The opening practice session, which is untimed, takes place from 6.20pm this evening and all riders will be looking to get a number of laps in, particularly the large contingent of newcomers who will be getting their first taste of the Mountain Course on a closed road. Everyone will be eager to make the most of tonight with valuable track time crucial for todayís modern machines.
With the exception of Michael Rutter all of the leading protagonists will be out in force tonight including Steve Plater who will jet in from Thruxton, fresh from qualifying fifth for the fourth round of the British Supersport Championship. Meanwhile, whilst the poor weather of the North West 200 at least saw all of the TT competitors emerge unscathed, it perhaps hasnít been the main form indicator that it usually is.
Plater took two wins at one of his favourite meetings and also leads the Supersport series so he is clearly a man in form but Bruce Anstey, John McGuinness, Ryan Farquhar and Keith Amor also took podiums at the first International race of the year and, as is often the case at the North West, there was little to choose between racers.
However, when it comes to the TT, the benchmark for everyone continues to be McGuinness. Now with 14 wins to his name, the Morecambe rider's success story shows no signs of slowing down and heís back to his best on the short circuits too. Relaxed as always, McGuinness only has his Superbike available for tonight, with the other machines due from Thruxton on Monday, but that will allow him to concentrate on the one machine and, possibly, steal an early march on his rivals.
The mixed day at the North West 200 meant that results from the day were up and down for everyone but, as well as the aforementioned runners, Gary Johnson, Conor Cummins, Ian Lougher, Adrian Archibald and Dan Stewart are all expected to feature prominently over the next two weeks. Michael Dunlop is also expected to shine and tonight should see his first outing on the rotary Norton, the first time the fire-breathing machines have been out in an official capacity at the TT since 1992.
Brother William is also back for the first time since 2007 and when you throw in the likes of Carl Rennie, Mark Parrett, Ian Armstrong, James McBride, Ian Pattinson and Gary Carswell, to name just a few, itís all set for another cracking TT.
Rutterís high-profile switch to the Crescent Suzuki team for the TT came into play just after the North West but heís now standing in, for one meeting at least, for the injured Sylvain Guintoli at the British Superbike round at Thruxton and weíll have to wait until Monday evening before his first appearance at the TT since the 2007 centenary races.
The Sidecars also get their first taste of the Mountain Course tonight with Nick Crowe, Dave Molyneux, John Holden and Tim Reeves expected to be the four main contenders in the two three-lap races. Strong challenges will also come from Klaus Klaffenbock, Simon Neary, Phil Dongworth, Roy Hanks, Andy Laidlow and Steve Coombes whilst Ben Birchall, currently joint leader of the World Championship, leads an impressive array of three-wheel debutants.