2022 Isle of Man TT [3 June] | Hickman holds firm, Irwin close to rookie record

Peter Hickman ends Isle of Man TT practice week on top in three of four solo classes; Michael Dunlop hits form on Friday, Glenn Irwin close to rookie record

Peter Hickman - Gas Monkey FHO BMW M 1000 RR

Peter Hickman heads into race for the 2022 Isle of Man TT as the primary target for rivals as he concluded the sixth and final day of qualifying practice as the pacesetter in three of the four solo classes.

However, the headliner of the evening was his BSB rival Glenn Irwin, who surged up the order on the final evening to end his first week at the TT eighth quickest.

With Friday’s schedule shifted from the afternoon to the evening in order to avoid forecast rain, it meant ‘greener’ track conditions prevented many personal best gains across all classes.

As such, Hickman could rely on his benchmark from Thursday - a 133.220mph effort on the Gas Monkey BMW M 1000 RR - to remain quickest of all across the six days. Even so, he still got close to exceeding it with a Friday effort of 132.874mph, which alone was also comfortably quicker than his nearest opponent’s personal best of the entire week.

Hot favourite coming into the TT, lap record holder Hickman has methodically wound up his pace as the week has worn on, peaking with a rout of quick laps on Thursday across the four solo classes.

It means he heads into race week atop the classification in three of them - Superbike, Superstock and Supertwins - while he holds down fifth in Supersport. It means Hickman qualifies fastest for the equivalent of four races and is remains well in range of completing a record-breaking ‘Super Six’ wins should he have something left in the bag on his Triumph Supersport bike.

In Superbike, Dean Harrison continues to lead the chase in second place with a best of 132.333mph on the DAO Kawasaki ZX-10RR, while Davey Todd remains third despite ending what has been a breakthrough week of form in a cloud of smoke billowing from his blown Milenco by Padgetts Honda.

While the trio have locked out the top three positions all week, Michael Dunlop proved he remains a threat with a big step up in pace aboard the Hawk Suzuki on Thursday with a 131.440mph effort. 

Indeed, while Dunlop may have work to do in this particular class, he represents Hickman’s biggest rival for victory overall this week after comfortably topping the two-race Supersport class, while the two riders are barely separated on identical Paton machinery in the Supertwins class.

The 19-time TT winner also flexed his potential in Superstock on Friday evening by leading the way on the night, a feat he repeated in Supersport and Supertwins too.

Back in Superbike, Conor Cummins holds down fifth as the only other rider to exceed 130mph, closely followed by John McGuinness, who will nevertheless command significant attention on Saturday ahead of his landmark 100th TT start.

On Friday though it was Honda team-mate and TT newcomer Irwin hogging the spotlight as he posted a big gain with a 128.268mph. Fifth fastest on the night and eighth on the end-of-week classification, the lap - despite iffy conditions - makes him the third fastest-ever TT newcomer, behind Hickman (129.104mph - 2014) and Davey Todd (128.379mph - 2018).

OMG Racing’s James Hillier also increased his pace slightly to consolidate seventh as the best of the Yamaha contingent, with Jamie Coward (KTS Yamaha), Ian Hutchinson (Milwaukee BMW) and Philip Crowe (Handtrans Haulage/Nigel Appleyard BMW) completing the best ten laps of the week.

Supersport, Superstock, Supertwins

Dunlop remains favourite in the Supersport class after topping proceedings once more, albeit at a slightly slower pace than he achieved on Thursday. 

Having spent less time on his Triumph this week than his rivals, Hickman hinted at more to come with a sizeable jump in pace to be second on the night and fifth overall, behind Dean Harrison, Jamie Coward and Lee Johnston.

Meanwhile, Hickman remains quickest in the Superstock and Supertwins classes, but Dunlop again suggested his slow-burn of a week is hitting its stride at the right moment by proving quickest in both on Friday night aboard his MD Honda (SSTK) and Paton (STwins)

The 2022 Isle of Man TT race week kicks off on Saturday with the 6-lap at 12:00, plus the first of two Sidecar races this week.