Leading road racers including Ryan Farquhar and Ian Lougher will have to dig deep to overcome the Dunlop brothers Michael and William, who led the way in the opening session of the 2010 Southern 100.
The first practice session of the 2010 Southern 100 got under way in perfect conditions on Monday evening, and it was the Dunlop brothers who were immediately on the pace.
Isle of Man TT winner Michael was the fastest man in the opening 1000cc practice, completing four laps on his Honda with a best speed of 108.259mph on his final lap around the 4.25-mile Billown circuit. In the second big bike session, his form continued and he improved to a best of 109.423mph on lap three of five.
In the first session, Michael Dunlop was followed home by Ian Lougher, with a 107.778mph on his Blackhore Kawasaki, and William Dunlop, who managed a 106.128mph on his 600cc CD Racing Yamaha. Ryan Farquhar and Mark Buckley rounded out the top give. In the second session Farquhar moved up to second with a 108.809mph ahead of Lougher, Buckley and William. Michael Pearson, James McBride and Victor Gilmore also all ran well in the 1000cc sessions, while TAS Suzuki's Cameron Donald, making his first appearance at the Southern 100 since his debut in 2006, managed eighth in both session, with a best speed of 105.471mph.
In the 600cc practice sessions, Michael Dunlop, now on his Yamaha, was the class of the field once again. He led both sessions, his best speed coming halfway through his four-lap run in the second outing – recording a 108.197mph, only marginally slower than his best 1000cc speed of the evening.
Once again, Lougher on his 600cc Blackhorse Kawasaki was the nearest rival in session one, with a 104.572mph, and KMR Kawasaki-mounted Farquhar was closest in the second session with a 105.57mph. Michal Dokoupil made the top six in the second session, with a 102.727mph, while Australian Donald recorded a 102.592mph on the 600cc TAS Suzuki.
It was William Dunlop's turn to head the timesheets as the combined 250cc/650cc practice got under way. Riding his Honda, he was comfortably quicker than fellow 250cc rider Chris Palmer in session one, with a 99.853mph compared with the Manxman's 97.424mph. Dunlop improved in session two with a 101.047mph, this time heading Ryan Farquhar on his KMR Kawasaki 650cc machine - the Dungannon man finding extra speed between the sessions to manage a best speed of 99.145mph.
Also running well were Roy Richardson on his 650cc Morrisey Special and 250cc Honda-mounted Barry Davidson.
Richardson also had a strong outing in the first combined 125cc/400cc session, recording a best of 93.926mph to head the timesheets on his 400cc Yamaha. The fastest 125 was Palmer's Mannin Honda, taking third place with a 93.24mph. In the second session, Alistair Howarth put his 400 Yamaha top with a 93.756mph, while William Dunlop put in another dominant performance to top the 125cc times with a 92.726mph on his Honda.
The sidecars were also out in force, with the opening session led by Ian and Carl Bell in their 600cc LCR Honda, recording a 94.55mph to head former World Champion Klaus Klaffenbock, once again partnered by Dan Sayle, who helped the Austrian secure his maiden TT wins this year.
The Southern 100 is scheduled to continue this evening with further practice and the first two races, the Senior and opening 600cc race.