Despite some high speed shenanigans, that saw overshoots, spills and off track excursions aplenty, all of the leading contenders emerged from the recent North West 200 meeting unscathed and come into the TT ready for battle.
John McGuinness, Guy Martin (who remarkably walked away from a 100mph get-off at Black Hill in Ireland), Cameron Donald and Bruce Anstey all scored podiums at the annual prelude to the TT and there was certianly little between any of them there. Martin, in particular, looked very strong on the Superbike and it could well be his year but, if he is to take his first win, he has to topple McGuinness. With 10 wins in the last 4 years, the Morecambe man seems unstoppable and he will hope for more of the same on his Padgett’s Honda’s.
Ian Hutchinson has work to do after the North West 200 and he’s on the back foot when it comes to the Superbike but, already a winner at the TT, he is sure to make good progress during practice week and ensure he is ready on race day. Team-mate Steve Plater was the Man of the Meeting at the North West but, still only in his second year on the Island, he will be concentrating on improving rather than tearing up the record books.
Ryan Farquhar dramatically split from the McAdoo Kawasaki team earlier this week whilst Adrian Archibald didn’t enjoy the happiest of North West meetings but both will fancy their chances this week and certainly can’t be ruled out. Meanwhile, Keith Amor and Gary Johnson were revelations last week and they could well spring a few surprises over the next fortnight.
Ian Lougher, Conor Cummins, Carl Rennie, James McBride, Jimmy Moore, Dan Stewart and Mark Miller are just other names to keep an eye on whilst many eyes will be on the first appearance of Jamie Robinson. The former British Champion’s debut has sparked much discussion but, lining up for the vastly experienced Padgett’s team, he has the ideal support to help him on his way.
The Sidecars also get their first taste of the Mountain Course on Saturday and the recent Jurby road meeting saw Nick Crowe get the better of Dave Molyneux but will the same happen in a few days time? The two Manxmen are sure to be fighting it out at the head of the field but strong challenges will also come from John Holden, Steve Norbury, Klaus Klaffenbock, Simon Neary and Nigel Connole, to name just a few. Meanwhile, Tim Reeves was also in action at Jurby and the World Champion impressed greatly with a stunning third place so all eyes will now be on his TT debut.