The International Road Racing season got underway with Michael Rutter topping the time sheets for the Superbike category.
Rutter, who has a total of 13 wins at the Triangle circuit, nine of them on a Superbike, set the pace with an average lap speed of 121.106mph, narrowly beating British Supersport Champion Alastair Seeley, who set a top average speed of 120.383, with Guy Martin setting the third fastest time.
William Dunlop took provisional pole in the Supersport category, clocking in at 114.754 aboard the Tyco Suzuki, beating Rutter’s Triumph and Seeley’s Yamaha.
Keith Amor, Ryan Farquhar and Connor Behan set the fastest times in the Supertwins category, while Horst Saiger was the surprise name at the top of the Superstock category on his privately run Kawasaki. The pair of Bathams BMWs of Rutter and Stephen Thompson took second and third respectively.
There will be more practice sessions on Thursday morning to finalise the grids ahead of the first races, Supersport, Supertwin and Superstock, on Thursday evening before a full day’s racing on Saturday.
While the day was blessed with glorious weather, it ended on a bitter note with the Superstock practice being red flagged due to an incident at Primrose Corner. French rider Franck Petricola, 31, received lengthy treatment at the scene before being airlifted to Belfast’s Royal Victoria Hospital. His injuries are not believed to be life threatening.