The 2015 Motorsport Merchandise Formula 1 Classic TT Race is set to be one of the most anticipated at this year's festival and with some of the sport's finest riders confirmed, the four laps around the Mountain Course will be closely fought.
With Bruce Anstey having blazed a trail in the corresponding race 12 months ago, lapping at close to 124mph, that's the benchmark for the rest of the field this time around. The Flying Kiwi will once again be on board the Valvoline Racing by Padgetts Motorcycles YZR500 Yamaha and with this year's RST Superbike TT Race winner having stated there's more to come from the Grand Prix machine, he will be the man to beat.
Many of the field have elected for the 750cc ZXR Kawasaki with James Hillier (Greenall Racing), Dean Harrison and Ivan Lintin (Steelcote Solutions Ltd), Peter Hickman and Jamie Coward (Mistral Racing) and Russ Mountford (Silicone Engineering Racing) the pick of the bunch. Harrison and Coward both missed last year's race due to injury so will be keen to make amends while Hickman and Lintin will be making their first appearance in the race.
All have the potential to rack up 120mph+ laps and stand on the podium with Hillier and Mountford, who raced a Suzuki last year, looking to improve on their second and third places respectively in last year's meeting.
Suzuki and Yamaha have strong representation though with both having potential race winners, notably with the Team Classic Suzuki line up of Michael Dunlop and Lee Johnston. Dunlop took the inaugural F1 race in 2013 and will be looking to atone for last year's retirement with Johnston, a podium finisher at this year's TT, showing his ability on a classic bike last year with a 121mph lap.
Team York Suzuki are fielding a strong line up in the shape of leading British Championship riders David Johnson and Martin Jessopp, both of whom enjoyed excellent TT meetings. Australian rider Johnson has the honour of leading the field away at number one, closely followed by Hillier and Dunlop.
Team Winfield will operate a two-pronged attack with Ryan Farquhar and Gary Johnson on their 1100 Harris Yamaha's and the pairing will certainly be pushing hard at the head of the field. The third leading Yamaha is the second Valvoline Racing machine of Dan Kneen who is sure to feature prominently on the Padgetts 750cc OW01 Yamaha while Olie Linsdell is also Yamaha mounted with an FZ750 Yamaha for Steve Bond/Flitwick Motorcycles.
Kawasaki is again the choice for many leading privateers and in an entry that's reminiscent of the Superbike TT, other riders worth keeping an eye on include this year's Privateer's TT Trophy winner Dan Cooper (Team Collins & Russell), Dan Stewart (Wilcock Consulting), John Barton (Wemoto.com), Mark Miller (Mistral Racing), Horst Saiger (Greenall Racing) and Allan Jon Venter (Top Gun Racing).
The iconic RC30 Honda is also well represented with veteran David Madsen-Mygdal (RJP Racing), Frenchman Timothee Monot (TMR/Performances Moto), Kiaran Hankin (KH Hire) and former Senior Manx Grand Prix winner, Michael Russell, on the Canadian Bragg Creek Powersports machine.
Michael Rutter and William Dunlop, two of the TT's star performers in recent years, will be riding two of the most intriguing machines in the field. Rutter will be riding a Ducati machine almost identical to the one that his Dad Tony rode in the early 1980s while Dunlop is on board one of the National Motorcycle Museum's 588cc Norton's.
There's plenty of variety throughout the field with Mick Godfrey (888 Ducati), Ben Wylie (750cc Bimota), Nick Jefferies, Paul Shoesmith and the returning Ian Armstrong (all 750cc Suzuki) adding further strength in depth.
With further riders on the grid including Davy Morgan, Paul Owen, Tim Poole and Jim Hodson, there's no doubt the 2015 Motorsport Merchandise Formula One Classic TT has the potential to be the best race in the event's three year history.