For the third year in a row, the Supersport 600cc class at the 2015 Isle of Man TT Races, fuelled by Monster Energy, received more entries than any of the categories and with almost 110 received, not only was it oversubscribed but it also gave the organisers the biggest of headaches before they were able to confirm the grid that will assemble on Glencrutchery Road later this year.
As in previous years, the top 20 seeded riders shows a number of changes from the 1000cc grid but, having won four out of the last five races, as well as setting a lap record of almost 129mph, Michael Dunlop will, arguably, be the man to beat again. The Ballymoney rider will once again line up at number 3 but this time for his own MD Racing team with his choice of machinery yet to be confirmed.
Honda or Yamaha are most likely for the Irishman and there are a number of riders on similarly mounted who could provide a challenge, particularly the Valvoline Racing by Padgetts Honda duo of Bruce Anstey and Cameron Donald. The Antipodean pairing, who were split by just 0.77s in the opening Supersport race of 2012, will again be pushing hard and looking to post more 127mph+ starting laps from their respective start numbers of 5 and 11, Australian ace Donald returning to the class after a year’s absence.
The Jackson Racing duo of John McGuinness, number 1, and Conor Cummins, from number 4, will also be Honda-mounted as will Keith Amor (12), the Scot already a four-time podium finisher in the class, and the third Valvoline rider, Dan Kneen. The Manxman’s best TT result came in the class in 2010 when he finished fifth and he has a great chance of bettering that this time around.
Yamaha, and specifically, the Mar-Train Racing team, have a fantastic opportunity of getting on to the top step of the podium with the formidable looking partnership of Dean Harrison and Gary Johnson. Harrison took a brace of fourth’s last year and is deservedly promoted up the order to number two while Johnson, a late addition to the team, took a superb victory in the opening 600cc encounter twelve months ago.
William Dunlop, another regular podium finisher in the class, remains at number 6 but switches to the CD Racing Yamaha machine and is yet another potential race winner as is his Tyco Racing Superbike team-mate Guy Martin. The Lincolnshire rider has replaced Johnson at the British Championship winning Smiths Racing Triumph team and his best chance of victory at the 2015 TT could well come in the two Supersport races.
Another Smiths Racing Triumph rider David Johnson will again go off at number 16 while Lee Johnston is another rider to switch to the British manufacturer. The East Coast Construction rider retains the number 13 plate. Two more manufacturers are represented in the top ten start order with Ian Hutchinson (9) set to ride the Tsingtao Racing MV Agusta, an intriguing ride for the eight time winner, and James Hillier (10) on the Quattro Plant Kawasaki.
Michael Rutter drops down to number 14 with Dan Stewart starting at 18 again. The three remaining seeds are all riders who enjoyed excellent results in the class last year, none more so than Ivan Lintin who is promoted up the order to 17 on the RC Express Racing Kawasaki. Russ Mountford (Silicone Engineering) and Jamie Hamilton (BE Racing) complete the seeded riders at numbers 19 and 20 respectively.
There’s plenty of quality outside the top 20 as well with Peter Hickman (21), James Cowton (22), Dan Cooper (23), Sam Wilson (25), Steve Mercer (26) and Robert Wilson (27) just some of the riders more than capable of at least a top 15,.
Other riders to look out for include Czech Republic rider Michal Dokoupil (28), Jamie Coward (30), Ryan Kneen (34), Connor Behan (35) and a whole host of rapid Manx Grand Prix riders who move up to the TT, none more so than last year’s Junior and Senior race winners Andy Lawson (49) and Andrew Soar (57). The race also sees three newcomers in the shape of Danish rider Robbin Harms, Ireland’s Derek McGee and Gareth Keys with McGee especially, on the Wilson Craig Racing Honda, a definite one to watch.
Some 97 entries have been accepted for the two four-lap races, which will again be incredibly close and hard fought, but with just 78 places up for grabs on the grid, a starting position will definitely have to be earned.