Isle of Man TT: Superbike opener put back to Sunday

Michael Dunlop and John McGuinness

Saturday's opening Superbike race at the Isle of Man TT has been postponed until Sunday following a week of curtailed practice sessions.

Bad weather affected several of the practice sessions so this Superbike race will start at 14:15 BST on Sunday.

The first sidecar race will take place on Saturday while there will also be practice for all solo classes.

Honda team-mates John McGuinness and Michael Dunlop are the favourites for the six-lap Superbike race.

Mountain Course maestro McGuinness hopes to further close on Joey Dunlop's record of 26 victories by adding to his current tally of 19 Isle of Man wins.

Michael has three successes to his name but has yet to savour a Superbike win.

"I feel really at home on the Superbike - given good conditions I don't see why lap records will not go," said Dunlop.

"We've made a few changes here and there along the way, but it's the best big bike I have ever been on and it's good to be competitive again after a couple of frustrating years with the Superbike," added the 24-year-old from Ballymoney.

The duo are likely to face stiffest competition from evergreen HM Plant Padgett's Honda rider Bruce Anstey, along with Tyco TAS Suzuki star Guy Martin.

Anstey showed impressive form in securing two podiums at the recent North West 200, while Martin continues to chase his maiden success on the daunting 37.73-mile circuit.

Michael Rutter, Cameron Donald, Gary Johnson and Simon Andrews also campaign Honda machinery, while Martin is joined in the Suzuki ranks by top British Superbike competitor Josh Brookes, who makes his debut.

James Hillier will be first off on the road as he takes the number one plate this year and he is joined in the Kawasaki ranks by Australian David Johnson and highly-rated English rider Dean Harrison.

William Dunlop and Conor Cummins spearhead the Yamaha challenge, with all the riders keen to get some track time after a practice week which has been curtailed by bad weather and struck by tragedy in the death of Japanese rider Yoshinari Matsushita.

William's best chance of a win should come in the week's two Supersport races, a class in which he has already enjoyed success at the North West and Ulster Grand Prix.

The solo racing programme is completed by one Superstock race, an outing for Supertwins in the Lightweight race, the TT Zero class for electric bikes and the blue riband of the meeting, the Senior TT, scheduled for Friday 7 June.

With Ryan Farquhar, Adrian Archibald and John Burrows having all retired from the sport, a new breed of hopefuls join the Dunlop brothers in forming the Northern Ireland challenge at this year's event.

Ballyclare rider Jamie Hamilton made a promising start to his TT career by picking up the Best Newcomer Award in 2012 and the 22-year-old will be fancied to make an impact in the Supertwins category in particular as he flies the flag for Ryan Farquhar's KMR Kawasaki outfit.

Fermanagh's Lee Johnston confines his efforts to the Supersport and Supertwins races as he continues his recovery from injuries sustained in a British championship round at Thruxton, while Shaun Anderson and Irish 125cc champion Sam Wilson are among the rising stars of the sport in Ireland.

Saintfield's Davy Morgan and Stephen Thompson from Crumlin should contend for top 12 places.

Race programme

Saturday, 1 June

(time tbc) - Sidecar 1 (three laps)

Sunday, 2 June

14:15 BST - Superbike (six laps)

Monday, 3 June

10:45 - Supersport race 1 (four laps)

14:00 - Superstock (four laps)

Wednesday, 5 June

10:45 - TT Zero (one lap)

12:00 - Supersport race 2 (four laps)

14:15 - Sidecar 2 (three laps)

Friday, 7 June

10:15 - Lightweight (three laps)

13:00 - Senior TT (six laps)

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