PRE-TT Classic

Mike Hose be­came the most suc­cess­ful rider in the 30-year his­tory of the PRE-TT Classic with a brace of wins in this year’s sun-kissed event on the out­skirts of Castle­town.

Classic Racer - - WHAT’SINSIDE - Words: John Wat­ter­son Pho­to­graphs: Peter Faragher & Mark Fal­coner

The ex­cel­lent John Wat­ter­son takes us through the ins and outs of what hap­pened at the PRE-TT 2018.

He edged one win clear of Bill Swal­low when he took the open­ing Sin­gles event on the Satur­day, be­fore ce­ment­ing his place firmly in Bil­lown Course his­tory the fol­low­ing day with an 18th vic­tory. That came in the Light­weight 250cc event, in it­self a new record as it raised Hose onto six wins in the class, all on the same Ariel Ar­row, one ahead of close ri­val Ewan Hamil­ton and Bob Jack­son. Hose ar­rived in the Isle of Man armed with a battery of six dif­fer­ent ma­chines for an all­out as­sault on the an­nual cur­tain raiser to the TT Fes­ti­val. First time astride Ian Gar­butt’s AJS 7R he wasted lit­tle time get­ting to grips with the bike in the sin­gles race, an event he had pre­vi­ously won on three oc­ca­sions over a pe­riod of 15 years on a two-stroke Bul­taco TSS. 2017 winner Rich Hawkins got off to a flier on his Du­cati, but Hose was ahead half­way round the first lap – and there he stayed. At half-dis­tance he had a 1.5 sec­ond ad­van­tage over Mark Her­bert­son on Alan Her­mis­ton’s sim­i­lar 350cc AJS. In the fi­nal cou­ple of laps he man­aged to eke out that lead to a win­ning mar­gin of 3.954 sec­onds. Hawkins took third, 17.5s be­hind

Her­bert­son, with three other See­ley 7Rs – in the hands of Keith Dixon, Dave Ma­travers and Meredydd Owen – com­plet­ing the top six in front of the lead­ing 250 of Keith Shan­non. “It’s the first time I’ve rid­den the bike, but I took an early ad­van­tage as I was a bit more con­fi­dent get­ting round the oil spillage at Ballawhet­stone on the open­ing lap,” ex­plained Hose. Her­bert­son agreed: “The oil was a bit dis­con­cert­ing and I de­cided that safety was bet­ter than fall­ing off. He had the edge on me and got away, so I just kept go­ing.” Hawkins said that he had given the Du­cati a load of revs off the start and was happy with what was at least his sev­enth podium at the PRE-TT Classic. Shan­non had also led the 250cc race through­out on his Cot­ton Tel­star. He’d built up a seven-sec­ond lead over Will Loder’s Greeves Sil­ver­stone by half­way, a mar­gin ex­tended to 17 sec­onds at the close when he claimed his third 250cc sin­gles win in suc­ces­sion. Loder had started from the sixth row of the grid after what he de­scribed as a night­mare in prac­tice. “It was a bit of a tall or­der, I had to straighten my bike after some­one ran into the back of me on red flags.” Bob Millinship of Han­bury was third, hav­ing en­coun­tered a prob­lem with his Caf­frey

Du­cati. “No hero­ics, I just kept it steady,” he said. Ewan Hamil­ton gave Hose a harder time in the Light­weight 250cc race the fol­low­ing af­ter­noon. De­spite mak­ing a bet­ter start, Hose had been de­moted to sec­ond place by Hamil­ton at the end of the open­ing 4.24-mile circuit. He then went up the in­side of the Scot sec­ond time round Cross Four Ways cor­ner, only to again lose out on the long drag back into Castle­town past Great Meadow. At half-dis­tance there was only 0.158 of a sec­ond be­tween the pair, with Hamil­ton again to the fore on the Suzuki. Jeff Ward was also well in the mix on his sim­i­lar mount. Very lit­tle cov­ered the three ma­chines as they pow­ered down the start and fin­ish straight line astern. Then, all of a sud­den, Hose had a 1.36-sec­ond ad­van­tage on Pete and Sue Coogan’s Ar­row. The lead was up to 4.2 sec­onds after five laps and dou­bled again to 9.6s at the com­ple­tion of the sixth and fi­nal circuit.

“I couldn’t get clear of Ewan to be­gin with. He blocked me well on the tight turns, he was rid­ing fairly but I knew that I had to get rid and make a break for it so I upped the pace late on.” Hamil­ton re­vealed gear prob­lems with his Suzuki, but praised his ri­val for rid­ing a tremen­dous race. “It was my first time back after a cou­ple of years and I was a bit rusty early on, I didn’t qual­ify well.” Ward was an­noyed with him­self for over­shoot­ing Bal­labeg Hair­pin on the brakes, los­ing time. He was four sec­onds down on Hamil­ton at the close and 21.3s up on Brian Ma­teer, whose fel­low Ul­ster­man, Barry David­son, was fifth. Dominic Her­bert­son also scored a PRE-TT dou­ble, but he so eas­ily could have walked away with a hat-trick of wins on the Davies Motorsport ma­chines. The Hex­ham man won both the 350cc and 500cc races, but quite lit­er­ally threw away a third when he came off the 500 Honda-4 ex­it­ing Cross Four Ways on lap two of the 850cc event. Her­bert­son’s maiden win on the tree and wall-lined pub­lic road course came in the Se­nior after a great race with Alan Oversby on a sis­ter bike. Steve Fer­gu­son grabbed the start on his Green­hall Rac­ing Honda, but was soon rel­e­gated to third by the two Davies’ team rid­ers. Oversby, by far the most ex­pe­ri­enced of the pair on the course, held the lead un­til lap three when he and Her­bert­son swapped places at the front, but there was rarely more than halfa-sec­ond be­tween them ei­ther way. At three-quar­ter dis­tance in an ex­cit­ing eight-lap con­test the lead was 0.194 of a sec­ond in Her­bert­son’s favour. Oversby grabbed the reins back on lap seven and the pair were side-by-side pow­er­ing down the by­pass for the penul­ti­mate time. At the che­quered cloth, Her­bert­son took the ver­dict by 0.251 sec­ond to reg­is­ter his first PRE-TT Classic win. “That was un­real,” he ex­claimed. “Alan dished out a les­son or two, I have a lot more to learn yet. “He showed me his front wheel at Sta­dium cor­ner on the last lap and I thought that he had me, but he was duffed-up by back­mark­ers and I nipped past him on the sprint to the line. “The fans like to see good races, so I hoped they en­joyed that,” said BoltonLe-sands man Oversby. “I had him, but I se­lected the wrong gear com­ing out of Castle­town Cor­ner and couldn’t get go­ing, so he slip­streamed past.” Mike Hose fin­ished third on the Ri­p­ley Land G50 at a 40-sec­ond mar­gin. “It was a lonely ride, but I got the bike back in one piece so I’m well happy,” said the More­ton man. Best of the course new­com­ers was An­thony Ni­cholls of Dhoon on the Petty Somer­field Nor­ton. Win num­ber two for Dom Her­bert­son came later the same day after an­other close con­test with team-mate Oversby in the 350cc Ju­nior. But the sting was taken out of this event when it was red-flagged twice, the first time

for a lap-one crash at Cross-four-ways, then some while later in the restart when the race was hit by a sharp shower of rain. Oversby had led the ini­tial start, while Barry David­son got the jump at the sec­ond at­tempt. He was less than one tenth of a sec­ond down on Fer­gu­son at the end of the open­ing lap with the lead four rid­ers cov­ered by a frac­tion of a sec­ond. Fer­gu­son held on for two more laps un­til Her­bert­son leap-frogged into the lead. With four laps com­pleted he was 1.398 of a sec­ond up on Oversby, with Fer­gu­son 0.08 of a sec­ond astern in third. Rain fell on some ar­eas of the course next time round, lead­ing to con­fu­sion with heav­ily waved flags and ul­ti­mately a red flag as the con­di­tions rapidly de­te­ri­o­rated.

The re­sult was de­clared on the po­si­tions after four laps. ”It was the right call,” said Her­bert­son, but Oversby was dis­ap­pointed as he was just get­ting his hand in, although ad­mit­ting he’d had a mon­ster slide at Castle­town Cor­ner. Ninety min­utes ear­lier, Fer­gu­son had won a race of at­tri­tion in the 850cc event. Ivan Lintin, on John Chap­man’s MV, and pole-set­ter Oversby both suf­fered tech­ni­cal prob­lems on the warm-up lap and failed to make the start. Dom Her­bert­son was run­ning away with it after the open­ing circuit with a 4.3-sec­ond ad­van­tage. But he tipped in too early at Cross Four Ways sec­ond time round and hit what he de­scribed as ‘rub­bish’ at the side of the road to end up on the seat of his leathers. With Hose re­tir­ing on the same lap it left Fer­gu­son with a huge ad­van­tage of 19.8 sec­onds after four of the eight laps. At the fin­ish, the Pren­ton man was 26.5s to the good on the Green­hall Rac­ing Honda-4, with Welsh vet­eran Bob Owen a pop­u­lar sec­ond on the See­ley G50. The lat­ter had come un­der se­vere pres­sure from the Paton of Dave Ma­travers, who was only one third of a sec­ond in ar­rears at the close. “That’s a real re­sult on the spare en­gine,” beamed Fer­gu­son. “We lost the No.1 mo­tor ear­lier and the Green­hall boys worked hard to put the spare in.” Owen was un­aware that he had fin­ished on the podium un­til he was guided into the win­ners’ en­clo­sure. “I looked back at Bal­labeg and saw Ma­travers com­ing, so I had to get go­ing.” It was a great re­sult for Taun­ton man Ma­travers in only his sec­ond year at the PRE-TT event. For­mer World GP side­car driver, Wolf­gang Stropek, fin­ished 11th and best new­comer in his course de­but on a See­ley Match­less G50. James Cow­ton won the Ge­off Duke Ju­nior Su­per­bike race for an un­prece­dented fifth year in suc­ces­sion. Astride what was a new bike to him, Dave Binch’s 1992 Yamaha 250, pre­pared with the as­sis­tance of his reg­u­lar turner Peter Ber­wick, the Driffield rider won by a sub­stan­tial mar­gin of 22.552 sec­onds from Ryan Kneen. There was dis­ap­point­ment for ex-gp reg­u­lar Bernard Fau right at the start when his Cha­banol TZ250 re­fused to fire up and he was left pad­dling on the by­pass in what was his

de­but ap­pear­ance at Bil­lown. There were no such is­sues for Cow­ton, Kneen and top side­car TT pas­sen­ger Dan Sayle who led the way at the first com­men­tary point, Cross Four Ways, 2.5 miles into the race. Cow­ton had a five-sec­ond lead at the com­ple­tion of the first circuit, and he con­tin­ued to pull out a sec­ond-per-mile next time round when he was a mere 0.065 of a sec­ond short of his own lap record set in 2014. It was as close as Cow­ton got to the record as the Yamaha’s clutch be­gan to slip. He later ex­plained that a new clutch had been fit­ted prior to the start and it had been trou­ble­some from the start. “I burnt the clutch off the line so had to keep feed­ing more ad­just­ment each lap.” While his lead con­tin­ued to grow, he was per­haps for­tu­nate that his clos­est two ri­vals were also ex­pe­ri­enc­ing is­sues. Sayle had prob­lems with the brakes on his 1994 RS250 Honda. He was also mak­ing ad­just­ments at the lever end as he went round: “I kept wind­ing the lever out, but the more I tried the worse it got. I couldn’t stop the bike in the end.” He lost sec­ond place to fel­low lo­cal Kneen as early as lap two, but man­aged to hold off Colch­ester’s Gary Vines to hold onto the fi­nal podium place. Kneen – who suf­fered a se­vere leg break in a beach-cross event in 2017 – ad­mit­ted that he had feared he would never race a bike again, and had found Rob Brew’s TZ250 quite cramped. He had not en­joyed a good start as he had been passed by a few up the in­side into the first bend. De­spite all the is­sues, Cow­ton’s race time was a full 10 sec­onds in­side the race record of four years. Eddy Wright and Kieran Clarke scored a hat­trick of side­car wins, in­clud­ing the open fi­nal. Rid­ing a thun­der­ous 1070cc Moore­speed Win­dle BMW, the Tad­caster pair were pushed hard by Welsh­men Keith Walters and Alun Thomas (1000cc Win­dle Honda), un­til the lat­ter pair’s luck ran out with a spin at the fi­nal cor­ner. The open­ing heat, one day ear­lier, had seen Wright and Clarke lead all the way in the four-lap­per to win by 2.5 sec­onds at the che­quered cloth. Thirsk vet­eran Tony Thirkell crossed the line third with Trevor John­son on an­other big-bore BMW, the driver later claim­ing that it was a good way to spend his pen­sion. In sim­i­lar con­di­tions, Wright and Clarke also led the sec­ond heat from start to fin­ish, stretch­ing out a 14-sec­ond lead thanks partly to a record lap on the third circuit. They needed all of that ad­van­tage as they were later slapped with a 10-sec­ond penalty for a flag in­fringe­ment, so the win­ning mar­gin was a less con­vinc­ing 4.7 sec­onds from Walters and Thomas. Thirkell and John­son com­pleted a re­peat 1-2-3, en­joy­ing a great bat­tle for the run­ner-up spot un­til their BMW blew an oil pipe at the last cor­ner. They had to push and shove the last few yards to the line. Weather con­di­tions were most cer­tainly less-pre­dictable four hours later when a near­full grid came to the line for the fi­nal – mi­nus the un­for­tu­nate Thirkell and John­son. Wright and Clarke again en­joyed a fast get­away, but Walters/thomas were 0.108 of a sec­ond ahead at the end of the first lap. With rain be­ing de­posited on parts of the

course, Wright/clarke had grabbed the lead back on lap two by eight tenths of a sec­ond. Walters and Thomas re­fused to let go and snatched the lead back at Cross Four Ways on the fi­nal circuit, only to lose it on the brakes into the last cor­ner with a spin on the sat­u­rated roads. “It was very slip­pery in the clos­ing stages,” said winner Wright. “Keith’s good in the wet, a great driver, but he got caught out this time.” The meet­ing con­firmed Wright and Clarke as the most suc­cess­ful driver and pas­sen­ger in the his­tory of the PRE-TT Classic. Up­ping­ham’s Andy Nour­ish and Dutch­man Michiel Leeflang brought their 900cc Nour­ish Wes­lake into third spot after fifth and 16th places in the heats. They ob­vi­ously en­joyed the wet con­di­tions. Lo­cal rider Mikey Evans, who scored a rare Se­nior/ju­nior Manx Grand Prix dou­ble last year, took the hon­ours in a se­verely short­ened Su­per­bike event. Rid­ing Graham Wil­cock’s ZXR750 Kawasaki, his task was made eas­ier when Ivan Lintin re­tired after the warm-up lap with throt­tle is­sues on his Chap­man Rac­ing RC30. Jamie Coward was an early threat, but he pulled up after a sin­gle lap to leave Evans with a 9.5 sec­ond ad­van­tage over Peter Boast’s OWO1 Yamaha with two laps down. The lead was out to 13.8s after three laps and even more at half-dis­tance when the race was red-flagged be­cause of the de­te­ri­o­rat­ing con­di­tions.

The re­sult was de­clared on the or­der after three laps when Mike Hose was third on his 750 Kawasaki, eight tenths down on slick-shod Boast, but in turn a mere tenth of a sec­ond in front of Den­nis Booth on the 1100cc Suzuki. Evans’s fel­low Manx­man, Dar­ran Creer, won the sup­port race at an ab­so­lute can­ter on a sim­i­lar 750 Kawasaki. He es­tab­lished a lap record for the race at 90.755mph on the fi­nal lap.

Above: The 350cc Sin­gles podium fea­tur­ing Mike Hose (cen­tre), with daugh­ter Vic­to­ria, run­ner-up Mark Her­bert­son (No.79) and third­placed Rich Hawkins (far right)

James Cow­ton rounds Iron Gate on his way to record­ing a fifth suc­ces­sive win in the Ju­nior Su­per­bike Post-classic race. The Driffield rider suf­fered fa­tal in­juries in a crash dur­ing the fi­nal day of rac­ing in the South­ern 100 on the same course in July.

Jeff Ward takes the long left-han­der at Wil­liams’s on his 250 Suzuki. He was third in the Light­weight race.

Davies Motorsport team-mates Dominic Her­bert­son and Alan Oversby were vir­tu­ally in­sep­a­ra­ble through­out the meet­ing.

Dom Her­bert­son sits in Alan Oversby’s slip­stream through the fast left-han­der known as Wil­liams, half­way round the 4.25-mile pub­lic roads course in the south of the Isle of Man.

Welsh­men Keith Walters and Alun Thomas (Win­dle Honda) lead Tony Thirkell and Trevor John­son (1070cc BMW) to­wards Cross Four Ways.

Steve Fer­gu­son of Pren­ton pow­ers down Castle­town By­pass on his way to vic­tory in the 850cc Classic race on his Green­hall Rac­ing Honda-4.

Lo­cal rider Mikey Evans won the Post-classic Su­per­bike race by al­most 14 sec­onds on the Wil­cock Con­sult­ing ZXR750 Kawasaki.

The podium fin­ish­ers in the 250cc Sin­gles race with Keith Shan­non (53) flanked by run­ner-up Will Loder (21) and Bob Millinship. Also pic­tured is race spon­sor Martin Strat­ford-par­sons and Nat­suki Soutome of Ja­panese or­gan­i­sa­tion Gen­eral In­cor­po­rated As­so­ci­a­tion CSA which pro­vided hand­made medals for all of the race win­ners

The side­car podium for both heats was iden­ti­cal, with win­ners Eddy Wright and Kieran Clarke (sport­ing an Afro-hair­style) in the cen­tre, run­ners-up Alun Thomas (far left) and Keith Walters, and (right) Tony Thirkell with pas­sen­ger Trevor John­son.

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