SUPERTWIN PREVIEW: ALL TO PLAY FOR
Rule changes to the category have galvanised the Supertwin class and with a second race added to the schedule and an increasingly competitive entry, fans can look forward a two thrilling Carole Nash Supertwin Races at the 2023 Isle of Man TT Races.
Paton and Kawasaki machinery continue to hold the upper hand against the newer Yamaha and Aprilia bikes, but with three manufacturers represented on the podium last year and further technical tweaks to adjust the balance of performance, the gap is ever closing. For 2023 a number of winners have switched brand too, so calling a winner is no easy task for the ultra-competitive class.
One of those to change manufacturer for 2023 is last year’s victor Peter Hickman, who came out on top onboard his Paton after an extremely close battle with a similarly-mounted Michael Dunlop. Less than a second separated the duo at times and only a retirement from Dunlop prevented a grandstand finish.
Despite his victory and Paton having won every race since 2017, Hickman this year lines up on his own PHR Performance Yamaha R7 and is hoping for win number two in the class, but recognises top speed may be an issue with the new machine.
Dunlop, meanwhile, continues with Paton and having won in 2018 and 2019, and as holder of the outright lap record of 122.750mph, he’ll be aiming to make it a hat-trick of wins.
Michael Dunlop will be looking forward to his next win
The third and final previous winner on the entry list is the evergreen Michael Rutter. Victorious in 2017, the Bathams Racing rider also switches to the 700cc Yamaha in the class where he can arguably expect his best result at TT 2023. Rutter’s team-mate Craig Neve will also fancy his chances for a strong result, in the class that often sees standout performances from some of the TT’s rising stars and midfield runners.
Without a win since Ivan Lintin came out on top in 2016, Kawasaki are still the bike favoured by most of the field and it’s Jamie Coward on his KTS Racing powered by Steadplan machine that leads the charge for the Japanese manufacturer. Coward is the second fastest rider in the class and missed out on victory to Dunlop in 2019 by just over a second. He’ll be looking to make amends for a disappointing DNF in 2022.
Other leading Kawasaki contenders include Paul Jordan, third last year on the PreZ Racing Kawasaki, Rob Hodson (SMT Racing/KH Commercials) and Dominic Herbertson (John M Paterson/CC Engineering), all of whom are more than capable of finishing on the podium at least.
Paton also have three strong challengers from the continent, with the Italian pairing of Stefano Bonetti and Francesco Curinga lining up for Team ILR/Frog Vehicle Developments, and Pierre-Yves Bian continuing for VAS Engine Racing.
Bonetti already has three top-six finishes to his name whilst Curinga won last year’s Junior Manx Grand Prix. There’ll both be striving to become the first Italian winner since Giacomo Agostini won the 1972 Senior. Bian, meanwhile, was a revelation 12 months ago when he finished fourth in only his first TT.
Aprilia’s chances of victory have sadly been reduced with last year’s runner-up Lee Johnston absent due to injury, but they still have some solid TT competitors in their ranks including two seeded riders – Czech Republic’s Michal Dokoupil (Rocknet Racing) and Manxman Michael Evans (Rea Racing Dyno/ME Racing).
The two 3-lap Carole Nash Supertwin Races are scheduled to take place Tuesday 6th and Friday 9th June.