Classic Racer


- Ben Mccook

The famous Skerries road-races returned at the start of July for the first time since Covid-19 hit the road-race community.

Skerries, in County Dublin, first ran in 1946 and is the jewel in the crown of the Irish roads season south of the border in the Republic of Ireland.

The race has a unique feel due to the nature of the narrow, but fast cart-track circuit. A young Geoff Duke competed there in 1949, crashing out of the race and to this day that section of the course (Duke’s bends) is named after the six-time world champion.

Richard Ford and Andy Hornby have been regulars at the top of the timesheets in the Senior Classic races all season in Ireland, and that continued at Skerries.

Hornby usually seems to have just a little more than Ford and true to form, he initially led the contest on his 750 Triumph. However, machinery problems would rule him out on lap three, leaving Ford on his own to take a straightfo­rward victory.

Ford, as ever, was mounted on the all-blue, Bob Jackson 920cc Norton. It is a striking motorcycle, and Ford always gets the best out of it. At the flag, the lead over John Leigh-pemberton was just under 25 seconds, with Andy Kildea completing the podium roughly the same margin behind the 2nd placed man. Hornby had to make do with the consolatio­n of posting the fastest lap of the race before his big Triumph expired. Mind you, he did record a podium in the Junior Classic race.

Hornby was involved in a fierce battle with Barry Davidson and John Leigh-pemberton in the 350 contest. Davidson is a real Irish roads specialist and has over 90 wins to his name. It looked like he was on for yet another success at Skerries until his 350 Honda gave up the ghost on lap four. It was an unusual double DNF at the meeting for the Cullybacke­y rider – he had also dropped out of the Senior race.

Davidson’s demise left Hornby and Leigh-pemberton to scrap it out to the finish. The pair were virtually inseparabl­e, but it was Leigh-pemberton who took it on the line by just 0.07s. Nigel Moore completed the podium.

The race was a fantastic encounter that’s typical of the kind of bouts traditiona­lly offered up at Skerries. Let’s hope it’s not another three years until the next one.

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