At 6.56pm, it was the time of the leading solo riders to start their race preparations in earnest and Guy Martin (Hydrex Bike Animal Honda) and Cameron Donald (Relentless by TAS Suzuki) were the first pairing away followed by Bruce Anstey and Adrian Archibald. They were followed in quick succession by Ian Hutchinson, Gary Johnson, John McGuinness and Carl Rennie with Martin, Anstey, Hutchinson, McGuinness and Ian Lougher just some of the riders to go out on their Superbike machines. Steve Plater, Mark Parrett and Chris Palmer were out on their Supersport machines whilst Keith Amor and John Burrows were aboard their Superstock bikes.
Robinson and Hillier were, naturally, the first two to complete the lap with Hillier enthusing about the course upon his return to the pits: ‘Unbelievable, what a buzz – I kept looking over my shoulder to see if the police were chasing us!’
Martin and Archibald were first of the established competitors through the start and finish and carried on for another lap whilst many riders called in to make a few changes before heading back out for a couple more laps. The general consensus was that conditions all around the course were good and it was just great to be back – after a year away, they were all itching to get going and used the session to feel their way back in to the 37 and ¾ miles. Despite the delay at the start of the session, the riders were able to get in 3 full laps of the course and should have made good progress with their set-up.
At 8.00pm it was the turn of the F2 Sidecars and they were lead away by
reigning World Champions Tim Reeves and Patrick Farrance who had just flown
in from Donington Park, where they qualified on pole for the opening round
of this year's Championship. Roy Hanks, competing in his 43rd TT, and Dave Wells were the escort for the newcomers with other crews following them including Mark Brown/David Brown, Camiel Mellegers/Simone van Berckel and Geoff Smale/Lee Barrett.
Twenty minutes later the established competitors were given the all clear
sign and it was Dave Molynuex and Dan Sayle who got away first on their DMR
Suzuki followed by Nick Crowe/Mark Cox (LCR Honda), John Holden/Andy Winkle
(LCR Suzuki), Phil Dongworth/Stu Castles (Ireson Honda), Gary Bryan/Robert
Bell (Baker Yamaha), Simon Neary/Jamie Winn (Baker Suzuki) and Tony
Elmer/Darren Marshall (Ireson Yamaha). Klaus Klaffenbock and Christian
Parzer were also amongst the first few crews out on the course with the 2001
World Champion now competing in the colours of Padgett's Manx Gas Racing.
Crowe was first to complete a lap having overhauled Moly out on the circuit
but, whilst he pulled in, Moly continued for another lap. Holden also pulled
in and stated a few adjustments were required for the suspension with
conditions still good everywhere despite the fading light. Bryan, Dongworth
and Greg Lambert all carried on for another lap while Neary was another to
briefly make a few changes before carrying on again.
The earlier delay meant that the sidecars were only able to squeeze in two
laps during their session.