Arguably the most anticipated race, at the 2016 Classic TT Races, is the newly introduced lightweight race, which sees a full grid of two stroke machinery competing around the Mountain Course.
The last 250 TT winner Bruce Anstey, will start amongst the pre race favourites.
Although it’s been a long, long time since Bruce last competed on a 250, we all know the natural ability that the Valvoline Racing by Padgetts Motorcycles rider has.
John McGuinness, the 250 TT lap record holder since 1999 with a lap speed of 118.29 mph, is hugely looking forward to getting back on a two stroke machine, around the TT course.
It’s still to be confirmed as to what bike John will be piloting, but one thing’s for sure he will be determined to be in contention for victory in the inaugural Lightweight Classic TT.
Reigning formula 2 Classic TT winner Ryan Kneen, is a definite dark horse for victory. More known perhaps for his superstock exploits, Ryan also has a deft touch on 250’s, as showcased by his 2015 F2 Classic TT success.
Laylaw Racing have a strong line up, which consists of ten times TT winner Ian Lougher and two times Junior Manx Grand Prix champion Michael Sweeney.
Both riders have the pace to push for podium finishes, as they bid to bring the team run by Gerry Lawler and two times TT winner Eddie Laycock.
In my opinion one of the undoubted firm pre race favourites for lightweight classic success is Dan Cooper, on the Turner Racing TZ250 Yamaha.
The reason I state this view is for me, Dan has the ideal height and build to be a prominent 250 exponent around the Mountain Course.
Having recently won a gripping super twins race at the Ulster Grand Prix, he goes into the Classic TT with an added confidence boost.
250 specialists Paul Owen, Davy Morgan, Chris Moore and Gary Vines are all potential podium finishers, as is Phil Harvey on his own teams RS 250 Honda.
Ulster GP lightweight race winner Neil Kernohan is more than capable of springing a surprise or two on the Logan Racing RS250 Honda, as is Dan Stewart competing under the MBR/Wilcock Consulting banner and the evergreen Ewan Hamilton.
Additional riders to watch out for include TT privateers champion and Classic TT debutant Dan Hegarty, Rob Hodson, Olie Linsdell, Shaun Anderson, Chris McGahan, Tom Snow, Anthony Redmond, David Hewson and France’s Timothee Monot.
The ace in the pack in the Lightweight Classic TT field, could be Dan Kneen on the John Chapman Racing RS 250 Honda.
Most recently Dan ended his 2016 international roads campaign with a high quality set of results, at the MCE Insurance Ulster Grand Prix.
Making his debut on 250 machinery, it’s going to be interesting to see how quickly he can gel with a bike which is so different to his usual Mar Train Racing YZF R1M and YZF R6 Yamaha mounts.
Riders entered in the FP2 class part of the race include Alistair Haworth, Nick Anderson, Bob Farrington and Nick Anderson.
Only one Mountain Course newcomer is entered in the four lap race, his name is Carl Salvage, who has for multiple years been aiming to compete on the most famous road racing circuit in the world.
Notable non starters include Michael Dunlop, William Dunlop and Lee Johnston who won’t be fit in time, having sustained a broken collarbone in an incident in the opening lightweight practice session, at the Ulster Grand Prix.
Photo by Louis Porter
It’s fair to say the newly introduced Lightweight Classic TT, has captured the imagination of the majority of the pure road racing fraternity.
So who will win this new prestigious race? Will it be one of the proven giants of pure road racing, will it be a rising star or could it be a surprise package.
We will all find out soon in what is in my opinion, set to provide one of the great spectacles of the 2016 Classic TT Races.
Words by Stevie Rial