To say this year’s Isle of Man TT’s Supersport class is robust is an understatement. The 600cc Supersport class, which will compete in two four-lap Monster Energy TTs, has 95 entries, but only 78 positions on the starting grid.This is the most entries of any other classes for the 2016 IOM TT, which also includes the Superbike, Superstock, and TT Zero categories. The fight begins for grid positions on the 37.73-mile Mountain Course on Saturday, May 28.
This group includes many former TT winners, headed up by the man who won both Monster Energy Supersport TTs last season, Ian Hutchinson. Hutchy, who swept all five solo TT races in 2010 before missing a few TTs due to injury, will return on the Keith Flint’s Team Traction Control Yamaha YZF-R6 donning the number four.
The Bingley Bullet has 11 TT wins – just as many as Michael Dunlop, who holds the Supersport class record at nearly 129mph on the Snaefell Mountain Course. The Ballymoney pilot (number 6) will return with the MD Racing team, though machinery has yet to be confirmed.Four Honda riders will surely be the largest threats, including the Jackson Racing duo of John McGuniness (number 1) and Conor Cummins (number 10). McGuinness enters the 2016 Isle of Man TT with 23 TT wins, three shy of the record held by the late Joey Dunlop.Valvoline Racing by Padgetts Honda CBR600RR rider Bruce Anstey finished runner up in both Supersport TTs last year, and he’ll be challenging for the win. The other Honda CBR600RR threat is Cameron Donald, who returns with Wilson Craig Racing.Due to experience and TT wins, this group of riders will present the biggest challenges during this year’s race. However, there are still plenty of big names that will compete aboard a bunch of different machinery from Kawasaki, Honda, Yamaha and Triumph, including the American Mark Miller (number 31).Following is from the official TT Press Release:Yamaha, and specifically the Mar-Train Racing team, have a strong opportunity with Manxman Dan Kneen (14) who recorded his best TT finish to date of fifth in the opening race of 2010. However, William Dunlop (8) on the CD Racing machine will fancy his chances of being the first Yamaha rider home having already finished on the podium three times in this race.Triumph have two potential winners in Gary Johnson (7) and Lee Johnston (13), the former having previously won the race on the British machine when riding for Smiths Racing in 2014. This time around he’s riding for T3 Racing while Johnston (13) will again line up for his regular East Coast Construction team, which could provide his best opportunity of claiming a maiden TT victory.James Hillier (3) will again spearhead Kawasaki’s efforts on the Quattro Plant Muc-Off machine as he looks to step on to a 600cc rostrum for the first time, an ambition shared by Peter Hickman (5) on his privately entered ZX-6R and Dean Harrison on the Silicone Engineering entrant. Other quick men on Kawasakis include Michael Rutter (9) riding for Bathams/SMT Racing and Iast year’s Lightweight race winner Ivan Lintin who again has the number 20 plate for Devitt RC Express Racing.Australian David Johnson, Dan Stewart and Martin Jessopp will again start at numbers 15, 17 and 18 respectively whilst the top 20 riders shows just two differences to the 1000cc races with Dan Cooper (16) and James Cowton (19) being seeded on this occasion.As always, there’s plenty of quality outside the top 20 as well with Jamie Coward (21), Daniel Hegarty (22), last year’s Newcomers Trophy winner Derek McGee (24), Steve Mercer (25) and 2015 Manx GP winner Malachi Mitchell-Thomas (23) just some of the names more than capable of top 15 finishes.Other riders to look out for include Sam West (27), Mark Miller (31), Connor Behan (34), Christopher Dixon (39) and Hudson Kennaugh (43) while a number of Manx Grand Prix riders step up to the TT for the first time including David Sellers (44), Rob Hodson (49), Joseph Newbould (50), Karl Foster (61) and local rider Paul Smyth (62).Such as been the quality and depth of the entry, just three newcomers have been accepted but there’s an international flavour with Northern Ireland’s Seamus Elliott, Canada’s Darren James and Norway’s Olaf Romjin set to line up for the Monday and Wednesday races.Photos by Wayne Freestone
This week we ride two genre-departing motorcycles from the established American manufacturers. Jess McKinley gives us his thoughts on the all new Harley-Davidson Pan America Special, and Ron Lieback gives his on Indian’s latest version of the FTR 1200 S.