LINE UP CONFIRMED FOR MONSTER ENERGY SUPERSPORT TT RACES
All of last year’s leading protagonists, including 2018 Supersport Race winners Michael Dunlop and Dean Harris on, are back for more. Given their performances last year, these two are arguably the men to beat.
The duo went head to head in both encounters last year, Dunlop coming home ahead of Harrison on his MD Honda in Race One when he set a new lap record at an average speed of 129.197mph.
Harrison took the victory later in the week when the Silicone Engineering Kawasaki rider also lapped in excess of 129mph on his way to his second TT victory. He starts at number two this year with Dunlop setting off at his regular number six.
The two other riders to finish on the Supersport podium in 2018 were Peter Hickman and James Hillier. Hickman, who starts at number ten on the Trooper Beer Triumph by Smiths Racing, has increased support from the British manufacturer this time around which he hopes will help him secure his first 600cc win.
Hillier, the sixth fastest rider ever in the Supersport class, is looking to do the same on the Quattro Plant Wicked Coatings Kawasaki. The Hampshire rider will start at number five, behind Ian Hutchinson at number four.
Hutchinson and Dunlop have both seen great success in the class previously. Since 2013, the duo have taken nine wins – five to Dunlop and four to Hutchinson – and only Harrison last year and Gary Johnson, in 2014, have managed to break their stranglehold.
Hutchinson took four successive wins in 2015 and 2016 when riding a Yamaha but, now back to full fitness after a difficult year in 2018, he lines up on a Honda CBR600RR for the factory Honda Racing team. He has had previous success on the bike, taking wins in 2007, 2009 and 2010 and will be confident of getting back on to the top step this year after plenty of testing and a run out in the British Supersport Championship at Oulton Park.
John McGuinness, a Supersport race winner in both 2004 and 2006, is due to start at number three but he has yet to be confirm what machine he will ride.
As he will do for the 1000cc races, Conor Cummins leads the field away at number one on his Milenco by Padgetts Motorcycles Honda. Having taken fourth and fifth last year, he’ll be pushing for his first Supersport podium since 2009.
Davey Todd, one of the brightest young prospects in Road Racing, joins Cummins in the Padgetts team and sets off from number 8. He had been due to start ahead of another rising star, with Adam McLean starting at number 9 on the McAdoo Racing Kawasaki. However, McLean has been forced to withdraw from this year’s event due to injuries sustained in a crash at the Tandragee 100 at the beginning of May.
Hoping to join the battle for top honours are Lee Johnston and Gary Johnson. Johnston posted a new personal best lap time in the class last year, at an average speed in excess of 127mph when he rode for the Padgetts Honda team. Starting at number 11, he has switched to Yamaha with the Ashcourt Racing set-up in the hope it will propel him back onto the podium.
Johnson, who won in 2011 and in 2014, continues in the red, white and blue colours of the RAF Regular & Reserve team with his usual number seven and the same Triumph 675 machine he used last year.
Derek McGee starts at number 12 and will campaign the Kawasaki ZX-6R that Ben Currie took to second in last year’s British Supersport Championship. With this proven machine and the form McGee has found at the start of the 2019 season, he will be challenging for top six positions.
Sam West (PRL Yamaha) will again take the number 13 plate with regular top ten contender Dan Cooper starting ten seconds after him on the KW Electrical/CMS Honda. Jamie Coward (15) will also be hoping for top ten finishes on the Prez Racing Yamaha.
Former Manx Grand Prix winner Michael Evans is rewarded for some strong rides in 2018 by becoming a seeded rider for the first time at number 16 on the Wilcock Consulting Honda. Paul Jordan, a former 125cc British Championship race winner, goes at number 17 on the Dafabet Devitt Racing Kawasaki.
The top twenty seeds are completed by Michael Sweeney (EM Building Yamaha), Daley Mathison (WH Racing Yamaha) and Dominic Herbertson (Davies Motorsport Kawasaki).
Honda Racing’s David Johnson was a late entry to the class and, despite not starting from the top 20, cannot be discounted as a front runner on the 600.
All of the seeded riders have already lapped at more than 123mph in the Supersport category, and the quality stretches even further down the field. Craig Neve, Horst Saiger, Tom Weeden, Julian Trummer, Derek Sheils and last year’s Junior Manx Grand Prix winner James Chawke all have the speed and experience to challenge for the top 20.
New Zealand rider Jay Lawrence will also be in action on the Carl Cox Motorsport Honda and he’ll be joined by fellow countryman and newcomer Daniel Mettam. Raymond Casey, Jonathan Goetschy and David Datzer also set to get their first taste of race action around the Mountain Course.