The Isle of Man Classic TT continued its growth with another thrilling event that saw lap records tumble and the diversity of machinery increase once again.
While the Classic has a more laid back festival feel when compared to June’s main TT, the event manages to attract some of the very best TT racers to compete on board some of the most interesting bikes from the past 50 years.
Despite wide differences in machine performance, riders still give it their all at the Classic TT – making it a serious race meeting and not just a competitive parade.
The event takes place alongside the Manx Grand Prix, the amateur event run around the iconic mountain course, and the weekend saw Australian rider Josh Brookes score his first race win around the 37.73 mile road circuit in the opening 500cc Senior race.
The British superbike regular, who raced for Norton at this year’s TT, was a late replacement for the injured John McGuinness on board Team Winfield’s gorgeous Paton replica, a faithful reproduction of the 1960’s twin-cylinder Grand Prix machine. The Australian led from the start, while other favourites for the race dropped out. Ian Lougher, the 2014 winner, crashed out uninjured on his MV Agusta, while Michael Rutter did likewise on his Matchless. The TT course once again proved demanding for the aged bikes, with Dean Harrison the highest profile retirement on another MV Agusta. In the end, Brookes won by 34 seconds from Jamie Coward on a single-cylinder Norton. “My first board wasn’t updated and the second board had me at ‘P +0 so I gave it everything I’d got and risked blowing the engine,” he said after the race. “It was nice to be able to fill in for John which is a great honour but also to win the race for the team.”
As expected, Kiwi Bruce Anstey dominated the Lightweight Classic TT on the Padgett’s Honda RS250. The multiple TT winner averaged almost 118mph over the four lap race to take the win from Lougher, who was promoted to second following the disqualification of original runner-up Michael Rutter due to a technical irregularity.
There was better fortune for Rutter in the third race of the weekend though, as he took victory in the Junior Classic TT for 350cc machines. Riding a Honda, the Midlander won from Lee Johnston and Coward.
Closing the week, Harrison won the Classic Superbike TT from Anstey and Austrian rider Horst Saiger. Riding his Kawasaki ZXR750, Harrison won by over 16 seconds from pre-race favourite Anstey on the two-stroke Yamaha YZR500 Grand Prix machine. In the end, heavier fuel consumption hampered Anstey’s challenge, although the New Zealander did have the consolation of a new lap record, averaging a staggering 127.496mph on the 25 year old machine.
Another of the pre-race favourites, Michael, retired from the Superbike race with technical problems, however the Northern Irish rider did provide one of the highlights of the event when he averaged over 100mph on a replica of the 1957 Gilera that had powered the great Bob McIntyre to the first ever ‘ton up’ TT lap 60 years earlier. Wearing a period style open faced helmet, the outright TT lap record holder stunned the crowd and achieved the feat despite having never even ridden the bike prior to the demo lap.
“It’s one of the best experiences I’ve ever had,” said Dunlop. “ It was so strange to ride. I don’t know if it was me or the fairings – it felt like the tyres were flat. It would have been great to run the bike in the Senior race. It was a real honour to ride the bike and I’d like to thank Mark Kaye (bike builder) and Paul Phillips (TT organiser) for making it possible.”
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Pictures courtesy of Isle of Man TT press office/Pacemaker Press