John McGuinness blazed to an unofficial lap record of over 112mph
After the frivolity of the '80s paddock carnival earlier in the day, the riders got back to the serious matter of the final official qualifying session at the 2014 Isle of Man Classic TT Races presented by Bennetts and the session was dominated by three of the TT's biggest names - John McGuinness, Michael Dunlop and outright Mountain Course lap record holder Bruce Anstey.
Conditions were described as the best of the week with riders warned of dazzling sunlight although there were still damp patches at Governors Dip.
In the first session, away on time at 18.20, Northern Ireland rider Lee Johnson was first away on his Black Eagle Racing 350cc MV Agusta with Michael Rutter alongside him riding the Seeley G50 that he'll race in tomorrow's Bennetts 500cc Classic TT Race. However, Rutter was reported as an early retirement at Ballacraine shortly after but Johnston went on to post the fastest 350 time of the evening (99.792mph).
John McGuinness was quickly on the pace in the 500's session and was fastest to Ramsey ahead of Ryan Farquhar, the pair riding the Team Winfield Patons and McGuinness laid down the gauntlet to the rest of the field, posting the fastest 500cc time of the week and inside race winner Olie Linsdell's lap record from last year's 500cc Race, setting himself up nicely for tomorrow's race. McGuinness later revealed that he'd actually been taking it steady through the opening sector as he was on new tyres.
Farquhar's 109.749 was the second fastest with Bruce Anstey on the McIntosh Norton (106.487), Ian Lougher on the Flitwick Motorcycles Paton (105.768), William Dunlop (105.739) and Michael Dunlop on the Molnar Manx Norton (105.348) all having useful shakedowns ahead of the first race day.The latter F1/F2 session Bruce Anstey (120.968) and Michael Dunlop (120.505), last year's race winner, continue to stamp their authority on the field. Dunlop's opening lap was all the more credible as it was clear that he lost a significant amount of time on the final sector and he later reported that his F1 machine was stuck in fourth gear on the run in from the Bungalow. Anstey, on his Valvolene by Padgetts Motorcycles YZR500 Yamaha then went quicker on his second lap, posting the fastest of the week to date with 122.888, inside his time from Wednesday's session.
Anstey's 122.888mph lap puts him just shy of the existing two-stroke lap record of 122.93mph, which was set by Ian Lougher on a V-twin Honda NSR500 in the 1999 Senior TT.
Today's's first race day features the Bennetts 500cc Race, which is scheduled to get away at 12.30, which follows a qualifying session for the F1/F2 and 350cc machines.