A blistering final practice session at the 2010 Isle of Man TT has set the scene for a mouth watering showdown when the first race, the Superbike TT gets under way.
Once again it was Yorkshire's Ian Hutchinson who dominated the Friday night session, setting his second 130mph-plus average lap of the 37.73-mile Mountain circuit for the fastest lap of the practice week.
The first race is due to start at midday on Saturday and run over six laps. It will be followed at 3pm by the first Sidecar race over three laps.
The final practice session was held in perfect conditions once again. The riders set off in numerical order so, once again, it was Bruce Anstey who blasted off from the TT Grandstand in Douglas first, this time alongside Ian Lougher with Ian Hutchinson, Keith Amor, Cameron Donald, Guy Martin, Adrian Archibald, Conor Cummins and Gary Johnson following them.
Outright lap record holder and 15-times TT winner John McGuinness set off in the fifth pairing on his 600cc Padgets Honda Supersport machine, leaving his HM Plant Honda Superbike in the garage during the session.
While Guy Martin pulled off the course at Ballacraine and Carl Rennie at Parliament Square, Hutchinson was again flying and his opening lap was 130.234mph, just shy of McGuinness' lap on Wednesday evening.
Manxman Cummins lapped at 129.405mph on his Superbike with Amor putting in a fine lap on his BMW Superstock machine at 128.156mph, the bike only 4mph down on Hutchinson's Superbike through the Sulby speed trap. James Edmeades and the KTM were also having a good evening with their first ever 120mph+ lap, Senior Manx Grand Prix winner Michael Russell also recorded the benchmark average speed for the first time.
Hutchinson went even quicker on his second lap at 130.614mph to move to the top of the Superbike qualifying leaderboard and win the Graham watch for the fastest rider of the week. Amor did likewise on the Superstock BMW at 128.229mph. Meanwhile, the Dunlop brothers were setting the pace on their 600s, Michael getting close to the class lap record at 126.39mph with older brother William moving in to the top six at 123.621mph, just behind McGuinness at 123.750mph. Donald was again close to 129mph on his Superbike machine.
Dunlop then went quickest in the Superstock class also at 128.324mph, another personal best, whilst Amor switched to the HM Plant Honda Superbike lapping at 128.48mph with Hutchinson and McGuinness above 125mph, having gone back out on their Superstock machines. Just like Thursday, the majority of speeds dropped off as the session wore on, a combination of traffic out on the course and the dropping temperatures, but Archibald did 129.372mph and Dunlop 128.792mph, both on their Superbikes and both personal best laps ever. Martin eventually got back out and did two laps on his Superbike, the best at 128.240mph.