Disclaimer: The views expressed in my TT 2019 blog are mine and not those of the TT Supporters Club.

The annual shakedown for the TT, the North West 200, produced seven different winners, five of which are going to the TT. The three races on Thursday evening were held in dry and sunny conditions, the weather deteriorated on Saturday with racing delayed due to rain showers, the final Superbike race being abandoned.

The most impressive performance came from the rider of the meeting, James Hillier. He had three podium finishes starting with a third place in Thursday's Supersport race, won by Lee Johnston from Dean Harrison. Saturday produced very tricky conditions with the wet road, James came second in the first Superbike race, beating Manxman Connor Cummins into third, Glen Irwin winning the race. He was victorious in the Superstock race winning by over 3.7 seconds from Richard Cooper and Davey Todd.

Peter Hickman won the first Superstock race on Thursday evening from Irwin, Michael Dunlop, Hillier and Johnston. This was Hickman's and Dunlop's only podium finishes. The most inspired win came from TT stalwart Italian Stefano Bonetti in Thursday's Supertwin race, achieving his first international victory. Runner up was Jamie Coward with Michael Rutter third, Rutter also finished third in the second Supertwin race. The second Supersport race was won by Davey Todd, from Derek McGee and Connor Cummins.

John McGuinness struggled with reliability on his Superbike and Lightweight Nortons, Hutchy could only manage a best of 6th in Thursday Supersport race, the weather on Saturday put paid to his chances. Michael Dunlop only featured once on the podium but you cannot help but admire his strength of character having lost his father and brother to the sport.

Apart from James Hillier and Lee Johnston it was pretty muted meeting for the TT top dogs. there will be plenty of soul searching and burning of the midnight oil running up to practice week.

Derek McGee, Derek Shiels and Adam McLean had put impressive performances at the early season races at Cookstown and Tandragee. A nasty spill at Tandragee has put McLean out of the TT.

In the sidecars Peter Founds and Jevan Walmsley are currently leading the British F2 championship and showing good form. The Birchall brothers practiced at the last round but did not race, preferring to test instead. Alan Founds with Jake Louther in the chair, Dave Molyneaux and Harry Payne, Conrad Harrison and Andy Winkle have all performed well. Newcomers Callum and Ryan Crowe will be of special interest, sons of TT sidecar great Nicky Crowe. They have put in some very impressive performances this season and are sure to be ones to watch, without doubt their machine will be immaculately prepared.

Since 1988 the curtain raiser for the TT has been the The Pre TT Classic Races, held on the Billown circuit. This is an increasingly popular meeting featuring bikes and riders from yesteryear. Friday evening's practice will be led by the newcomer controlled laps before a full session for all riders and classes, culminating with the sidecar practice. On Saturday afternoon there will be another full practice session including two races, Bank Holiday Monday is then host to a full days racing to conclude the meeting.

Last year's road racing season was brilliant and tragic in equal measures. Few will forget Peter Hickman's heroics in winning last year's Senior TT and none of us will forget those who paid the ultimate price. Please spare a thought to the family and friends of Dan Kneen, Adam Lyon, James Cowton, William Dunlop, Fabrice Miguet and Alan 'Bud' Jackson.

Let's look forward to an exciting, fast and safe TT. To those perennial detractors I would ask they they consider the family and friends of injured riders before they look for their fifteen minutes of fame by making outlandish statements. Throughout the history of mankind human beings have taken risks and pushed the boundaries to the limit and beyond, without such pioneers we would not be living in the advanced society that we do today.

Mike Hammonds