The four lap Bennetts Lightweight TT should again be a highly entertaining affair at the Isle of Man TT Races fuelled by Monster Energy with the strongest entry the class has seen to date.
The top twenty seeds are packed with potential race winners but although the field could be described as wide open, two of the pre-race favourites will be the two riders who have won in the last three years – Michael Rutter and Ivan Lintin.
Lintin won the race in both 2015 and 2016 and the Dafabet Devitt Racing rider had hoped to complete his hat-trick twelve months ago on his Kawasaki before Rutter halted his run. The Midlands rider took his fifth TT win while riding the Paton SC-Project Reparto Corse machine lapping, like Lintin, at more than 120mph.
Both riders will be on the same machines in 2018 with Rutter starting at number three this year with Lintin twenty seconds further back at number five. The latter will be keen to get back on top after finishing out of the podium places in fourth in 2017.
Martin Jessopp is another rider who will be hoping to claim the top spot with the Riders Motorcycles rider having finished second and third in the last two years. One of only four riders to lap at more than 120mph on a Lightweight machine, he will start at number one and will be looking to claim his maiden TT win.
The top ten is packed with potential race winners - none more so than Michael Dunlop who lines up at number six on a second Paton. His success in the class has been limited but he did take seventh place last year and with Rutter winning on the Italian marque last year, the 15-time TT Race winner will be confident he can do the same.
IEG/KMR Kawasaki have a great chance of victory with Peter Hickman who will again start at number ten. The Burton upon Trent rider took third place in 2017. Gary Johnson will again start at number seven on the WK Moto and, following his fourth place in 2016 and lapping in excess of 117mph on the constantly improving Chinese machine, the Brigg rider will be another contender.
Other seeded top ten riders including Daniel Cooper who starts at number three on his KW Electrical/CMS Kawasaki, Stefano Bonetti (8) and Ian Lougher (9). Italian rider Bonetti will be hoping for better fortune this year after retiring from third place in 2017 while veteran Lougher can never be ruled out.
Just outside the top ten and starting at numbers 11 and 12 respectively are McAdoo Racing Kawasaki’s James Cowton, third in 2014, and last year’s best newcomer Adam McLean who will ride the Roy Hanna Motors-entered machine - both of whom are capable of podium finishes.
Former Manx Grand Prix winner Michael Sweeney starts at number 13 on the Kiely Heating Kawasaki machine and he’ll be followed down Glencrutchery Road in quick succession by the two other IEG/KMR Kawasaki riders, Danny Webb and Derek McGee.
Jamie Coward, Rob Hodson, Derek Sheils and last year’s Manx GP Lightweight race winner Darren Cooper complete the top twenty while other riders on the entry include Michael Evans, Barry Lee Evans, Barry Furber, TT Rider Liaison Officer John Barton, Craig Neve, Joey Thompson and Maria Costello, again the only female representative in the solo field.
Czech Republic rider Michal Dokoupil, Austrian Julian Trummer, France’s Timothee Monot and Xavier Denis and Japan’s Masayuki Yamanaka lead the overseas challenge in the race which saw almost 80 entries received.