manx Grand Prix Races, though the riders were warned of a lack of adhesion from Black Dub to Glen Helen, at Ramsey hairpin and at Governors Dip.
The crowd were treated to the sight of 2011 Superstock TT winner Michael Dunlop making his first appearance of the meeting on John Sims’ ’81 Suzuki XR69 and he was first away on the night alongside Michael Sweeney’s Junior machine.
Fellow TT Riders Ryan Farquhar and Mark Buckley on the ’81 Suzuki XR69 were also out in the session and Buckley was quickly into his stride with 110.439mph ahead of rider liaison officer John Barton who posted 104.202 on his opening lap of the same session. However both Ryan and Michael experienced mixed fortunes on their opening lap with the Dungannon man not recording a lap and the Ballymoney favourite posting 100.710 after stopping at Ballacraine.
However, Farquhar enjoyed better fortunes on his second lap, taking out the ’72 Paton and clocking 103.498, the fastest time of the night for the Classic 500cc and Dunlop switched to last year’s winning bike and posted 110.655. Stuart Garton topped the Junior Post Classic leaderboard with 105.222 from Brian Mateer, while Chris Palmer (100.097) was quickest in the 350/250cc session. Scotland’s Buckley squeezed a third lap in and posted the evening fastest Classic Superbike time (114.385) and Barton, on his second lap, also went quicker with 106.152 on the ’85 Suzuki GSXR.
Earlier in the evening the Junior riders were first on the track shortly after the scheduled start time of 18.20, lead away by Michael Sweeneyand the Republic of Ireland racer, last year’s Junior Manx Grand Prix winner, was first back to the Grandstand. Hebden Bridge rider Jamie Coward set the pace on the opening lap with a time of 114.100, which he improved to 114.971 on lap 2 from Dan Sayle (113.553) and Michael Sweeney (113.320).
In the Senior class, Andrew Brady, riding for Martin Bullock Manxsport was quickest with 113.859 from Andrew Farrell (112.0570) and 2010 MGP newcomer B winner Jonny Heginbotham (111.678) while Billy Smith was fastest Lightweight at 106.453.
The Newcomers went out at the back of the first session. Stuart Osborne, who was originally reported as having not completed the speed controlled lap the previous evening, had in fact completed the lap so was able to go out with the group, while Bobby McMullen, the last remaining newcomer required to complete a lap having stopped at Union Mills the previous evening, duly achieved his lap at the back of the session, following Travelling Marshal Stephen Oates.
Wayne Hamilton, well known on the Irish racing scene, posted the fastest Newcomers time of the evening with 110.663 to establish himself as an early favourite for Saturday’s race. Birkenhead’s Scott Smyth was the fastest Newcomer B on the night (98.907).
In the SuperTwin extra spice was added to the session with today’s news that the class will feature in the 2012 TT Races for the first time. Joe posted the fastest time of the night (107.444), from Dave Moffitt (106.839) and Rab Davie (106.686).
Tomorrow’s session, scheduled to start at 18.20, will see the Senior, Junior, SuperTwin and Newcomers A Group out first, with the Classic, Classic Superbike, Junior Post Classic, Lightweight and Newcomers B due out at 19.05.