– – both BMWs in the Superbike and Superstock events – so he will not be swapping and changing to different makes and brands of machine like Hicky.

On paper, Michael Dunlop (above) will probably start as the biggest threat to Hickman, again with Hawk Racing but now on Honda machinery in the big bike classes.

Now the most successful rider in the history of the Supersport class with nine wins, he is rapidly closing in on the only two riders ahead of him in the TT’s all-time list of winners – John McGuinness with 23 and his own legendary uncle Joey with 26. Dunlop could, theoretically, overtake both this year and he has only recently turned 34.

Manxman Conor Cummins [who was away on a family holiday last weekend] and Milenco by Padgetts Motorcycles team-mate Davey Todd will be vying with Dunlop to be the fastest Honda rider round the course, an honour that has been in Cummins’s possession for the last few years.

Dean Harrison will again be flying the Kawasaki flag with DAO Racing in the big bike classes this year, but he is swapping to a Yamaha R6 for the Supersport events.

He was giving very little away at the weekend, as it has very much been ‘same as’ for several years (except for the Yamaha switch above) with what he describes as a great family team around him. But he admitted it is difficult to get in the top three these days as the TT is so competitive.

Other men likely to be in the mix in the solo class include the Honda Racing duo of John McGuinness and local ace Nathan Harrison, multiple podium finisher James Hillier, back with OMG Racing for the second year, the aforementioned Lee Johnston and Josh Brookes, and leading privateer Jamie Coward with the KTS Racing team – the fastest Yamaha rider in TT history but largely under the radar.

l News on the sidecars in the Manx Independent.