Northern Ireland's Ryan Farquhar set the early pace in the Lightweight class as practice for the 2012 Isle of Man TT races commenced in perfect conditions on Saturday evening.

Farquhar, fresh from his victory in the Supertwin race at the North West 200 - when his KMR Kawasaki team-mates Jeremy McWilliams and Michael Rutter completed a clean sweep of the rostrum positions for the Co Tyrone man - is being tipped as a big favourite in the inaugural Lightweight Supertwin race at the TT next Friday.

And he quickly reinforced his status as the man to beat on his Kawasaki ER6, setting the best lap of the 37.73-mile Mountain Course at 113.587mph on his second lap.

Related Articles

Adrian Archibald from Ballymoney could emerge as a major threat to Farquhar in the Supertwin race and he ended the first session closest to his fellow countryman with an average speed of 112.925mph, followed by Aussie Cameron Donald - having his first outing on the roads on his ER6 machine - at 112.035mph and William Dunlop at 111.139mph.

Dunlop was also riding his Supertwin on the roads for the first time, but was badly hampered by vision problems after collecting a number of flies on his visor.

"I was sitting up everywhere trying to see where I was going," Dunlop said.

"We also had a different set of forks in the bike so it handled completely differently to how it was when I tested it at Nutts Corner, so it didn't really go all that well for me even though I ended up fourth."

James Hillier, who lapped at 110.866mp, was timed through the Sulby speed trap at 146.2mph.

The session was delayed by 40 minutes as a result of an issue with the circuit communication system, which left three sectors out of range.

Due to the time lost at the beginning of the session, the Lightweight machines were out on track for 40 minutes rather than the scheduled 60.

The first batch of newcomers left the Glencrutchery Road start line to complete their first proper lap of the iconic Mountain Course under controlled conditions behind Rider Liaison Officer Richard 'Milky' Quayle shortly after 7pm.

There were warnings of melting tar at Guthrie's as a result of the high temperatures.

Among the first riders away were Jimmy Storrar, former British Superbike ace Karl Harris and Lee Johnston, who finished as the runner-up in the first Superstock race at the North West 200 on the Millsport Ducati Panigale.

Retired road racer Keith Amor also led some of the newcomers around the course, including Ballyclare's Jamie Hamilton on the KMR Kawasaki.

Hamilton was quickest of the newcomers at 106.015mph, with Johnston lapping at 103.831mph and Harris at 99.620mph

Dave Molyneux, back racing at the TT after a year's absence, was quickest in the Sidecar class with a lap of 110.831mph followed by Harrison (108.364), Bryan (107.439), Reeves (107.259) and Birchall (106.653).

On Monday evening, 17-times winner John McGuinness takes to the circuit for the first time with official qualifying for the main Superbike, Superstock and Supersport classes getting under way.

Tyco Suzuki's Guy Martin, Michael Dunlop, Conor Cummins, Bruce Anstey, Gary Johnson, Ian Hutchinson and Michael Rutter will also complete their first laps of 2012, with practice scheduled to commence at 6.20pm.