Dratted diesel again held up the start of practising – road cleaners having to take care of spillages in the Gooseneck area. At least it needed only 20 minutes to deal with this time –as against 45 the evening before – but was still an unnecessary hindrance to the 303 bikes and riders champing at the bit.
When the bikes did get going, it was Craig Atkinson (750 Suzuki) from Keighley and James McCullagh (600 Suzuki) from Strabane who fronted the large field out of the Pit Lane. Just a mile down the road the sun flag was being displayed as advance warning of the strong glare to be encountered on the run to Ballacraine.
Atkinson blasted round at 116.359mph – the fastest lap of the week to that point. He was really motoring and the crowds gathered round the 37 and three-quarter mile course thrilled to his progress towards 117.396mph on lap two.
Local rider Stephen Oates did 114.574mph and Barry Davidson from Ballymena 113.135mph, both on their Junior 600cc bikes. Newcomer Mats Nilsson from Sweden was going really well at 112.319mph and Maria Costello from Spratton whizzed through at 110.426mph.
Most riders elected to do two straight laps to take advantage of the good conditions, with speeds of over 140mph recorded through the Grandstand. After quick refuelling, one or two riders even managed a third gallop, but some preferred to prepare for other outings in the Classic or Ultra-Lightweight classes about to be let loose.
Tony Cawte from Crosby was pleased with his Mannin Collections 250 Honda but said he still had a bit to learn about the characteristics of the vee-twin. Moments later he was out on a very different sort of twin – John Turner’s 500cc four-stroke 435cc Drixton Honda parallel twin.
The strong sun caused plenty of comment, with the flat-out right-handers at Cronk Breck and Gorse Leigh towards Ballacraine the most tricky. Maurice Hogg from Dundrum reported over-soft suspension on his CSC Racing 600 Yamaha, while Mike Crellin from Douglas said he was still going "steady", despite obviously knowing the course well.
Nilsson was limping badly as handed over his standard 600cc Yamaha-4 to TT rider Kevin "Ago" Murphy who said it was not injury, merely stiffness of the joints after two rapid laps – the second at 113.328mph!
Mark Waddell from Randalstown was a trifle lucky – his left handlebar grip of his 250cc Lightweight Honda almost slid off as he tootled up the Return Road to the Paddock.
The Classic contingent at last enjoyed a good two-lap charge, with lots of coming-and-going, a la TT. One particularly quick switch-over was by fancied winner Roy Richardson from Thornton Cleveleys. He more-or-less lterally jumped off his 500 Bullock Drixton Honda and onto the 350cc version.