1989

Classic Racer - - PRODUCTION TT -

There was change on the Pro­duc­tion front in 1989 with just two races for the 750cc and 1300cc classes as the 600cc and 400cc cat­e­gories had been up­graded to Su­pers­port sta­tus in­stead. De­spite only set­ting the sec­ond fastest time in prac­tice,yamaha’s Leach be­ing quick­est, His­lop was again favourite for honours in the 750cc race and, in­deed, he led at the end of the open­ing lap with a new lap record of 114.62mph. It was clear he wasn’t go­ing to have it his own way though and the race turned out to be a clas­sic as His­lop, Leach and Carl Fog­a­rty bat­tled short cir­cuit style for the en­tire four laps. His­lop’s de­ci­sion to pit for fuel at the end of the first lap – Leach and Fog­a­rty stop­ping at the end of lap two – ul­ti­mately proved to be his un­do­ing and at half race dis­tance,tt For­mula One World Cham­pion Fog­a­rty led start­ing part­ner Leach by three sec­onds. Fog­a­rty had the bet­ter pit stop though and his lead soared to al­most nine sec­onds with just one lap to go. Hal­i­fax rider Leach gave it his all on the fi­nal lap and de­spite a loose ex­haust, shat­tered the lap record with a speed of 116.91mph which, at the time, was quicker than the 1300cc lap record! Fog­a­rty had nosed ahead at Bran­dish though and he wasn’t to be de­nied his firsttt win, the gap at the end a minis­cule 1.8s. His­lop had to set­tle for third as the RC30 took five of the first seven spots. By this time, con­cern was be­gin­ning to be ex­pressed about the Pro­duc­tion ma­chines and their suit­abil­ity to the Moun­tain Course as the in­creased speeds weren’t be­ing matched by sim­i­lar im­prove­ments in the han­dling of the ma­chines, es­pe­cially the large ca­pac­ity class where the bikes were es­sen­tially tour­ing bikes which were go­ing rac­ing. 1989 proved to be the water­shed year and, sadly, it took a dou­ble fa­tal­ity for changes to fi­nally take place in what would prove to be one of the dark­est days in the TT’S his­tory. Mel­lor crashed his Suzuki at Do­ran’s Bend, dy­ing later in hos­pi­tal, and just nine miles later, team-mate Whitham crashed at Quarry Bends. He was un­scathed but Mike Se­ward and Steve Hen­shaw touched try­ing to avoid the de­bris with Hen­shaw be­ing killed in­stantly and Se­ward badly hurt. A num­ber of rid­ers, in­clud­ing Mor­ri­son and Ray Swann, stopped to help and even­tu­ally pulled in but the race con­tin­ued with Leach and Nick Jef­feries locked in bat­tle on their Fzr1000yamaha’s. Both lapped in ex­cess of 117mph, Jef­feries claim­ing a new lap record at 117.27mph but it was Leach who came out on top for the sec­ond year in suc­ces­sion with Alan Bat­son giv­ingyamaha a clean sweep of the podium. It was a very som­bre ros­trum though as ev­ery­one be­came fully aware of the tragic events of that fate­ful sec­ond lap.the loss of two of the TT’S big­gest sup­port­ers hit the sport hard and when the 1990TT sched­ule was an­nounced, no one was sur­prised to see the Pro­duc­tion ma­chines dropped from the event in re­sponse to the tragedies. The sta­bil­ity of the pow­er­ful street bikes had been in ques­tion be­fore the ac­ci­dents with sev­eral top rid­ers not trust­ing their in­fe­rior han­dling. Wisely it was de­cided that th­ese bikes were just too heavy and pow­er­ful to con­trol around the 37¾ mile cir­cuit at lap speeds ap­proach­ing 120mph. It would be seven more years be­fore Pro­duc­tion would re­turn to the Isle of Man TT.

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