The Ben­netts Clas­sic TT

Where else other than the Isle of Man would you find a top cur­rent British Su­per­bike con­tender, a lead­ing fe­male racer and an OAP all in top-six con­tention? In five years the Clas­sic TT has es­tab­lished it­self as the must-see event of its kind in the world

Classic Racer - - WHAT’S INSIDE - Words: John Wat­ter­son Pic­tures: Pe­ter Faragher

Our res­i­dent Is­land ex­pert John Wat­ter­son and snap­per leg­end Pe­ter Faragher were on hand, on site and on a roll as the Clas­sic TT hap­pened. Here’s their report into what has be­come a huge event (due in no small part to the ef­forts of our Malc Wheeler).

Leg­ends of the golden era, Jim Red­man and Stu­art Gra­ham mixed with top names from the 1970s, such as Alex Ge­orge, Bill Simp­son, Mick Grant and Steve Parrish, at this year’s edi­tion, right through to present day stars Michael Rut­ter, Bruce An­stey, James Hil­lier and John Mcguin­ness. With the lat­ter man still con­va­lesc­ing from his North West 200 smash, Aus­tralian Brookes was drafted in to pi­lot Roger and Pat Win­field’s 500cc Pa­ton in the open­ing race of the four-day fes­ti­val. He wasted no time get­ting to grips with the 1972 Ital­ian twin replica, top­ping qual­i­fy­ing with a lap of 109.5mph. By Glen He­len in the race he had pulled out al­most one se­cond per mile on the Davies Motorsport Honda of Wil­liam Dun­lop and the Beug­ger Rac­ing Pa­ton of Maria Costello. Al­ready two of the MVS had gone out. Dean Har­ri­son pulled up the Black Ea­gle Rac­ing ma­chine at Glen Vine and Ian Lougher was forced to stop when John Chap­man’s triple dropped a valve ap­proach­ing Greeba. Michael Rut­ter was the next top-10 ranked rider to go when he lost the front-end of the Ri­p­ley Land Match­less at Bal­lacraine. He was not in­jured in the fall, caused by a punc­ture. At Ram­sey, Brookes was 21 sec­onds clear of Ted Woof’s Manx Nor­ton in the ca­pa­ble hands of Jamie Coward. The lat­ter had leap-frogged Dun­lop and Costello who were still sep­a­rated by a frac­tion of a se­cond on cor­rected tim­ing. Fan­cied run­ner Alan Oversby had slipped down the or­der af­ter be­ing black-flagged at Sulby Bridge with a smok­ing Honda. He was al­lowed to con­tinue and cred­ited with the time es­ti­mated to have been lost. An open­ing lap of 111.30mph gave Brookes a quar­ter-dis­tance ad­van­tage of 33.2 sec­onds over Coward, while Costello was up to third ahead of Dun­lop af­ter a good run over the moun­tain. Bill Swal­low was fifth on the Gleve Rac­ing Pa­ton, only to re­ceive a 30-se­cond penalty for ex­ceed­ing the pit lane speed limit in a sched­uled fuel stop. Do­minic Her­bert­son and Oversby also pit­ted on

the two Davies Motorsport Hon­das. Michael Dun­lop, on the last sur­viv­ing MV of the three that started, pulled into the pits to re­tire. Pos­si­ble fuel is­sues were sus­pected to be the is­sue with the Kay En­gi­neer­ing ma­chines. Brookes ap­peared to lose time mid-lap on the se­cond cir­cuit and was 10mph slower through the Sulby speed trap than he had been on the opener, but he was still 34.16s ahead of Coward at the Hair­pin. Costello was 9.8s down in third, fol­lowed by Wil­liam Dun­lop at 4.9s, then a long gap to lead­ing pri­va­teer Michael Rus­sell on the Iz­zard Rac­ing Nor­ton. The top two both av­er­aged in ex­cess of 110mph for the lap, when Brookes had a con­firmed lead of 38.69s. Coward’s 110.054mph was the quick­est recorded by a sin­gle-cylin­der ma­chine round the course. The re­tire­ment list was grow­ing, and among those to go out be­fore half-dis­tance were Alec Whitwell, He­fyn Owen, Alex Sin­clair, in­au­gu­ral Se­nior Clas­sic TT win­ner Olie Lins­dell and Bruno Leroy. The mar­gin be­tween the top two re­mained fairly con­stant, but Dun­lop had moved well ahead of Costello, who had pit­ted for fuel at half-dis­tance. Brookes knew he needed to press on as he also re­quired a fuel stop. He’d ex­tended his lead to al­most 47 sec­onds at the Bun­ga­low. As it hap­pened, he needed all that and more as things didn’t go quite to plan in the pits as he had to have two goes at restart­ing the Pa­ton. The stop cost him an es­ti­mated 53.6 sec­onds and at Glen He­len on the fi­nal lap a mere two tenths of a se­cond sep­a­rated the two front men, in the Aussie’s favour. Brookes had clearly got the bit be­tween his teeth on the fast run through the cen­tral val­ley and con­tin­ued to ham­mer it up the western coast­line to Bal­laugh where he had re­opened a four-se­cond buf­fer over the York­shire­man. Round­ing Stella Maris the lead had gone up to 14.3s and Brookes ap­peared to be back in con­trol. But Coward was try­ing re­ally hard on his non stop run aboard the two-valve Nor­ton. He was more than 1m 20s clear of Dun­lop in third. Costello was sit­ting pretty in fourth, 14.4s down on Wil­liam at the Bun­ga­low, whose splash-and-dash with the Honda at the end of lap three cost him less than 40s. The win­ning mar­gin for Brookes was back up to 34 sec­onds, all re­claimed on that fi­nal lap. “I knew that I had a 36-se­cond lead when I pit­ted and was aware that I would lose most of that in the pits, but we muffed up the stop a bit and knew that I would have to

go for it on the fi­nal cir­cuit. “I had been care­ful not to over-rev the bike in the early laps to save it, but when I got my se­cond board on that fi­nal lap show­ing P1 +0, I then had to let it rev,” said the pop­u­lar Aus­tralian af­ter his maiden win on the Moun­tain Course. “There was noth­ing to lose then so I gave it ev­ery­thing. I ar­rived at the traf­fic the best way I could have done. I man­aged to pass a guy on Sulby Straight just be­fore we got a sta­tion­ary yel­low, so that was for­tu­itous. “It’s quite spe­cial to win this. It’s not a full TT, but it’s a good field and ev­ery­one is rid­ing the bikes as hard as they can be rid­den. “Con­di­tions were quite good, a few damp patches here and there, but it’s not such an is­sue with these bikes as they tend to roll over them. “It’s a great hon­our to stand-in for John [Mcguin­ness] and win this for the team.” Coward an­nounced that the Nor­ton be­gan to mis­fire on the fi­nal lap and feared that he may have been forced to stop, but it kept go­ing and he praised Ted Woof and the boys for putting a great bike un­der­neath him. As he spoke, in the win­ners’ en­clo­sure, the tank was re­moved from the Manx as it had de­vel­oped a slight split. His lap three of 20min 34.163 sec­onds was 3/100ths quicker than his lap two per­for­mance, to raise the bar for a sin­gle to 110.057mph. “I re­alised I was never go­ing to win against Josh on the Pa­ton, so it was a case of head down and arse up,” he smiled. Dun­lop and Costello’s scrap for third went to the for­mer by a mar­gin of 12 sec­onds, al­beit 1min 28sec down on Coward. “Maria passed me like a rocket at Crosby on the first lap, so I sat be­hind her for a while,”said Wil­liam. “I man­aged to get back ahead of her at some stage, but I didn’t have an of­fi­cial board out there so I wasn’t too sure where I was. “I did get one ap­proach­ing Sulby Bridge. I wasn’t to­tally sure whether to trust it, so I kept push­ing. Other than hit­ting a few neu­trals, the bike ran fault­lessly.” Costello was also happy: “Of course I would have liked an­other podium but we’ve com­peted at the sharp-end against in­cred­i­ble names in the sport and we were in con­tention, I’m more than de­lighted to fin­ish fourth in that com­pany,” she said. Do­minic Her­bert­son rode a solid race to fin­ish fifth on the se­cond Davies Motorsport Honda, although his fa­ther Mark’s race ended with re­tire­ment on the fi­nal lap when placed 11th on the Manx Nor­ton. Bill Swal­low sal­vaged sixth on the Gleve Pa­ton, the 30-se­cond pit lane penalty hav­ing not af­fected the 67-year-old’s fin­ish­ing po­si­tion. James Cow­ton, who had been ahead of Bill with one lap re­main­ing, suf­fered a late re­tire­ment with a ground-down and ul­ti­mately snapped footrest bolt. It was par­tic­u­larly dis­ap­point­ing for oc­to­ge­nar­ian Dave Ke­nah, who had trav­elled from New Zealand with his Manx Nor­ton to con­test the race. RAF man Michael Rus­sell was sev­enth on the Iz­zard Rac­ing Nor­ton, first of the pri­va­teers. “It’s great to just fin­ish,” he said. “We had an­other en­gine flown in from Andy Mol­nar. “I caught James Cow­ton on the first lap, but he came past me again on the Moun­tain on lap two with Horst Saiger.” The top-12 was rounded off by James Hil­lier (Honda), Horst Saiger (Egli Vincent), Chris Swal­low (BSA), Bob Owen (See­ley) and Steve Fer­gu­son (Honda), the last of the 100mph av­er­ages. Chris Swal­low’s fi­nal lap of 101.753mph re­placed Philip Mcgurk’s 2016 stan­dard as the

fastest by a Gold Star – in­deed the New Zealand-domi­ciled York­shire ace be­came the first Goldie rider to av­er­age 100mph for an en­tire race over the Moun­tain with his Wood­er­son sin­gle. Best new­comer was Will Loder in 17th spot on his See­ley.

(Main pic­ture) Bruce An­stey guns Clive Pad­gett’s EX-GPYZR500-4 through Guthrie’s on his way to the fastest Clas­sic TT lap in his­tory, an av­er­age speed of 127.496mph, dur­ing the four-lap Su­per­bike race. (In­set) Wil­liam Dun­lop squirts the Davies...

Aus­tralian Josh Brookes gets both wheels of the Win­field Pa­ton off the ground as he pow­ers over the rail­way bridge at Union Mills on his way to vic­tory in the Se­nior Clas­sic TT, his first win on the Moun­tain Course.

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