2022 Isle of Man TT [3/6] | Hickman, Dunlop the targets; Irwin shines in final Q

Peter Hickman and Michael Dunlop head into race week for the 2022 Isle of Man TT as the riders to beat across the four solo classes as six days of qualifying practice concluded on Friday evening.
Peter Hickman - Gas Monkey FHO BMW M 1000 RR
Peter Hickman - Gas Monkey FHO BMW M 1000 RR

With inclement weather conditions prompting organisers to shift the final free session of the week from the afternoon to the evening, the legacy of earlier rain prevented many of the top riders from pushing the limit.

As such, there was no change atop the fastest lap leaderboard compared with Thursday, assuring Peter Hickman first position in the Superbike, Superstock and Supertwins reckoning. Consolidating his status coming into the event as the rider to beat, Hickman was also fifth fastest in the Supersport class on the Triumph Street Triple 765 RS.

It means, the BSB race winner is well placed to match or even exceed Ian Hutchinson’s benchmark five wins in a single TT as he goes for glory in six races this coming week.

Friday’s headlines belonged to Michael Dunlop though, the 19-time TT winner rounding off what has been a momentum building week by topping the Supersport, Superstock and Supertwins timesheets on the night.

In the headlining Superbike ranks, Hickman’s 133.220mph effort from Thursday remained best, even if he did come close to beating it on Friday evening despite the conditions with a 132.874mph. Still comfortably quicker than the fastest speed of his nearest competitor, Hickman is hot favourite for victory in Saturday’s Superbike TT aboard the Gas Monkey BMW M 1000 RR.

2019 Senior TT winner Dean Harrison on the DAO Kawasaki ZX-10RR rallied against Hickman earlier in the week but goes into the first of the two Superbike races in arrears with a best of 132.333mph. Arguably the standout of the event so far, Davey Todd remains in third with a best of 132.187mph, though his Friday activity was curtailed by technical issues on his Milenco by Padgetts Honda. 

A big step up in performance from Dunlop on Thursday hauled him into Superbike podium contention on the Hawk Suzuki at 131.440mph, while Conor Cummins ended the week as the fifth and final rider to join the 130mph-plus ‘club’ on 130.867.

Glenn Irwin - Honda Racing
Glenn Irwin - Honda Racing

Ahead of what will be a momentous 100th TT start, 23-time winner John McGuinness headed up the factory Honda challenge in sixth position. 

However, on Friday evening at least, his limelight was stolen by a stunning effort from rookie team-mate Glenn Irwin. The only leading Superbike rider to post a substantial improvement on the final evening, Irwin surged up the order from 22nd to eighth with a new personal best of 128.268mph, his lap only a whisker shy of Peter Hickman’s rookie TT lap record from 2014.

James Hillier was another to make a minor improvement to split the Hondas in seventh, with Jamie Coward (KTS Yamaha), Ian Hutchinson (Milwaukee BMW) and Philip Crowe (Handtrans Haulage/Nigel Appleyard BMW) completing the best ten laps of the week.

2022 Isle of Man TT [3/6] | Hickman, Dunlop the targets; Irwin shines in final Q

Supersport, Superstock, Supertwins

Dunlop consolidated his short odds for victory in the week’s two Supersport races by topping the timesheets once more on his MD Racing Yamaha R6, even if it didn’t exceed his 126.662mph benchmark from Thursday.

Still, he was pushed hard by Hickman during Friday’s session, the Louth rider spending less time on the Supersport this week but finding pace on the final evening to set the second best lap, lifting him to fifth place.

Between them remain Dean Harrison on the DAO KawasakI ZX-6R, Jamie Coward on the KTS Yamaha and Lee Johnston on the Ashcourt Yamaha R6.

In the Superstock ranks, Hickman ended the week on top with a best speed posted on Wednesday, though it was Dunlop - this time on the MD Racing Honda - quickest on the night.

Meanwhile, the two riders look set to square up in the Supertwins class after ending the week closely matched on identical Paton machinery. Though Dunlop was quicker on the night, Hickman’s Thursday lead of 120.994mph remained fastest overall, marginally ahead of his rival’s 120.965mph best.

The 2022 Isle of Man TT race week kicks off on Saturday with the 6-lap at 12:00, plus the first of two Sidecar races this week.

Read More