Dean Harrison got their Isle of Man TT campaign underway with a strong eighth place in the opening Superbike race.

The Bradford rider had been holding on to fifth in the early stages after posting a personal best of the Mountain Course at 129.198mph. Although he slipped back to ninth, he battled back to claim a top-eight finish.

The RC Express Racing rider signalled his intentions from the off as he swept through Glen Helen, the first timing point on the course, in fourth place on the opening lap. He was pushed back a position by the time he completed his first lap but the speed of 129.198mph was still his best ever and fifth place was a great start to the race.

However, the 25-year old was already experiencing a few handling issues after changes made on Friday evening had seen them go in the wrong direction, and with an oil leak also hindering his progress, it was a case of damage limitation for the reminder of the race.

By the time he pitted for the first time, at the end of lap two, he had been pushed back to eighth place, despite another 128mph plus lap and this had become ninth place by two thirds race distance. Still in ninth place going into the sixth and final lap, Dean dug deep and called upon all his Yorkshire grit and determination and with his second fastest lap of the race, 128.434mph, he pulled himself back up to eighth at the chequered flag.

Harrison said: “I can’t complain with eighth place too much as it proved to be quite an eventful race. The first lap was mint and I had a great run to Glen Helen to put myself right into contention but the changes we made after Friday evening’s practice session saw us go in the wrong direction and the bike was quite unstable over the bumps, especially the Ginger Hall to Ramsey section. I also started to experience an oil leak half way round the lap so after that, I just had to dig deep.

“To lap at 129.2mph from a standing start was very pleasing, given the few issues I was experiencing, but I had to slacken the pace due to the oil leak as my foot slipped off the peg a couple of times. It was very much a case of bringing the bike home for a good result and with an eighth place I did exactly that. It’s a good, solid start to the week and we’ve got plenty more opportunities this week.”

Team co-owner Ben Constable: “We’re very happy with our first result of race week and having taken 11th place in the same race last year, we’ve moved forward in terms of both the result and the lap speeds.

“Dean’s recorded his best ever lap of the Mountain Course from a standing start, which we’re all delighted about, and that proves that he’s got the speed to challenge. If it wasn’t for the oil leak, I’m sure Dean would have been able to maintain his top six challenge but eighth place is still a good start to the week.”

Harrison will be back in action tomorrow in the four-lap Superstock race, which is scheduled to get underway at 2pm.