Hutchinson, McGuinness and Dunlop to battle in Isle of Man
THE flag will drop this morning on the 2016 Isle of Man TT races and after a full week of qualifying and it looks like this year's gruelling RST Superbike race will be between three riders, Michael Dunlop, Ian Hutchinson, and John McGuinness.
All three have been in tremendous form in practice which has been held in perfect conditions with Ballymoney's Michael Dunlop throwing down the gauntlet as early as Wednesday night with a lap speed of 131.7mph on his BMW Hawk Racing machine.
Up until this point it was miracle man Ian Hutchinson who had been calling the shots with Hutchy on the Tyco Racing BMW Superbike putting in constant 130+ laps on his Superbike, but then in an astonishing Hutchy went even faster on his Tyco BMW Superstock bike.
Hutchy has shown his Tyco BMW's true extent. The Bringley rider clocked at an amazing 197mph on the Sulby Speed trap and with that, it could be Dunlop v Hutchinson later this morning.
However, one man who has been chipping away at the top spot is TT legend John McGuinness.
The Morecambe Missile, on his factory Honda Fireblade, is only the third rider the break the 130mph lap barrier to date this week, and he is confident that he has secured a setting that can give him another win to edge nearer to Joey Dunlop's record number of TT race wins.
"We have found a great setting on the Honda in practice and it's one which I am really happy with," said McGuinness.
"I know what the Honda is capable of and I know that I am determined to go for it from the off in the Superbike race so its just a case of what the others do on the opening lap."
Michael Dunlop is equally at ease with his Hawk Racing BMW and the plucky Ballymoney man says there is still more to come.
"I'm entered in five races this week and I intend to go out and try and win them all,'' said Dunlop.
"I'm here to do a job and my job is to win. That was a really good lap on Wednesday night that I put in but there is still a lot more to come from the BMW and me. I will be going for it from the start and if anyone's going to beat me they will need to be doing a real good job."
Quietly-spoken Hutchinson is a little more relaxed about his chances in today's race.
"The Tyco bikes are really fast and I feel really at ease on them,'' he said.
"I will be looking at the Superbike race the same way as I go about all my rides here and that is to try and get off to a steady rhythm and hope that I can carry a constant lap time on each lap.
"You just don't know what could happen in a TT race and with two pits stops for fuel in the Superbike race, that's where it can be won and lost.
"If you lose even five seconds in the pits, that is very difficult to make up, but I'm confident that the Tyco Team will be able to get me in and away in their usual slick fashion."
Other riders who have also been showing they are able to break into the top three in today's Superbike race are Dean Harrison, Michael Rutter, Bruce Anstey, and Peter Hickman.
Racing continues on Monday with the first Monster Energy Supersport 600 TT Race starting at 10.45am over four laps and then the RL 360 Quantum Superstock race takes place at 1,45pm also over four laps.