SUPERSTOCK PREVIEW: CAN HICKMAN MAINTAIN WINNING RUN?
Traditionally one of the most competitive classes of the event, the Superstock category gets a second race for the first time at this year’s Isle of Man TT Races so more close racing is expected from the two 3-lap RL360 Superstock Races.
There’s little to choose between the three most prominent manufacturers of Honda, Kawasaki and BMW, but recent results suggest that it’s Peter Hickman and the German manufacturer that will have the edge, with the FHO Racing rider having won all three races since 2018. And with the lap record of 134.403mph under his belt as well, he’ll take some stopping this year in the two 3-lap races.
Honda have very much been in the ascendancy in the class though, and it was the Milenco by Padgetts Motorcycles duo of Conor Cummins and Davey Todd who joined him on the podium twelve months ago. Cummins set the fastest ever lap by a Honda around the Mountain Course, 133.116mph, whilst Todd went on to clinch the British title, so their credentials are clear.
Michael Dunlop (MD Racing), Jamie Coward (KTS Racing powered by Steadplan) and David Johnson (C&L Fairburn Properties/Jackson Racing) have all switched to the CBR1000RR-R Fireblade SP this year, with the former eager to get back to winning ways in the 1000cc classes. Johnson finished third in his last outing in 2019 whilst 23-time winner John McGuinness will again line up for Honda Racing.
Michael Dunlop will be hoping a switch to the Fireblade will restore his winning ways
BMW also have riders more than capable of getting in amongst the top ten finishers, or even the podium, most notably Josh Brookes on the second FHO machine and Bathams Ales team leader Michael Rutter.
Privateers Dominic Herbertson (EFL Fabrication Ltd), Phil Crowe (Agriwash Farm Hygiene), rising star Mike Browne (Burrows Engineering/RK Racing) and Sam West (Street Diner Racing) add further weight to their challenge, the latter hoping to get back to the form he showed in 2018 when he finished eighth, a crash in practice last year at Laurel Bank ruining his campaign.
Kawasaki and Yamaha only have one representative each in amongst the seeded riders, but with Dean Harrison (DAO Racing) and James Hillier (OMG Racing) respectively, they have two potential podium finishers although Hillier will have to significantly beetteer the best ever Yamaha lap of 130.398mph, set by Coward last year, to achieve that.
Suzuki also have just the one rider in the top twenty with the consistent Shaun Anderson lining up for Steve Wheatman’s Team Classic outfit.
Outside of the seeded riders, there are plenty of other riders aiming for strong performances, most notably Brian McCormack (Roadhouse Macau by FHO BMW), Rob Hodson (SMT Racing Honda), Paul Jordan (PreZ Racing Yamaha) and Manxman Michael Evans (ME Racing Suzuki), the latter having taken three excellent top ten finishes at the recent North West 200.
David Datzer (MTP Racing by Tommy Wagner BMW) is another rider worth keeping an eye on as he comes into this third TT campaign whilst last year’s Senior Manx Grand Prix winner Stephen Smith makes the step up to the TT riding the TC Racing by DP Coldplaning Honda.
Meanwhile, several newcomers will get further experience of the Mountain Course including last year’s Macau GP winner Erno Kostamo (38 Motorsport Syntainics, BMW), multiple World Endurance champion Matthieu Lagrive (Optimark Road Racing, Yamaha) and local star Ryan Cringle (AGR Motorsports, Honda).
The two 3-lap RL360 Superstock TT Races will take place on Tuesday 6th June and Friday 9th June.