It’s set to be a case of BMW vs Kawasaki with quite possibly a few Suzuki’s included, in the 2017 Royal London 360 Quantum Superstock TT, as the three manufacturing giants go head to head around the Mountain Course.
One of the firm pre race favourites has to be Ian Hutchinson, who is aiming to make it a hat trick of Superstock successes.
A recent second place finisher, in a close fought 2nd Superstock encounter at the North West 200, the Tyco BMW rider now using Dunlop rubber, looks in ominously impressive form, going into TT 2017.
Four times a winner in the class, which is extremely important to the manufacturers, it’s most definitely a case of strive for five over the next couple of weeks, for the Bingley based rider.
Although Hutchy will be extremely hard to beat, there’s roads giants a plenty more than capable of toppling him.
One of them is Silicone Engineering Racing’s Dean Harrison, who has gelled quickly with Kawasaki’s newest incarnation of the ZX10 range, the ZX-10RR.
Runner up in last year’s record breaking stocker race, he has the confidence plus talent and the team around him, to produce the goods.
A definite potential race winner; you can apply the same notion to his good friend, Lee Johnston.
With Honda not supplying one of their new Fireblade’s, Lee was forced to go down a different direction, albeit one he knew extremely well, East Coast Racing’s S1000RR BMW.
The reacquainted combination, his already this season proved successful, via strong results at the Spring Cup National Road Races at Oliver’s Mount, and impressive performances during the North West 200.
Could a first TT win arise in June? It would not surprise many if General Lee steps onto the top step of the rostrum for the first time.
Smiths Racing’s Peter Hickman, is in the same boat as his fellow S1000RR BMW mounted rider.
Twice a Macau GP winner, Hicky has every attribute needed to become a TT winner.
Tipped by many to challenge for race honours, the same can be said for JG Speedfit Kawasaki’s James Hillier and the very much on form, Michael Rutter (Bathams SMT Racing) who’s title sponsor Bathams celebrates this year it’s 140th anniversary.
Photo by Jim Gibson
Additional high profile riders piloting BMW and Kawasaki machinery includes, Dafabet Devitt Racing duo Ivan Lintin and Steve Mercer, Dan Kneen (Penz 13 BMW), David Johnson (Fleetwood Grab Services BMW), Martin Jessopp (Riders Motorcycles BMW), Horst Saiger, Dan Cooper, Radcliffe’s Racing’s Jamie Coward and McAdoo Kawasaki’s James Cowton.
Outside of the S1000RR’s and ZX10’s, could Suzuki’s newest GSX-R 1000 creation, surprise everyone, and take the class honours?
In Michael Dunlop (MD Racing) and Gary Johnson (Gary Johnson Racing), the marque has two of the established TT front runners, capable of bringing Suzuki, a first Superstock TT victory since 2008.
The big question mark around the GSX-R 1000, is whether the new steed will prove competitive enough, to battle for a spot on the podium.
We all know Michael and Gary’s talent, in my opinion though, it’s going to be a tough ask for either of the multiple TT winners to wrap up at least a podium finish.
Photo by Tommy Vennard
Reigning Irish road race Superbike champion Derek Sheils (Cookstown BE Racing), Joe Akroyd (Oilee Racing) and Dave Sellers (PRF Racing) add depth to the Suzuki challenge.
Yamaha’s entry is headed by William Dunlop, whilst Honda’s problematic newest version of the Fireblade, is set to be represented by Guy Martin, all star Padgetts duo Bruce Anstey/Conor Cummins and Top Gun Racing’s Dan Hegarty.
Photo by Rod Neill
2016 Senior Manx GP winner Tom Weeden competing under The Peoples Bike Team, also pilots Honda machinery, albeit slightly older spec.
Same applies to Jochem Van Den Hoek (DP Coldplaning/TC Racing), currently third in the IRRC Superbike standings, following competition at Hengelo.
Fellow independents to keep an eye on, include the consistent Dan Stewart (Wilcock Consulting BMW), Michael Sweeney (Martin Jones Racing), Sam West (PRL Racing), Andy Dudgeon, Alan Bonner, Matt Rees, Daley Mathison, Rob Hodson, Bimota’s Ben Wylie and Dominic Herbertson.
Photo by Nick Wheeler
Plus Italy’s Stefano Bonetti, Optimark Road Racing’s Julien Toniutti and Xavier Denis, Danny Tomlinson Racing’s Michael Booth, Mark Goodings and Michael Russell.
With the Superstock lap record, now standing at in excess of 133 mph, providing the weather is correct and everything falls into place, could a sub 17 lap by a Superstock machine, be on the horizon this year?
A whole host of determined, hungry international road racing giants, are capable of this unique feat in what is set to be a gripping four lap Royal London 360 Quantum Superstock TT.
Words by Stevie Rial