TT Riders On Form 7 May 2004
Early indications of TT form are being obtained from the opening events of the
Irish calendar, with TT competitors
Richard Britton and Bruce Anstey
demonstrating early prowess at the Cookstown 100 and Tandragee 100.
In fine conditions, Enniskillen's Britton moved to second in the Duke Road Race
Rankings with victory in the Tandaragee feature race, including establishing a
new lap record of over 104mph. Last year's TT Formula One and Senior TT winner
Adrian Archibald did not
ride, but his team-mate for the TT Bruce Anstey was
third on his production specification private Dawson Suzuki behind Duke series
leader Darran Lindsay.
The main tryout for the TT will come at the North West 200 to be held on
Saturday May 15, when it is expected that Hector and Philip Neill's top two,
Archibald and Anstey, will turn out on the Temple Auto Salvage Suzukis they will
campaign in the Isle of Man.
The crew which finished second overall to Nick Crowe and Darren Hope in last
year's Sidecar TT are hopeful of at least similar things this year. Andy Laidlow
from Appleby in Cumbria will again be passengered by Patrick Farrance of Ossett,
West Yorkshire, with a lap at over 108mph already to their credit.
After last year's TT aboard the ex-Colin Edwards World Superbike-winning Honda,
six-times TT winner Ian
Lougher reverts to Mark Johns' machines for the two big races this year. He
has a CBR998RR for the Formula One and Senior races, to go with the Manton
Group's 600cc Honda for the Junior and 600 Production, Black Horse Motorcycle
Finance Fireblade for the 1000 Production and the usual Lloyds TSB Offshore
Finance 125 Mannin Collections Honda for the Ultra Lightweight. Besides his
Island successes, Ian has 71 wins at Scarborough, 29 at the Southern 100, nine at the Ulster Grand Prix and five
at the North West 200!
Making a welcome return to the TT this year is Carl Rennie. After an absence of
two years the 33-year-old panel beater from Burscough in Lancashire has entered
five races on PRF Racing Suzukis. In 2000 Carl was fifth in the Production,
eighth in the F1 and 10th in the Senior.
The move to ensure a full grid for the Senior TT seems to have paid off. In
recent years the 80 fastest qualifiers from practising were invited, but many of
those were unable to compete as machine mortality from previous races took its
toll. Now, riders have entered in advance the same as the other classes, and a
field of 90 has been attracted. Those wishing to compete in the Manx Grand Prix will no longer be
ruled out, providing they stick to Production bikes throughout the TT.
Almost without saying, Adrian
Archibald will carry the prestigious No. 1 plate in all his five races, with
Dave Molyneux and Daniel Sayle taking the honours in the Sidecars. In the Ultra
Lightweight 125 first away will be last year's winner Chris Palmer, while the
concurrent Lightweight 400 race will be headed by 2004 winner John McGuinness carrying No.
Lightweight 250cc machines are naturally getting thinner on the ground now that
the class has been discontinued in its own right. But the vee-twin two-strokes
will still have a small but distinguished presence. Among those still galloping
such mounts will be Chris
Palmer, Paul Owen,
Bud Jackson and Norman
Kneen, with Owen optimistically even sticking to his for the Senior.
The Lightweight 400 looks like being quite a tear-up this year. Jason Griffiths,
Richard Britton, Jim Hodson and John Barton all have a good
chance of a first TT win if they can overcome John McGuinness on the RLR
Motorsports Honda. Britton also goes for a Honda, while Griffiths and Barton opt
New Zealander Shaun
Harris and chief sponsor Des Collins have signed a TT "Treaty of
Non-Aggression"! The pair have "shaken hands" by telephone guaranteeing that
any differences which arise in the heat of battle will be set aside in the
interests of getting results. Shaun has turned down the 750cc Kawasaki used by
Mark Parrett to win last
year's Senior Manx Grand Prix,
opting instead for the newer 1000cc ZX10 from the same Wilson and Collins
stable. Somewhat surprisingly, Shaun also has an entry in the 125 this year,
where he will take on Ian
Palmer, James Crumpton and Robert Dunlop. All 22
entries are on RS Hondas!
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