Norton leads big bikes at Isle of Man TT
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The start order for the Superbike TT and Senior TT races puts the new Norton Racing SG6 of Australia's David Johnson as first bike away for the six-lap feature races, which open and close the TT race week.
TT organisers have shuffled the rider seedings this year, creating a new-look top-10 that makes a number of changes but keeps some riders in familiar starting positions. The TT is raced to a time-trial format with riders separated by 10-second starting intervals.
Moving Johnson to the top position means 23-time TT winner John McGuinness won't take the lead role he has held for the past three years. McGuinness is set to start fifth aboard Honda's new generation CBR1000RR Fireblade SP2, which is making its TT debut.
Another rare motorcycle is set to chase the Aprilia-engined Norton down Bray Hill on the opening lap with New Zealand veteran Bruce Anstey retaining the number two start position aboard the Honda RC213V that debuted at the TT last year. The Padgett's Honda team has had a year to develop the MotoGP replica machine since its first TT appearance last year.
English rider James Hillier, who had three podium finishes at last year's TT, will start at number three on the Speedfit Kawasaki ZX-10R while 14-time TT winner Ian Hutchinson will again start at number four on his Tyco BMW S1000RR.
With Michael Dunlop switching to Suzuki and the new Honda debuting, the Hutchinson and BMW combo is arguably the best-proven around the TT course.
Lap record holder and defending Superbike and Senior TT champion Dunlop on the new Bennetts Suzuki GSX-R1000RR retains the number six position looking to extend his career record of 13 TT victories.
Manxman Conor Cummins, who recently confirmed a ride with the Padgett's Honda team, moves up the order to start at number seven and Guy Martin returns to the Mountain Course after missing the 2016 TT and rides as McGuinness' Honda Racing teammate with number eight seeding.
Dean Harrison on the Silicone Engineering Kawasaki gets his first top-10 seeding at number nine and the tenth rider away is Peter Hickman on a Smith's BMW.
Veteran Michael Rutter (BMW), Gary Johnson (Suzuki), Lee Johnston (Honda), Manx rider Dan Kneen (BMW), who is returning from injury, and William Dunlop (bike to be confirmed) complete the top 15.
Practice for the Isle of Man TT opens with evening practice sessions scheduled to run daily from May 27-June 2.
Race week begins on Saturday, June 3 with the Superbike TT and Sidecar Race 1.
On Monday, June 5 the 600cc SuperSport Race 1 and 1000cc SuperStock races are scheduled and on Wednesday it's the second SuperSport race, the Lightweight TT for 650cc twin-cylinder machines and the TT-Zero electric bike race.
The second Sidecar race and the Senior TT are on the final day, Friday June 9.
Most of the leading riders are in action next week at Northern Ireland's North West 200 road race which runs May 9-13 on the fast 14.4km Triangle circuit that links the towns of Portstewart, Coleraine and Portrush.