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McGuinness leads TT charge down Bray Hill
6 April 2012
Isle of Man TT Superbike king John McGuinness has been allocated the number one plate for the second year in succession as he seeks an incredible 18th victory on the Mountain Course in June.
The Morecambe rider, second only to Ulster road racing legend Joey Dunlop on the all-time honours list at the TT, returns to defend his Superbike and Senior crowns on the Honda TT Legends Fireblade.
McGuinness returned to the top of the podium in 2011 with a spectacular double in the blue riband class to reaffirm his status as the undisputed master of the 37.73-mile Mountain circuit.
However, he was forced to ward off the threat of Kiwi Bruce Anstey in the Dainese Superbike race until the Padgetts Honda rider was forced to retire from the race, while Guy Martin made McGuinness work hard for his 17th success in the PokerStars Senior event before fading in the second half of the six-lap showpiece.
Northern Ireland's Ryan Farquhar, who competed only in the Senior race last year after a crash during practice at Keppel Gate put a massive dampener on his TT aspirations, sets off behind McGuinness at number two.
Tyco TAS Suzuki's Martin retains the number three plate, followed by Australia's Cameron Donald - a double TT winner in 2008 - on Wilson Craig's Honda.
Donald, who heads the entries at this weekend's Easter holiday Irish Superbike meetings at Bishopscourt and Kirkistown, will be chased down Bray Hill by the evergreen Anstey at number five on Clive Padgett's Honda Fireblade.
Ian Hutchinson - who dominated the TT in 2010 with a record five victories - starts at number six as he aims to return to the TT on Shaun Muir's Yamaha YZF-R1 after overcoming his latest injury setback.
Anstey's team-mate in the Superbike class, Gary Johnson from
Lincolnshire - who won his first race at the TT in the Supersport class in 2011 - goes at number seven and is followed by Ballymoney's Adrian Archibald.
Two-times TT winner Michael Dunlop, victorious in the Superstock event last June, will be number nine, with Manx hero Conor Cummins on the second Tyco TAS Suzuki at number 10.
Dunlop said he was happy to start with the number nine plate, the same position he occupied on the start line at the Glencrutchery Road last year.
"Number nine suits me fine," said Dunlop. "Adrian (Archibald) is in front of me and Adrian is a great rider, he's safe and smooth and at least with Adrian if you catch him on the road, he holds his hands up and says 'fair play, you caught me' and doesn't try and do anything stupid or hold you up.
"I'll just put the head down and do my own thing and concentrate hard."
William Dunlop will carry number 15 on his Wilson Craig Honda machines, while McGuinness' team-mate, Simon Andrews, is number 17.
Riders with numbers one to 20 will remain in that order for every solo class at TT 2012, with numbers 21 onwards allocated according to the corresponding qualifying times.
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