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Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Qualifying begins at Isle of Man

From the Isle of Man TT

Qualifying for the 2011 Isle of Man TT Races fuelled by Monster Energy got underway on Monday evening and although conditions were far from ideal, both the solos and sidecars were able to get in two laps although the solos had begun a third lap when the session was red flagged early due to heavy rain on the Mountain.

Sunshine during the day gave way to cloud by the time the roads were closed and although Douglas remained dry, roads around the course were damp with Glen Helen to Ramsey the main section affected.

In a break from the usual schedule, the sidecars were out first on the course to give the solo riders who had been competing at the Thruxton BSB round, which included Michael Rutter, Dan Kneen, James Hillier and Ian Lougher time to make it to the Island for the session.

So, at 6.29pm TT2011 was up and running and once Roy Hanks, John Holden, Tony Baker and Greg Lambert had taken the large batch of sidecar newcomers around for their sighting lap, the session commenced with Simon Neary/Jason Crowe, Klaus Klaffenbock/Daniel Sayle, Tim Reeves/Gregory Cluze, Conrad Harrison//Mike Aylott and Tony Elmer/Darren Marshall the first crews to leave the line.

The damp conditions could clearly be seen in the opening lap times with Klaffenbock quickest at 107.407mph followed by Neary at 106.971mph and Elmer at 103.234mph. Second time around and road conditions improved slightly allowing Klaffenbock to move up to 110.911mph and Elmer to 106.977mph. Reeves was quicker too at 105.576mph despite hitting a pheasant at Kerromoar but Neary was in trouble though, losing passenger Crowe at Ramsey while Roy Hanks, Greg Lambert and Gordon Shand were all early retirements.

At 7.30pm, the solos were out on the course and rider liaison officers John Barton and Richard Quayle escorted Simon Andrews, Dean Harrison, Daniel Hegarty, PiotrBetlej, Robert Wilson and Lee Vernon for their sighting lap before the main contenders got their first taste of the Mountain Course this year.

It was Michael Dunlop and Guy Martin who got the session underway at 7.50pm, the Northern Irishman out on his Superstock machine and the Lincolnshire man opting for his Superbike. Following them were Bruce Anstey, Adrian Archibald, Paul Owen, Ian Mackman, Luis Carreira and Ryan Farquhar, the latter having his first outing on his new Superbike mount.

Meanwhile Honda team-mates John McGuinness and Keith Amor were two of the last to leave the line with Michael Rutter only getting as far as the end of pitlane before returning back to the paddock on his Ducati Superstock bike. The BSB star had earlier received a medical as soon as he reached the paddock after his spill at Thruxton earlier in the day.

Martin was the first to complete a lap at 121.380mph with Dunlop and Anstey not too far behind at 119.820mph and 118.793mph respectively, the relatively low speeds indication of the damp roads. However, the quickest man on the opening lap was Gary Johnson, who took the East Coast Racing Honda round at 122.463mph while equally impressive, given the events of 2010, was Conor Cummins’ first lap of 116.063mph on the McAdoo Racing Superstock Kawasaki.

Second time around and McGuinness and Amor, who spent the first two laps circulating in close formation, moved to the top of the early Superbike leaderboard with laps of 122.838mph and 122.637mph with Anstey sandwiching the pair on his Superstock at 122.752mph but Martin was in trouble, pushing in to the top of pitlane. Dunlop, who swapped his Superstock bike for his Superbike machine was also in trouble, pulling off the course at Crosby and making his way back to the paddock via the back roads.

Carreira was the quickest 600 at 117.612mph just ahead of Kneen whilst Poland’s Betlej was the best of the newcomers at an impressive 107.206mph on his Honda Superstock with Wilson and Harrison at 103.659 and 103.394mph.

To listen live to Radio TT’s commentary for all qualifying and races and follow live timing at the 2011 Isle of Man TT Races go to www.iomtt.com.

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