Practice evening marks start of Steam Packet-sponsored meeting
THE Steam Packet-sponsored Southern 100 meeting got under way with practice at Billown on Monday evening, with some of the leading TT riders quickly in their stride around the 4.25-mile course.
Guy Martin continued his fine TT form in the evening’s first session for 1000cc machines, setting the early pace with a fastest lap of two minutes 21.844 seconds (107.865mph) on his 1000cc Relentless by Tas Racing machine.
2010 champion Ryan Farquhar (2:26.993) and Russ Mountford (2:27.801) were also on the pace.
Former winners Australian Cameron Donald, racing for Wilson Craig Honda and Ian Lougher on his Blackhorse Kawasaki made up the top five, just ahead of Dan Kneen, a late entrant on his Mark Bloom Yamaha, and 2010 Manx Grand Prix Senior winner Si Fulton.
In the 1000cc’s second practice later in the evening Martin continued to set the pace but Paul Cranston came through as the second fastest rider on the night with 2:24.839 and Lougher improved his earlier time with 2:26.325. Conor Cummins continued his comeback from his 2010 TT accident with 2:27.523 to complete the top five.
Guy Martin also topped the 600cc leaderboard with Farquhar and Kneen making up the top three. The former posted the fastest 600cc lap of the night with 2:25.434 (105.202), set in the second session but with Farquhar and Donald also improving their earlier times, Guy will have his work cut out to stand on the top step in Thursday’s packed race schedule.
In the 125/400cc class, multiple winner Chris Palmer topped both practice sessions; 2:42.556 in the first and going slightly quicker with 2:40.570 in the second.
An incident in the second 250/650 practice saw the session red flagged with the only recorded times in the class from the first session. Ryan Farquhar and Ian Lougher was the top two and will be the men to beat on Wednesday and Thursdsay.
The sidecars also got some early track time with Simon Neary/Jason Crowe looking to make up for their TT disappointment. A lap of 2:37.484, set in in the latter part of the session was comfortably the fastest on the night.
Ian Bell/Carl Bell were also on the pace and with TT winning teams John Holden/Andy Winkle and Klaus Klaffenbock/Dan Sayle also in the field it promises to be a competitive class.
Today, Tuesday, sees further practice schedule with a number of the Irish riders joining the event including Michael and William Dunlop. The evening programme will also include the Solo Founders race and a six-lap sidecar race.