John McGuinness, on his TT Legends Honda, got his 2012 Isle of Man TT off to a flying start by setting a fastest lap of 205.227km/h in the first Superbike practice session in dry and sunny conditions.
The 17-times TT winner and current lap record holder had a slow opening lap, but after making adjustments flew round in 17minutes 38.95 seconds to set a high benchmark for the opposition.
After completing the lap McGuinness said: “It was real tricky conditions out there and you had to be careful with the sun really bad in a couple of places.
“On the first lap I had a problem with the back shock and I stopped and had a quick look before cruising back.
“The boys did a good job and I got a flyer in at the end and I'm real happy with that.”
It was also a good evening for the Honda duo of Cameron Donald and William Dunlop with the Donald fastest in the Superstock class with a speed of 197.856km/h, second fastest behind McGuinness in the Superbike class at 202.206km/h and second in Supersport just behind his team mate Dunlop.
Dunlop's speed was 196.646km/h, but in the Superbike class the Irish rider struggled in 11th, saying, “It was hard work on the big bike, as it just wasn't behaving as it should.
“Because it was repaired after the crash at the North West it probably needs a bit of fine-tuning. But the 600 was really flying and I was happy with it.”
His versatile brother Michael set the second fastest time in the Superstock class behind Donald on a Kawasaki, eighth fastest in Superbike on a Honda and third fastest in Supersporton a Suzuki.
Popular Lincolnshire rider Guy Martin crashed the Trident Engineering XR69 at Cross Four Ways in the afternoon’s Pre-Classic Superbike race at Billown whilst disputing the lead with Jamie Coward. The riders came up to lap back markers on the final lap and Martin low-sided the classic Suzuki endurance racer but got away uninjured.
This comes on top of his escape at the North West 200 where he crashed his Supersport Suzuki at 190km/h.
It was a poor start for the Suzuki team as Martin’s team mate - and local hero - Conor Cummins decided to sit out the opening session for Superbikes, Superstock and Supersport machines.
But Martin, despite his spill earlier in the day, was out there, setting seventh fastest speed of 198.603km/h in Superbike and fifth fastest in Superstock.
He described his day like this: “I was out getting a few miles in at Billown when I ended up on my ear. No problems though and I had a good session. You get no medals for practice speeds and it was steady away. This is why I race bikes, the buzz of the TT.”
Simon Andrews, riding as McGuinness' team mate for TT Honda Legends, was the surprise packet of Superbike qualifying setting the fourth fastest time of the session in only his second TT, just slightly slower than third place man Bruce Anstey.
Ryan Farquhar picked up problems with his Kawasaki Superbike, saying after his opening lap: “I've a lot of work to do. I had no high-speed stability and it was a bit of a handful over the bumps.”
Farquhar, fastest in the Lightweight session for Supertwin machines on Saturday evening, was seventh fastest in Superbike at 197.045km/h.
Farquhar's protégé Jamie Hamilton, making his Isle of Man debut, put in a lap at 180.256km/h, the fastest of the rookies.
In the sidecar session the Birchall brothers crashed at Brandywell and were taken by Air Med to hospital for examination. - Belfast Telegraph