Classic Racer

BRILLIANT BILLOWN!

As usual there’s more than just The Mountain Course on the Island. Classic Racer was there for the PRE-TT Classic at the Billown circuit.

- Words by: John Watterson Photograph­s by: Peter Faragher, Mark Falconer, John Watterson

Dominic Herbertson racked up a brace of wins on the Davies Motorsport Yamaha TX500 in the return of the popular PRE-TT Classic at Billown in the south of the Isle of Man.

For good measure, the Hexham lumberjack completed a hat-trick in the Blackford Financial Services-sponsored three-day meeting by also winning the 350cc Junior race. It was the first time that the 1973/1974 air-cooled

Yamaha twin had been used in anger on a public roads course. Teammate Mike Hose was not so fortunate with his TX500, but he made light work of the opening Singles race on Lee Gourley’s 350cc Bultaco.

He cleared off from the word go and was almost 30 seconds ahead of Bill Swallow’s Seeley AJS after three laps, half-distance.

At the close the winning margin was 49.8s at an average speed of 84.68mph. “The Bultaco is simply brilliant,” said Hose after racking up his 19th PRE-TT win since 1993.

Huddersfie­ld veteran Swallow admitted the Spanish two-stroke was embarrassi­ngly quick. “Mike cleared off right from the start, there was no living with him! My 7R went well, considerin­g it has been in a shed for the last 15 years.”

David Tetley of Selby was another 30 seconds adrift on his 350cc Manx Norton, sportingly admitting that he was gifted third place after Alan Oversby pulled over with an issue on the formation lap. Tetley’s podium finish was notable, having only had a collarbone fracture plated three weeks earlier.

Newcomer Andy Hunt of Ely in Cambridges­hire won the 250cc class on a Ducati Monza, finishing an excellent fourth overall. He had a close dice with Ulsterman Barry Davidson in his first race on a little Honda twin. They were neck-and-neck for much of the way, but the Ducati had the edge on top speed. “It is marvellous to come here and win here first time,” said Hunt.

A fine third place went to Geoff Bates of Thornton Cleveleys, his second podium on the Honda CBXL.

Win number one for Herbertson came on the Yamaha in the 1100cc race the same evening. He fired into an early lead of 9.5 seconds after two laps of the 4.25-mile course that is based on the peripheral­s of Castletown. The margin dropped significan­tly in the latter stages as Herbertson struggled with an oil leak and overheatin­g – the TX500’S Achilles’ heel. He held on to finish 2.9s clear of Alan Oversby (Honda-4), who had a racelong dice with Jamie Coward on Ted Craven’s Manx Norton. “There was an oil leak on the left side, so my foot was slipping off the peg a bit. I kept an eye on it but there was not a big loss of oil,” revealed Dom. “It’s always good to have these old bikes well topped up before the start.”

Oversby held on to second place by 0.3s from Coward who grabbed the fastest lap of the race in his efforts to get past the Boltonle-sands man. Commenting, Coward said: “That was a fantastic battle. Alan and I were knocking spots off one another. He is a fair

and very good rider: His advantage in the end was the Honda’s ability to drive out of the tight corners better.”

Rod Bellas of York won a fiercely contested opening sidecar race at the end of the evening with new passenger Glenn Dawson. The 1200cc Imp-powered pair had to overcome a spirited effort from Bellas’s former sidekick Danny Quirk of Leyland, now driving a 1272cc Vincent-engined outfit built by the race winner. The latter pair made a better start but, by Quirk’s own admission, he got a bit ‘giddy’ and Bellas out-braked him into Iron Gate corner on lap one of four. The winning margin was a comfortabl­e 14.7s, but Quirk and Weston were pushed all the way by Tony Thirkell and Trevor Johnson on a 1070cc BMW. The margin at the finish was little more than two-tenths of a second. Newcomers David Lissaman and Mark Leeton of Oakham and Derby respective­ly were right up with Thirkell/johnson at one point, but they overcooked it at Cross Four Ways and spun out with a little over one lap remaining. Marvin Vermeulin and Jouk Hahn of the Netherland­s were an excellent fourth as newcomers to the event, with Andy Nourish and Micheil Leeflang fifth on the 1000cc Weslake.

The combined 250cc and 125cc race on the bank holiday Monday of TT qualifying week saw no fewer than four different leaders.

Keith Shannon got off to a cracking start, but Ewan Hamilton had powered his way into the lead by Cross Four Ways on a similar T20 Suzuki. Hamilton led by 5.3s from Hose’s Ariel Arrow after two laps, with Loris Hunt third on another Suzuki twin. The top three were evenly spread at half-distance about four seconds apart, with Richard Ford and Barry Davidson close for fourth, followed by the leading 125 of Hefyn Owen in sixth.

The engine seized on Hamilton’s bike in the early stages of lap four, leaving Hose 0.6 of a second in front of Hunt. The latter man moved into the lead at Cross Four Ways on lap five, but Hose was back ahead by half a second going into the final circuit. Hunt was again in the lead at Cross Four Ways, less than two miles from the flag, and although Hose had another dig at Castletown Stadium, Hunt held on to take the win by 0.653 of a second.

Ford edged away from Davidson to grab the final podium place, while Owen won the new 125cc class by 26s from debutant Russell Roebury of Worcester, with Mark Herbertson a close third in his first race on a 125. Unaware of his success, Knaresboro­ugh man Hunt asked: “Did I win? I thought I was second!”

Hose admitted it had been a brilliant race, but said that he had ended up in the foliage at Billown Dip trying to get past on the final lap.

Owen said that his ride on the 125 had been hard work as he is a big guy and it had been difficult to keep tucked in.

In cool conditions, Chris Moore of New Mills in Derbyshire’s High Peak led the Junior Superbike race from start to finish on his 250cc Yamagata in what was only his second year on the course.

“Wow, I can’t believe it,” he beamed. “I nipped past early leader Tom Snow on the inside into Iron Gate on lap one. I kept waiting for Dom Herbertson to appear, I had no idea that he’d failed to start. The engine temperatur­e fluctuated quite a bit, but the bike never missed a beat.” Snow finished 10 seconds down, while local newcomer Marcus Simpson rode a 1986 750cc Ducati F1 replica to the final podium position.

The closest finish of the day was in the Consolatio­n race where newcomer Simon Lehane of Pontefract finished 0.039 of a second in front of Michael Titchmarsh of Brotton in a thrilling finale.

Veteran all-rounder Arthur Browning got off to a strong start on his Seeley Matchless, but dropped back to third and retired on lap four, leaving Lehane and Titchmarsh to slug it out. Dom Herbertson had no problems in winning the 350cc and 500cc events back-to-back.

Adam Mclean got off to a good start in the Junior, but Herbertson was leading by Cross Four Ways from similarly Honda-mounted Rob Hodson. He steadily pulled clear and was five seconds clear of Hodson after three laps. Coward produced a record lap of 91.274mph in an attempt to overhaul Hodson, but the latter fought back to win the final sprint to the line for the runner-up spot by 0.1s.

Herbertson won by a margin of 4.585 seconds at a new race record pace.

Bang on form, Herbertson then set a track record for the Senior race back on the TX500 Yamaha. He led from the start and had a five-second advantage over team-mate Hose on the sister bike after two laps, with Coward right in the latter’s slipstream on the Craven Norton.

Herbertson and Coward both went inside Oversby’s 2019 lap record on lap three, but soon afterwards a shower of rain in the Iron Gate / Ballabeg area put a different complexion on the race. The conditions worked in Oversby’s favour and he promptly moved up to second ahead of Coward. Although he also took a couple of seconds out of Herbertson, there was not enough time to reel him in and the latter won by a margin of 10.591s. “I had the tyres for the wet, but ran out of time to catch Dom back up,” said Oversby. Coward struggled with a tyre that he said had a harder carcass, so didn’t want to chance it.

The Senior Post-classic event saw a close race between two riders at the opposite ends in terms of experience.

Local off-roader Joe Yeardsley was making

his maiden attempt at a closed roads race in a head-to-head with 20-time winner Mike Hose. Leader for the first two laps was Paul ‘Potchy’ Williams on the 750 Kawasaki, but he retired on lap three.

Andy Sailor of Lancaster took over on a similar machine, with Hose and Yeardsley six seconds behind. Yeardsley nipped up the inside of Hose’s 810cc ZXR at Cross Four Ways into second and was 3.9s off the lead with two laps remaining.

Having plumped for an intermedia­te front in the mixed conditions, Sailor’s bike became a handful in the latter stages. He later said that he almost ended up in a farmyard at one point as he wrestled to control his machine. With two laps remaining Sailor’s lead had shrunk to 0.27s and heading into the final lap the three were neck-and-neck.

Hose held on to win by 0.578s from Yeardsley’s 1991 Honda CBR, the only 600 in the race. Sailor was another 0.45s down in third. After setting his fastest lap of the course to date at a speed of 101.443mph in more than 30 years of racing on it, Hose was full of praise for Yeardsley in his first proper road race. The latter’s father, Buddy, won the Senior Manx Grand Prix in 1985 on a Suzuki RG500.

A bent gear lever incurred in an overtaking manoeuvre

in the early stages of the second sidecar race denied Rod Bellas and Glenn Dawson the chance of going for a double victory win on their Imp-powered outfit.

David Lissaman and Rob Child (BMW), who had spun out of the opener, grabbed the early lead over Danny Quirk and Dylan Weston (Vincent) with newcomers Marvin Vermeulin and Jouk Hahn (Triumph) third. Bmwpowered Tony Thirkell and Trevor Johnson moved up to second on lap two and led at half-distance by 0.9 of a second.

It was all-change again one lap later with Quirk and Weston in front by 0.8s from Thirkell/johnson, then Vermeulin/hahn and Lissaman/child back down to fourth.

Thirkell/johnson were ahead at Cross Four Ways, but Quirk/weston took the honours in a thrilling sprint to the line by little more than 0.2s, with Lissaman/child another 1.1s behind. A mere 1.4 seconds covered the first four places.

 ?? ??
 ?? ?? Below: Senior Classic action on Lap 1 into Cross Four Ways.
Below: Senior Classic action on Lap 1 into Cross Four Ways.
 ?? ?? Tony and Sarah Banister in action.
Tony and Sarah Banister in action.
 ?? ?? Jamie Coward in the Senior Classic.
Jamie Coward in the Senior Classic.
 ?? ?? Rod Bellas and Glenn Dawson, sidecar race one winners.
Rod Bellas and Glenn Dawson, sidecar race one winners.
 ?? ?? Barry Davidson leads 250 Singles winner Andy Hunt.
Barry Davidson leads 250 Singles winner Andy Hunt.
 ?? ?? Bob Dawson heads Andy Nourish in the sidecar race.
Bob Dawson heads Andy Nourish in the sidecar race.
 ?? ?? Mike Hose in the Post Classic Superbike.
Mike Hose in the Post Classic Superbike.
 ?? ?? Veronika Hankocyova in the Post Classic Superbike race.
Veronika Hankocyova in the Post Classic Superbike race.
 ?? ?? Dom Herbertson in the Senior Classic is watched by Mike Hose.
Dom Herbertson in the Senior Classic is watched by Mike Hose.
 ?? ?? Mike Hose leads Alan Oversby in the Senior Classic.
Mike Hose leads Alan Oversby in the Senior Classic.
 ?? ?? Danny Quirk and Dylan Weston lead the pack.
Danny Quirk and Dylan Weston lead the pack.
 ?? ?? Mike Hose aboard his 350 Bultaco.
Mike Hose aboard his 350 Bultaco.
 ?? ?? The 125 Lightweigh­t podium (left to right) Russell Roebury, Hefyn Owen and Mark Herbertson.
The 125 Lightweigh­t podium (left to right) Russell Roebury, Hefyn Owen and Mark Herbertson.
 ?? ?? The 350cc podium (left-to right) Rob Hodson, Dom Herbertson and Jamie Coward.
The 350cc podium (left-to right) Rob Hodson, Dom Herbertson and Jamie Coward.
 ?? ?? Loris Hunt’s 250 Suzuki.
Loris Hunt’s 250 Suzuki.
 ?? ?? The 250cc podium with (from left) Mike Hose, Andy Hunt and Richard Ford.
The 250cc podium with (from left) Mike Hose, Andy Hunt and Richard Ford.

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