Blackhorse Kawasaki team boss Ian Lougher got his 2010 Isle of Man TT campaign off to a solid start as he took the Kawasaki ZX-10R to a fine seventh place finish in the six-lap Superbike race, the traditional opener to race week.
Ian had experienced a few handling issues with the bike during practice, which the whole team worked hard to resolve and as the week drew to a close he put in a lap of 127.024mph to finish twelfth overall. Race day morning arrived with parts of the island bathed in warm sunshine, however heavy sea mist in the Douglas area meant the organisers had to postpone the scheduled 12 noon start with the race eventually getting underway at 3.30pm. Ian has been in this situation many times and undeterred, he blasted the Kawasaki off the line at Number 3. At Glen Helen he was in tenth position, and by Ballaugh Bridge he was ninth, at Ramsey Hairpin he was up to eighth behind Michael Dunlop and Dan Stewart. Through the Bungalow, Ian then got ahead of Dunlop to move into seventh. He hurtled past the grandstand at the end of the opening lap in sixth place with a lap of 128.221mph, a great effort from a standing start.
At Ramsey Hairpin on the second lap Ian was still sixth, this time with Adrian Archibald in fifth and at the end of the lap (128.012mph) he had maintained his sixth place, eleven seconds behind Archibald as they came in for the first of two scheduled pit-stops. On to the third lap and at Glen Helen Ian was relegated to seventh by Cameron Donald and at the end of the lap he was in eighth, just under four seconds behind Keith Amor. There was drama on the fifth lap as race leader Conor Cummins retired at Laurel Bank, this meant Ian was now seventh and it was a position he was to safely maintain to the end of the race. He went through the Sulby speed trap on the last lap fourth quickest at 183.40mph, just short of his race best speed of 183.90mph. The Blackhorse Kawasaki ZX-10R was the highest placed Kawasaki in the race.
Speaking afterwards Ian said: "I was pleased with seventh and with the bike, considering the issues we encountered during practice week. I reckon I can now achieve a 130mph lap after discovering we had no rebound damping left after the race. In light of this, I can't believe I managed 128.221mph which is my fastest lap ever like this. I'm really looking forward to the Superstock race as I feel the ZX-10 could be the machine to be on in this class. We are a bit down on speed on the Supersport 600 but the great handling could just make up for it."
The Supersport and Superstock TT races, both over four laps, take place today (Monday) at 10.45 and 14.15 respectively.
Race highlights can be seen the same evening on ITV4 at 9pm.