TT 2016 START SHAKE-UP
P82 Hickman climbs the ranks ahead of Dunlop as TT starting order gets major re-shuffle
MCN has been given exclusive access to one of the most eagerly awaited announcements of the road racing year: the 2016 TT start numbers.
The big shock in this year’s listings is Peter Hickman’s rise up the ranks from a starting position of 17 in last year’s Superbike TT to the No5 slot in June. That will see the JG Speedfit Kawasaki rider head down Bray Hill just 10 seconds behind Ian Hutchinson on the Tyco BMW and the same distance in front of BMW’S Michael Dunlop.
With only split seconds now separating the leading riders in every race, the start position in the TT time trial has more significance than ever before.
Hickman’s fastest lap of 131.626mph in last year’s Senior TT, set on a superstock spec Lee Hardy Racing/briggs BMW S1000RR, is just 0.07s slower than Hutchy’s fastest TT lap but almost 1mph shy of Dunlop’s. The TT’S fastest ever newcomer posted what was the eighth fastest Mountain course lap of all-time during last year’s Senior race in only his second appearance.
“I had asked to be moved up the order and I am happy,” the 28-year-old said.
“There will be some really experienced riders in front and behind me so if I get caught then I can follow and learn. But if no-one does come past then I will know I am on it!”
Guy Martin’s announcement that he would be giving this year’s event a miss to compete in a bicycle race provided the opportunity for a shake-up of the top 10 start order. Hickman’s elevation to Number 5 has had a knock-on effect that may prove even more significant.
No5 has been the regular starting slot of last year’s Superbike TT winner Bruce Anstey on the Valvoline Padgetts Honda but the veteran Kiwi will now move up to second which may raise eyebrows in 23-times TT winner John Mcguinness’ camp. He will be the first man down Bray Hill for the third year in a row, but his oldest adversary will be setting off just 10 seconds behind him.
The 46-year-old Kiwi has often struggled to get out of the blocks fast enough in the opening laps of the big bike races but the slightest sniff of Mcguinness’ fuel vapour could provide all the incentive he needs to chase down the Morecambe rider.
Another of the Mountain course’s 132-mph men, James Hillier, drops from two to three on the Quattro Plant Kawasaki and Hutchy’s elevation to No4 is a climb of five places after his treble win in last year’s Superstock and Supersport races.
Michael Dunlop quietly retains No6 as former BSB front-runner, Michael Rutter, returns to the top 10 starters at nine following his 131mph performance in last year’s Senior TT on the Penz13.com BMW. Rutter will start 20 seconds behind his replacement in the German team, Gary Johnson, who goes at seven with William Dunlop on the CD/IC Racing Yamaha at eight.
Conor Cummins retains his traditional No10 plate with the final eye opener being Cameron Donald’s appearance at 11. Donald has defected from the Norton camp to return to the Wilson Craig Hondas that he last rode to a runner-up spot in the 2013 Superbike TT. The Australian’s starting position sees him ahead of Dean Harrison ( Silicone Engineering Kawasaki), 2015 North West and Ulster Grand Prix winner, Lee Johnston at 13 on the Ecc/burdens BMW). The TT’S fastest ever Aussie, David Johnson, has replaced his countryman Donald in the Norton squad and will start at 15 behind Mar-train Yamaha’s Dan Kneen.
Tyco BMW’S latest recruit, threetime TT winner Ryan Farquhar, will start at 16.
‘If no-one comes past me then I will know I am on it!