Practising for the first Southern 100 in three years began in near-perfect conditions on Monday evening.

Hot foot from a successful hat-trick of wins at Walderstown, County Leinster the day before, Michael Dunlop set the quickest lap in the opening 1000cc session on the Hawk Racing Buildbase Suzuki with an average speed of 111.274mph, a fraction over half-a-second faster than Dean Harrison on the DAO Racing Kawasaki.

Jamie Coward (Steadplan Yamaha) and Davey Todd (Padgett’s Honda) were a little further off the initial pace, closely followed by Rob Hodson and leading locals Nathan Harrison and Ryan Kneen.

An hour-and-a-half later Dean Harrison knocked Dunlop off provisional pole with a lap of 113.732mph, almost two seconds faster than the Ballymoney man’s improved second session time.

Coward and Nathan Harrison also lapped at more than 110mph.

Dean also topped the 600cc class, but it was much closer here with Coward less than two tenths of a second adrift.

Coward was top of the 250/700cc twins class in both sessions, each time followed by Rob Hodson, Paul Jordan, Jonathan Perry, Barry Furber and Rhys Hardisty in a complete carbon-copy

.Defending sidecar champions Pete Founds and Jevan Walmsley were the quickest in the lone sidecar session with a best lap of 98.418mph, 2.3s faster than Tim Reeves and Kevin Rousseau - the latter in his first taste of closed roads action on the Billown course.

Brothers Ryan and Callum Crowe were third best on the Triumph - a mere five 1,000ths of a second down on Reeves/Rousseau.

Former champions John Holden and Dan Sayle were fifth quickest behind Greg Lambert/Andy Hayes, despite a very close shave at Church Bends.

Practising continues this evening (Tuesday) at 6.18pm, with the opening race at 8 o’clock for Lightweight twins, followed at 8.35pm by an open capacity solo race.

Roads will be closed between 6.05pm and 9.40pm.

There will be a similar closure tomorrow evening (Wednesday) for four more races.

Thursday will feature four races in the morning from 9.50am (roads closed 9.30am to 12.45pm), with the final four races of the meeting commencing at 1.50pm (road closed 1.30 to 4.45pm).

The Hunts Motorcycles Solo Championship race will start at 3.20pm approximately and the Daryl Blake Construction Sidecar Championship event at 4pm approximately.

Full reports from this week’s Isle of Man Steam Packet Company Southern 100 will appear in Thursday’s Manx Independent and next Tuesday’s Isle of Man Examiner (July 19).