Tobermore’s Adam McLean certainly made his mark as a newcomer at the Isle of Man TT as he became the fifth fastest ever debutant to lap the Mountain Course on a Supersport machine.
The 21-year-old clocked his best lap of 120.644mph in the sole Supersport race as McLean impressed on his TT bow on the MSS Kawasaki.
It was all the more impressive given the limited amount of practice time this year due to poor weather on the island, while McLean was also denied the chance to improve on his time after the second Supersport race was cancelled as the weather continued to put the organisers under pressure to run the full schedule.
Steve Plater, who won the Senior TT in 2009, posted the fastest 600 lap by a newcomer in 2007 with Keith Amor, Mullingar’s Derek McGee and American Jimmy Moore the only riders to lap faster than McLean first time out on a Supersport bike.
He finished 18th in the race on the ZX-6R behind Horst Saiger to earn a silver replica and McLean says he accomplished the personal targets he had set himself prior to the event.
“I was over the moon to do that speed but the problem was that I needed the laps to be able to try and improve on that. Getting to 120mph wasn’t too bad, but trying to push on past that was the problem with the lack of track time,” he said.
“That was the goal I set myself for the fortnight and people were asking me what speed I wanted to do, but I never told anyone because if I’d said 120mph they have looked at me twice.
“To do it before the race was fantastic and I managed it on the third practice day, which would have been the Saturday. I did 120.5mph from a standing start and I think that was about the seventh or eighth lap I did that day, so I was feeling pretty fatigued.
“It had been a long day and I actually thought the lap would have been around 118mph, but they told me it was 120.5mph and I was surprised because it didn’t feel all that fast,” he added.
“In the actual race there was a headwind up the Mountain and my bike wouldn’t pull sixth gear. There were a few places too where it was damp and you were going through Hillberry a gear lower, so there were some places where you were just that bit more reserved.
“If conditions had been better, then I’m sure I’d have gone another mile-an-hour on top of it, but I set my fastest lap overall in the race at 120.644mph.”
McLean felt his 115mph lap on the Hanna Kawasaki Supertwin was equally credible. The Co Londonderry rider had been on course for a fantastic top ten finish in the Lightweight race until he was ruled out with an issue.
“My standing start lap was probably a better lap overall on the 600 but the conditions in the race just meant we lost out a bit,” he said.
“I was actually shocked to lap at 115mph on the Supertwin because I would nearly count that as just as credible as a 120mph lap on the 600. We were up to ninth in the race and then it broke down on me, which was disappointing or I could’ve had a top ten.
“I really enjoyed the experience but it is an eye-opener over there – the speed of the place and how unforgiving it is. Some of the scenes you come across when there’s been an accident takes the wind out of your sails a bit but you just have to try and put it out of your head and keep going.
“It’s a big weight lifted off my shoulders because everything was building towards the TT. You were always wondering if you had done enough preparation beforehand and put in enough effort,” he added.
“It was the unknown really and you were trying to answer questions in your head that you couldn’t answer until you got there. To get the first year done is a relief and now I know what it takes for when I go back again.”
McLean’s next outing will be at the Cock ’o the North meeting this weekend at Oliver’s Mount, Scarborough, before he returns once more to the Isle of Man for the Southern 100 next month.
He will also compete at Armoy at the end of July prior to the Ulster Grand Prix, and then it’s back to the island again for the Classic TT in August.
The young prospect will round off his season at the Scarborough Gold Cup meeting at Oliver’s Mount in September.