The Isle of Man was plagued by gale force winds, thunderstorms and heavy fog earlier this week, resulting in the cancellation of a number of scheduled practice sessions for the forthcoming TT road races. However,although Team DMRR Honda Racing's experienced campaigners Ian Lougher and Richard Britton have only managed to complete three of the six scheduled tests, their times have been increasingly positive.
The infamous Isle of Man TT is one of the most physically demanding events on the road racing calendar. The 37.75-mile public roads circuit snakes around Mount Snaefell and passes through the small villages of Crosby and Kirk Michael and the picturesque coastal town of Ramsey.
During 44 years of competition on the island, Honda Racing has claimed an impressive total of 122 victories. The Japanese manufacturer is committed to investing in top machinery to enable its talented Team DMRR Honda Racing road racers to continue adding to its tally of wins at this year's TT.
As a result of strong crosswinds on the mountain section of the course, Saturday's practice session was untimed. Although it was a disappointing start to the infamous two-week event, Lougher and Britton were able to re-familiarise themselves with the circuit, without the added pressure of timekeeping.
Lougher - who has contested the Isle of Man TT for more than 20 years - began Monday's practice on good form. The 38-year-old rider divided his time carefully between testing the Pirelli-shod Team DMRR Honda Racing CBR1000RR Fireblade and the CBR600RR Supersport machine. He finished the three-and-a-half-hour session with the eighth fastest time of 19:01.10 (119.033mph) in the Superbike class and the 16th fastest time of 19:44.77 (114.645mph) in the Supersport class.
His team-mate Britton also completed a positive first test aboard the Honda Racing-supported Fireblade, but it was on the race-winning Blackhorse Finance Ltd CBR1000RR Superstock machine that he achieved his most impressive time. The Enniskillen-based rider was the second fastest rider on the circuit. Britton also finished the Superbike session with the seventh fastest time of 18:52.90 (119.894mph).
During Tuesday evening's practice, County Down-based Lougher managed to improve his best time on the Team DMRR Honda Racing Fireblade by more than 40 seconds to 18:19.30 (123.559mph). He was the fourth fastest Superbike rider of the day. Lougher also improved his best time on the Team DMRR Honda Racing Supersport machine to post seventh at the end of the Supersport session.
Britton - who has been a regular TT campaigner since 1998 - also improved his performance on the Superstock and the Supersport machines during the second practice. He completed the mountain course in 18:39.36 (121.344mph) aboard the production-based Blackhorse Finance Ltd Fireblade - an improvement of more than 14 seconds on his previous best time. The 34-year-old rider also posted the fastest lap of 18:39.11 (121.371mph) on the Team DMRR Honda Racing CBR600RR.
Wednesday and Thursday's TT practice sessions were cancelled due to the prevailing weather conditions. The final test is expected to commence at 6.05pm this evening.
Ian Lougher: "I'm pleased with how the practice sessions have gone this week, even if we haven't had that much time out on the course! I'm confident that the amount of testing we have done so far on the Team Honda Racing CBR1000RR and CBR600RR machines is enough to secure a good result for the team.
"The victory at the North West 200 on the Blackhorse Finance Ltd CBR1000RR Fireblade is a good indication of what we can expect from the machine on the island. Overall, I'm feeling quite comfortable on all three machines at the moment, even without any further practice."
Richard Britton: "This week has gone really well - despite the unpredictable weather! The Team DMRR Honda Racing CBR1000RR and CBR600RR are performing well and my lap times on both machines have improved with each practice session. I'm also pleased with the Blackhorse Finance CBR1000RR Superstock machine - I'm confident of a positive result in Monday's race.
"Overall, I'm really happy with how everything is shaping up so far. The weather forecast for tonight doesn't look too bad, so hopefully we'll get some more practice in before the first race kicks off tomorrow."