Heading the line-up is victor from the last two years, Dean Harrison, on the Silicone Engineering Kawasaki ZXR750 and he’ll be confident of completing his hat-trick despite the considerable opposition. Setting off at number two this time around, Harrison, who lapped at 127.212mph two years ago, will be desperate to get back to winning ways after missing out on victories at last week’s Ulster GP.
However, it’s never as straightforward as that around the 37.73-mile TT Mountain Course, especially as there’s a whole host of challengers queuing up to get the better of him - none more so than 2015 and 2016 race winner, Michael Dunlop on his 1200cc Team Classic Suzuki XR69. A lot will depend on the Northern Irishman’s fitness but he’s never been short of determination so has to be considered a threat.
Arguably the showpiece race of the event, the entry is as strong as ever and the honour of setting off at number one goes to Horst Saiger, who more than deserves the slot after taking excellent second and third place finishes in the last two years. He continues on the Greenall Racing Kawasaki.
The ZXR750 is a favoured machine for many, with Jamie Coward expected to be challenging for the top spot on the Kraus/PreZ Racing machine whilst the similarly-mounted David Johnson, who starts ten seconds behind him, will be aiming for his second podium of the year around the TT Mountain Course after finishing third in the RL360 Superstock TT Race in June. He rides for the Robert Burns Ltd/Alasdair Cowan Racing team, where he’s joined by the returning Craig Neve.
Mistral Racing again field two riders on their Kawasaki’s, with Paul Jordan looking to make up for last year’s disappointment when he retired from fourth place on the final lap and Michael Sweeney, who contests the race for the first time, replacing the injured Derek McGee.
It’s not all about the Kawasaki riders though with Michael Rutter setting off at number four on the Team Winfield Yamaha, which he took to second place in 2016, and Conor Cummins riding the ex-Grand Prix Yamaha YZR500 he rode into third place twelve months ago.
Davey Todd joins him in the Milenco by Padgetts Motorcycles team riding a 1989 750cc Yamaha OW01, whilst James Hillier will be hoping for better fortunes this year on the Oxford Racing/Louigi Moto 888 Ducati.
A big threat comes from the Team York Suzuki pairing of Gary Johnson and Sam West with the former, in particular, aiming firmly for a podium position having already lapped at close to 124mph.
Team Classic Suzuki add further strength in depth on the blue and white machines, with Dunlop being joined by Phil Crowe on a similar XR69 machine and Danny Webb returning with the Suzuki RG500 he campaigned last year. Setting the fastest lap around the TT Mountain Course on an RG500 machine will be amongst their aims as they look to better the 118.24mph mark set by Rob McElnea exactly 25 years ago.
Derek Sheils is another rider set to challenge for a leaderboard position on the second Greenall Racing machine, whilst the remaining seeds are also Kawasaki mounted with Rob Hodson on the Steelcote Solutions Ltd machine and Joey Thompson riding for Wilcock Consulting in place of the injured Michael Evans. Julian Trummer completes the top twenty on the TC Racing/DP Coldplaning Kawasaki.
As per the other classes, the entry is packed with talent outside of the seeded riders with Stefano Bonetti (21), Barry Lee Evans (22), Ryan Kneen (24) – a podium finisher in 2013 – Forest Dunn (25) and Mike Booth (34) just a few more riders expected to feature prominently.
TT Rider Liaison Officer John Barton (29) rides the second of just three 888cc Ducati’s on the entry list - the Manx-based rider lining up for Endurance specialists Alf’s Motorcycles once more.
Class regulars David Hewson (31), David Madsen-Mygdal (32), Josh Daley (35), Richard Wilson (37) and Brian McCormack (42) are back for another try. Wilson will be joined in the WizNorton Racing team by two-stroke specialist Gary Vines (44), with the pair riding two 1992 588cc rotary-engined Nortons.
Overseas entries include Timothee Monot (28) and Michal Dokoupil (49).
The class has the strongest entry of the event this year with a field of 79 riders having been assembled. The top 20 start list for the RST Superbike Classic TT can be found here.
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