QUALIFYING 4 - REPORT
On the fourth qualifying session of the Isle of Man TT Races fuelled by Monster Energy, Peter Hickman reasserted himself back at the top of the qualifying leaderboard, but the session was brought to an early end due to an incident resulting in the tragic death of competitor Mark Purslow.
Hickman was just 1.9s quicker than Dean Harrison’s lap of 131.713mph on the DAO Racing Kawasaki with Davey Todd third on the Milenco by Padgett’s Motorcycles at 130.768mph.
Michael Dunlop and Paul Jordan topped the Superstock and Supersport standings respectively with Ben and Tom Birchall the quickest Sidecar pairing, the Nottinghamshire brothers lapping at 116.825mph.
Tonight, it was the Sidecars that got proceedings underway with a single lap session at 6.31pm with the Birchalls setting off first on their Haith Honda. John Holden, with Dan Sayle replacing Jason Pitt in the chair, Tim Reeves/Kevin Rousseau, Dave Molyneux/Daryl Gibson, Pete Founds/Jevan Walmsley and Ryan and Callum Crowe followed them away in quick succession.
Holden/Sayle were soon reported as having stopped at Ballacraine whilst Reeves/Rousseau did the same but a bit further round the course at Parliament Square. Both got going again after making adjustments but the Birchalls were having no such issues and they duly completed the lap quickest at 116.825mph, the fastest lap of the week so far.
Founds/Walmsley were next to cross the line at 115.432mph, 14 seconds slower than the Birchalls, and it was the Crowe brothers who slotted into third on the leaderboard with a lap of 114.598mph, their fastest lap ever around the circuit.
At 7.10pm, the Superbike/Superstock/Supersport session commenced and, in a change of tact, it was Peter Hickman (Gas Monkey Garage by FHO Racing) who was first away with James Hillier (RICH Energy OMG Racing), Dean Harrison (DAO Racing Kawasaki), Michael Rutter (Bathams Ales) and Jamie Coward (KTS Racing powered by Steadplan) next to go.
There was little to choose between Hickman and Harrison from the start to the finish, never more than a few tenths of a second separating them, but at the completion of the lap, it was Hickman who was the quickest at 131.293mph. It was close though with Harrison just 0.8s adrift with a speed of 131.181. Davey Todd was third and the last rider above 130mph with 130.768 with Michael Dunlop (128.797mph) and Coward (128.19mph) completing the top six.
Hickman pitted to make changes to the BMW but Harrison pressed on and went back to the top of the leaderboard with a second lap of 131.713mph. Conor Cummins increased his pace to 130.174mph with fellow Honda man John McGuinness MBE also improving to 129.117mph. Dunlop was sandwiched in between at 129.391mph. That pushed Coward back to seventh ahead of Hillier, Phil Crowe and Nathan Harrison.
However, Hickman’s changes clearly worked and he flashed across the line at 131.957mph to go almost two seconds quicker than Harrison’s earlier time. Further back, Shaun Anderson (125.556mph) and Rob Hodson (124.388mph) both improved their speeds second time around as did former Senior Manx GP winner Matt Stevenson, the Yorkshireman going quicker than ever before at 123.341mph. German rider, David Datzer was another on the move with a new personal best of 123.014mph.
In the Superstock class, Nathan Harrison (126.368) was leading the way from Ian Hutchinson (126.032) and Craig Neve (125.87) with newcomer Glenn Irwin in fifth at 125.447mph, another best for the Honda Racing UK runner.
The session ended early with a red flag due to an incident at Ballagarey at approximately 20:05, where Mark Purslow, 29, from Llanon, Ceredigion, riding number 70 in the Supersport Class tragically lost his life.
The Isle of Man TT Races pass on their deepest sympathy to Mark’s family, friends, and loved ones.