Aussie David “Davo” Johnson has made history of the Isle of Man TT… and the racing hasn’t even started. | Road | Sport
In final qualifying for tonight’s opening race, the six-lap (380km) Superbike TT, Johnson emerged as the fastest ever rider of a British motorcycle with a lap average of 128.5mph.
He surpassed Cameron Donald’s best time of 124.6mph on the Norton at last year’s TT and took the title of “fastest rider of a British bike” off TT folk hero Guy Martin (126.8mph set last year on a Triumph Supersport racer).
Johnson took the Norton prototype V4 to a solid eighth place on Friday with a top speed of 194.5mph through the speed trap down Sulby Straight. It was the fastest top speed of the session.
His puts him 12th overall in all times taken over the week. He is on target for a strong top-10 finish in what is shaping up to be a record-breaking race.
Already Michael Dunlop and Ian Hutchinson have unofficially smashed John McGuinness’s lap record on their BMWs and a 133mph lap is in sight tonight.
Strangely, Hutchinson’s amazing lap of 132.8 132.803mph, 0.786s quicker than McGuinness’s record in last year’s Senior TT race, was set on his Superstock BMW.
His crew credited this machine’s superior electronics to those of his Superbike for this achievement.
Last year’s Superbike TT winner Kiwi Bruce Aynstey qualified in 12th place last night, hobbled by an ankle injury sustained in a practice crash. But he is eight fastest overall.
He will either race a Honda Fireblade or “customer-spec” MotoGP V4 replica RC213.
Aussie Cameron Donald finished 30th overall on his Honda, slowed by a week of problems. In one practice session his engine blew up at 240km/h.
It was a slow start to Johnson’s first effort on the Norton. A run of small technical issues limited his track time early in the week.
Then a few hours testing at Jurby airport revealed that the fairing had been flexing so much at speed that when he hit a bump it temporarily activated the kill switch.
A bit of trimming and he hit the track running with a first lap on Thursday night at a 127mph average, then slightly better on the second.
After a refuel and new tyre he hit 128.3 and finally was close to 129mph.
By now he had covered twice the distance of a MotoGP race, an indication of how much a challenge the TT is on rider and machinery.
Johnson reported that the 200bhp MotoGP-spec Aprilia V4 powered Norton was stable at speed and handling well.
He then upped the ante on Friday evening’s final practice, nudging a 130mph average lap speed until stopped by a mechanical problem.
He has two Nortons available and is happy that new electronics have finally tamed the bike that Cameron Donald helped developed but struggled with at last year’s TT.
The Superbike TT starts at 11am UK time (8pm EST Australia ) with 69 starters. Fans can view live timing and audio commentary on the internet via Manx Radio TT and the official TT website.
by Hamish Cooper