Freelancer Michael Dunlop breaks the all-time record in the final Isle of Man TT qualifier on Friday.

Freelancer Michael Dunlop breaks the all-time record in the final Isle of Man TT qualifier on Friday.

Michael Dunlop in Gooseneck Level | © Isle of Man TT Race

Michael Dunlop made history on Friday afternoon by setting the fastest lap ever on a 60-mile track Snaefell Mountain Course. The 34-year-old Northerner broke Peter Hickman’s 2018 lap record in the fifth and final qualifying session for this Isle of Man TT with an average speed of 135.531mph.

The fifth and final qualifying session for the 2023 Isle of Man TT took place on Friday afternoon. As it was all week, the weather on the island was beautiful. The difference from previous days, however, was that the sun was now higher in the sky because this session was held in the afternoon instead of the lower sun during the evening sessions. As a result, the drivers were not painted in certain areas of the circuit and had full visibility throughout the entire lap. So the expectation was that the cycle times would be further strengthened and that was the case.

The order of the sessions was different from the first four days. Sidecars now took to the track first, followed by the Supersport & Supertwin classes and finally the Superbike & Superstock categories.

Because the weather has been good this week, and not a single session was canceled for the side teams, many teams had already completed enough laps to be ready for the first race tomorrow (Saturday). For example, Ben and Tom Birchall took to the track and did a short run with new tires so they could run before the start of the race on Saturday. At Ballacraine (about thirteen kilometers after the start/finish) they parked their car where the team had stopped to change the new tires to the used ones. With that, the Birchalls then drove to the pits at a comfortable pace for the remainder, to be fully prepared for the first race, in which they are once again favourites.

With an average lap of 117.807 mph, Peter Founds and Jevan Walmsley were fastest in this final qualifying session ahead of Ryan Crowe / Callum Crowe and Tim Reeves / Mark Wilkes. The fastest time of the week goes to the Birchall brothers who broke their lap record on Thursday evening.

Results Sidecar qualifying 5:

  1. Peter Founds / Jevan Walmsley – Honda LCR | 117.807 mph – 19’12.974
  2. Ryan Crowe/Callum Crowe–Honda LCR | 116.452 per hour – 19’26.382
  3. Tim Reeves/Mark Wilkes–Yamaha LCR | 113.509 per hour – 19’56.629
  4. Steve Ramsden/Matthew Ramsden–Honda LCR | 112.719 mph – 20’05.012
  5. Gary Bryan/Phillip Hyde–Honda Baker | 112.088 mph – 20’11.798

Super twin
Then it was time for the individual classes and many drivers chose to take the track first with the Supertwin machine. However, there was a big problem for Peter Hickman who has not completed a lap all week on his Yamaha YZF-R7. To qualify for the race, a rider must complete at least two full laps, so Friday afternoon was Hickman’s last chance to qualify for the Supertwin race.

He did not succeed because again after about ten kilometers he stopped with the Yamaha, after which he returned to the paddock on a BMW GS borrowed from a spectator. Basically, this means that Hickman has not qualified in the Supertwin class and is not allowed to participate in this week’s two races, however, race officials can still give him permission and since Hickman is one of the top drivers, that is. acceptable. Whether the nine-time TT winner will join Yamaha or whether he has another Supertwin ready is the question.

One who was once very fast on the Supertwin was Michael Dunlop. After breaking the record once in the first qualifying session on Monday, he decided not to use the Paton S1-R in the following sessions because the pace was ready. On Friday afternoon, Dunlop ran one more lap on the Supertwin and there caused the sensation to improve his fastest time of Monday by another five seconds. With an average of 123.474 mph, Dunlop set another Supertwin lap record, more than twenty seconds faster than Jamie Coward in second place.

Results Supertwin Qualifying 5:

  1. Michael Dunlop – Paton | 123.474 mph – 18’20.052
  2. Jamie Coward–Kawasaki | 121.080 per hour – 18’41.800
  3. Mike Browne–Paton | 119.522 mph – 18’56.427
  4. Pierre Yves Bian – Paton | 119.131 per hour – 19’00.159
  5. Josh Brookes–Kawasaki | 118.559 mph – 19’05.659

Super sports
Like many other drivers, Dunlop then mounted his Supersport machine for another lap. Again, the 21-time TT winner was fastest with an average lap time of 127.510mph on his Yamaha ahead of Dean Harrison and Davey Todd.

Dominic Herbertson, known from the podcast Chasin’ the Racin’, changed teams in the Supersport class because the Cowton Racing Kawasaki had died on Thursday evening. On the Dafabet Yamaha Racing team, replacing the injured Matt Stevenson, Herbertson set the eighth fastest time (123.362 mph) of the session.

Supersport 5 qualifying results:

  1. Michael Dunlop–Yamaha | 127.510 per hour – 17’45.232
  2. Dean Harrison–Yamaha | 127.216 per hour – 17’47.691
  3. Davey Todd–Honda | 125.715 mph – 18’00.444
  4. Mike Browne–Yamaha | 125.049 per hour – 18’06.196
  5. Peter Hickman–Triumph–124.842 mph–18’08.000

the best bike
The biggest highlight of the day came in the Superbike and Superstock classes. Michael Dunlop got off to a strong start, averaging 134.270 mph in his first lap on the Honda CBR1000RR-R Fireblade: his fastest personal time ever on Mountain Course and also the busiest time of the week.

It didn’t end there because Dunlop drove the second lap back and added more speed. With an average lap of 135.531 mph (16’42.189) he made history by setting the fastest lap of the Isle of Man TT. As a result, Dunlop came a tenth off Peter Hickman’s lap record which has stood since the Senior TT in 2018. However, because this lap was run in a qualifying session and not in the race, this lap record is not officially used. In any case, it was remarkable for 34-year-old Dunlop to break his uncle Joey Dunlop’s record (26 TT wins) this year. Judging by his form so far, that certainly doesn’t seem unlikely.

Because Michael Dunlop drove this impressive circuit and had broken the lap record, there was little visibility on the performance of Peter Hickman and John McGuinness. Hickman was also blazing fast on his BMW M 1000 RR, averaging a lap of 134.910 mph, just four seconds slower than Dunlop’s. That was also his fastest time of the week, but when Hickman heard about Dunlop’s lap on arrival, he wasn’t satisfied.

Dean Harrison’s laps were also impressive, with the Kawasaki rider averaging 134.216 mph, just two seconds off the fastest time he has ever set on the Isle of Man. Josh Brookes and 51-year-old John McGuinness also did well, averaging lap times over 131 mph.

Davey Todd had to pull over at Ballacraine on the second lap due to an oil leak. Like Hickman during the Supertwin period, the Briton had to return to the field via public roads to be able to rejoin the track with a Superstock machine afterwards.

Top 5 Bike Qualifying Results:

  1. Michael Dunlop–Honda | 135.531 mph – 16’42.189
  2. Peter Hickman–BMW | 134.910 per hour – 16’46.801
  3. Dean Harrison–Kawasaki | 134.216 per hour – 16’52.009
  4. Davey Todd–Honda | 132.194 per hour – 17’07.486
  5. Josh Brookes-BMW | 131,098 – 17’16,079

Finally, some drivers took to the line with their Superstock machines for the final qualifying round before the race starts on Saturday. Davey Todd on his Honda CBR1000RR-R Fireblade averaged a lap of 131.080 mph, fastest ahead of Mike Browne and James Hillier.

Superstock 5 qualifying results:

  1. Davey Todd–Honda | 131.080 per hour – 17’16.219
  2. Mike Browne–BMW | 129.664 mph – 17’27.540
  3. James Hillier–Yamaha | 129.099 per hour – 17’32.124
  4. John McGuinness-Honda | 128.476 mph – 17’37.224
  5. Michael Rutter–BMW | 126.979 per hour – 17’49.688

That concludes a great first week of the 2023 Isle of Man TT with five days of action. On Saturday the stage starts at over sixty kilometers in length Mountain Course and a warm up lap for anyone who would like to do so before the first race of the week. At 11:45 am local time, 12:45 am Dutch time, the first Supersport race of this TT will start with four laps. At 2:15 PM local time, 3:15 PM Dutch time, the first side race of this TT will take place over three laps. partners for the 2023 edition of the Isle of Man TT Race:
BMW Motorrad | Van den Brink refrigerator | Halvarssons

Key links Isle of Man TT Race 2023

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