Blackford Financial Services Pre-TT Classic Road Races

 

The first race of the 2009 TT Festival; the Pre-TT Classic Singles Race was held on Saturday afternoon at the conclusion of the second round of practice sessions. The 4.25 miles of the Billown Circuit was bathed in sunshine, with just a slight breeze providing some welcome cooling for the spectators.

The action on the track proved to be as hot as the weather, with new lap and records being set. From the lights it was Blackpool’s Roy Richardson who grabbed the initiative on Dick Linton’s FCL Aermacchi. Those of us expecting it be a very tight race for the top step of the podium were soon to be disavowed as Richardson pulled rapidly away from his pursuers. By the time he reached Castletown Corner, just over 4 miles into the lap he had an advantage of 6.25s on our very unofficial timing. Behind him was a group of three riders who were just inches apart; they were Bill Swallow, his son Chris and Mike Hose.  Jamie O’Brien and Allan Brew completed the top six; the latter man still recovering from injuries sustained at Cookstown. The 250cc class was led by last year’s winner Roger Birkenhead who had the amazing 81 years old Ted Fenwick close behind.

On lap 2 Richardson doubled his lead; in the process setting a new lap record. Behind him the Swallows were at it like a couple of junk yard dogs fighting over a bone; no quarter asked; none given. This time it was Chris first, with Bill and Mike Hose in line astern. With no signallers on the course Richardson continued to build his lead; his pursuers slowing themselves as they fought over second place.

At half distance we had Richardson 19.5s in the lead. Bill again led the chasing trio; with O’Brien 5th and Arthur Browning up to 6th due to Brew slowing. Birkenhead continued to lead from Fenwick in the 250cc class. Lap four saw no change in positions, but Hose was a few metres down on the duelling Swallows, due to be forced wide by them at Cross Four Ways; half way around the track. Lap 5 saw Hose back with the Swallows; however he lost ground due to coming in too hot and running wide.

On the final lap, Richardson, being unaware of how big his lead was, put in the fastest lap of the race to leave the lap record at 88.447mph. He took 11 seconds off Bill Swallow’s race record to leave it at 87.358mph. The Swallows had 10 metres in hand over Hose on the final circuit. Bill used of all of the road and got good drive out of the corner to take second from Chris by just 0.4s, with Hose a further 0.5s behind him. Jamie O’Brien and Arthur Browning completed the leader board. Roger Birkenhead took the 250cc honours from Ted Fenwick by 4.2s, with Richard Bool claiming the final podium place.

A great start to racing for 2009; hopefully the weather and racing will continue to be red hot for the next two weeks.

1.       Roy Richardson                         Aermacchi                 87.358mph

2.       Bill Swallow                             AJS                         84.811mph

3.       Chris Swallow                             Ducati                   84.781mph

4.       Mike Hose                      Bultaco                 84.745mph

5.       Jamie O’Brien                                Greeves                82.210mph

6.       Arthur Browning                Seeley                  79.454mph

250cc Class

1.       Roger Birkenhead                Ducati                   74.984mph

2.       Ted Fenwick                              Ducati                   74.728mph

3.     Richard Boole                    Ducati                   67.205mph

 

Monday again brought clear blue skies and hot weather to the Billown Circuit. The fans gathered around the 4.25 miles of the circuit were able to top up the tan whilst they watched the day’s racing.

First race of the morning was the Lightweight Race. Pole sitter was 2003 winner Ewan Hamilton; with Terry Kermode and Mike Hose, both previous winners, alongside him. On the first lap cavalry charge into Cross Four Ways it was the Ariel mounted Mike Hose who led narrowly from Ewan Hamilton and Terry Kermode. They were followed by Dave Edwards, Peter Richardson and Bob Owen. The positions were the same as the field charged along the bypass to complete the lap.  On lap two Hamilton had a machine’s length lead as they took the tight right hander at Cross Four Ways and accelerated towards Church Bends. They were 3 seconds ahead of Terry Kermode on our watch; who in turn was opening a gap on Edwards, Richardson and Owen.

Lap 3 saw the first of many retirements from the race; both Terry Kermode and Bob Owen were obliged to park their machines, as was past winner Bud Jackson. At our vantage point Hamilton led by a couple of machine’s lengths, with Edwards 10 seconds in arrears. At the end of the lap Hose was again in the lead, by just 0.16s. On lap 4 Hamilton had a marginal lead he passed us. Edwards was safe in third; but a blanket would have covered the battle for fourth between, Richardson, Les Trotter and Tom Jackson.  The order remained the same on laps 5 and 6; but for Dave Edwards and Tom Jackson the race was over on lap 7.

On lap 8 it was Hose who had retaken the lead by 0.1s as the leaders passed us. Les Trotter retired at Cross Four Ways and Peter Richardson’s machine also threw in the towel on this lap. The final twist in the tale came at Ballakeighan on the final lap; Hamilton’s machine expired, costing him his chance of victory. Hose, perhaps unaware of Hamilton’s misfortune, put in the fastest lap of the race on his final lap; suggesting that he had matters under control in any event. The spate of retirements promoted local man Danny Pullen to second and Bill Robertson to third. Bob Jackson’s lap and race records from 1997 remained in intact for another year.

250cc Lightweight

1.       Mike Hose                      Ariel                      82.576mph

2.       Danny Pullen                   Suzuki                   75.507mph

3.       Bill Robertson                           Suzuki                   75.496mph

4.       Roger Birkenhead                Ducati                   74.748mph

5.       Roger Jones                    Suzuki                   73.208mph

6.       Ted Fenwick                              Ducati                   73.023mph

 

The next race, the Greystone Senior, had the promise of being the best of the meeting with the top three in practice having lapped at over 90mph. On the opening lap it was those three riders who were at the head of events. Alan Oversby led by a machine’s length from Chris Swallow, both Norton mounted, with the Roy Richardson (Aermacchi) right on Chris’s rear wheel.  Behind them the chasing pack was led by Paul Coward (Weslake), Mark Parrett (G50) and Rich Hawkins (Honda). At the end of the lap it was Blackpool’s Richardson who had a tiny 0.08s advantage over Oversby, with Swallow third.  At Cross Four Ways on lap 2 Richardson had opened up a 50 metres advantage over Swallow, who just out braked Oversby as they came into the corner. The top six was completed by Coward, Hawkins and Wattie Brown. At the end of the lap Richardson’s lead was 0.37s.

On Lap 3 at Cross Four Ways; Richardson had extended his lead to 0.75s, with Oversby 1.25s ahead of Swallow on our very unofficial timing. Coward was clear in third; Brown had passed Hawkins to take fifth position. Just when it seemed that Richardson was going to ease away for victory his machine was slowed by an exhaust manifold problem. So it was that on lap 4 Oversby led by a couple of machine’s lengths as they peeled into the tight right hand bend. Swallow was couple of seconds behind in third. Swallow was in turn 30s clear of Coward and Brown; with Allan Brew up to sixth on his G50.

On lap 5 Oversby led by 2s from Swallow, who was in turn 2s ahead of Richardson on our fake Timex. Coward, Brown and Hawkins; back ahead of Brew; filled the leader board placings. The pattern of the race was now set; Oversby clear despite an intermittent misfire; Swallow content to keep a safe second and Richardson nursing his machine in third place. The battle for sixth between Brew and Hawkins provided the main point of interest; with Brew eventually getting the better of his fellow local.

Greystone Senior

1.       Alan Oversby                              Norton                 91.477mph

2.       Chris Swallow                             Norton                 91.051mph

3.       Roy Richardson                         Aermacchi                90.757mph

4.       Paul Coward                 Weslake                87.970mph

5.       Wattie Brown                   Norton                 87.757mph

6.       Allan Brew                      SeeleyG50                87.424mph

The final race of the morning was the Sidecar Race over 6 laps. Leading the charge on lap were the winners for the last two years; Nick Houghton / Paul Thomas (Windle). They had taken over 1 second per mile on the run to Cross Four Ways. In second place was the pairing of Eddie Wright / Neil Wheatley (Imp); with previous winners Ralf Engelhardt / Winfried Viecenz third on the gorgeous Busch BMW. Bouman/Kiers; Collonge/Marriner and Salter/Salter; whose race was over on the next lap.

On lap 2 Houghton held a 7.8s advantage on our watch and seemed to have the race in the bag. Wright led Engelhardt by 13.6s. The demise of the Salters allowed local pairing of Eddy Toombs / Bob Dowty to take sixth. Lap 3 saw no changes; but on lap 4 the leaders were obliged to park their outfit at Ballawhetstone, leaving Wright  in control of the race. Collonge/Marriner held fourth at Cross Four Ways, but failed to complete the lap; moving Toombs/Dowty up another place.

The leaders eased their pace and duly took a well deserved victory. Despite the perfect conditions the lap and race records remained intact.

Sidecar Classic

1.       Eddie Wright/Neil Wheatley                           Imp                        81.493mph

2.       Ralf Engelhardt/Winfried Viecenz                BMW                     79.474mph

3.       Kobus Baumann/Sam Kiers                      Weslake                76.759mph

4.       Eddy Toombs/Bob Dowty                   BMW                     75.208mph

5.       Albert H Price/Dicky Gale                       Yamaha                                68.467mph

6.       Richard Pouwels/Kim van Loon                      Harley                   64.853mph

     

The first race of the afternoon session was the Quine & Cubbon Junior Race. This had the potential to be a cracking race, with five previous winners set to do battle, it would have been six had Mike Hose not been a withdrawal. The practice leader board suggested that it would be mere fractions that settled the outcome.

It was pole sitter Alan Oversby who was quickest away from the lights and by Church Bends he had built a lead of 1.9s over Chris McGahan and Roy Richardson.  They had an advantage of 2.1s over Paul Coward; Mark Parrett was 1.05s behind Coward and in turn led Bill Swallow, on the first of the single cylinder machines, by 2.05s. At the end of the lap Oversby had stretched his lead to 2.6s. Ballabeg Hairpin on lap 2 saw the end of Roy Richardson who slid off for the second time in the meeting. Thankfully Roy was uninjured and able to practice on the Mountain Circuit in the evening; although he did withdraw from the Post-Classi c Superbike Race at this meeting.

Lap 2 at Church saw Oversby leading by 5.8s from McGahan with Coward 3s further behind. The demise of Richardson moved Rich Hawkins into sixth place. On lap 3 Oversby flicked through the S bend at Church with a lead 7.9s on our watch; with Coward 10s ahead of new third place man Mark Parrett. Swallow as up to fourth; then came Paul Coward on his ailing Fenna Honda; he was destined not to complete the lap.

On lap 4 Oversby led by 7.1s from McGahan; with Parrett 12.9s further behind and beginning to come under pressure from Bill Swallow on the Ripley Land AJS. Hawkins was up fifth, with Chris Swallow in sixth on his Ducati. On lap 5 Oversby led by 9 seconds as left Church for the flat out run through Great Meadow; however it was not to be his race because his Craven Honda expired at Castletown Corner. Oversby’s misfortune left McGahan with a lead of 15.1s over Parrett and Swallow, who were a machine’s length apart leaving Church. Alec Whitwell inherited the final leader board position on his Bates Honda.

The positions were unchanged on lap 5; the Parrett / Swallow duel providing the best spectacle for the spectators who were basking in the hot afternoon sunshine. McGahan was secure in the lead and eased his pace to save the machine which was developing an intermittent misfire. The lead was 16.1s on lap 6; but from Swallow who was 0.25s ahead of Parrett. However, at the end of the lap the faster Honda was again in front of the AJS. On lap 7 McGahan’s lead was down to 12s; with Parrett holding an advantage of 0.3s over Swallow who was cornering faster to try to make up for his lack straight line speed.

On the penultimate lap McGahan led by 11.1s; from Parrett and Swallow who just a couple of metres apart as they hammered towards Great Meadow. The order behind them was unchanged. On the final lap McGahan had 10.9s in hand on our watch. Parrett and Swallow were still in line astern and trying all they knew to secure second place. They were together at the Castletown Corner and inseparable to the naked eye as they crossed the finish line. Eventually the argument was settled in Parret’s favour by the smallest possible margin; just 0.001s. Hawkins took fourth, Chris Swallow fifth and Alec Whitwell sixth, after another good ride.

Quine & Cubbon Junior Race

1.       Chris McGahan                           Honda                   86.346mph

2.       Mark Parrett                  Honda                   85.745mph

3.       Bill Swallow                             AJS                         85.745mph

4.       Rich Hawkins                              Honda                   85.348mph

5.       Chris Swallow                             Ducati                   84.232mph

6.       Alec Whitwell                             Honda                   83.874mph

 

Race 6 was The 4 Hire Post Classic Superbike / 850cc Classic Race. This was quite a difficult race for the commentators with two classes running concurrently; but interesting for the spectators, with a wide variety of machinery in the mix.

Quickest away from the lights and the leader at Church on lap 1 was Paul Coward on the powerful NRE Weslake; he had Norton mounted Alan Oversby right behind him as they accelerated away towards Great Meadow and Stadium Bend. Chris Swallow was in third on his Norton, 1.9s down on Oversby. The next three positions were taken by Post Classic machines. Steve Dobbie (Harris Kawasaki) held fourth; Jamie O’Brien (350 Yamaha) fifth and last year’s class winner Stephen Walls (Suzuki) held sixth. These three covered by less than 2 seconds.

On lap 2 Oversby led by 0.25s at Church; with Swallow in third 1.5s down on Coward. At the end of the lap the faster Weslake was leading again. Walls was up to fourth, Dobbie was fifth and O’Brien sixth.  On lap 3 Coward led by 0.4s at Church, but had increased that to 2s by the end of the lap. Swallow was safe in third, 19 s ahead of Walls; who was destined to retire on the next circuit.

On lap 4 Coward led by 1.9s as he flicked right then left past the churchyard. Oversby in turn held a 2.2s advantage over Swallow. The man on the move was Ewan Hamilton on the ex Jim Moodie 250cc Yamaha; he now held fifth place.  The leading three were established in their positions. Despite Oversby lapping inside his old lap record to 93.894mph he was not able to make any inroads into the lead of Coward who raised the lap record to 94.275mph on lap 5. Such was the pace that Coward knocked 13.25s off the race record set by Chris Palmer in 2005.

With the aid of 90mph+ laps Ewan Hamilton was able to bring his little Yamaha home in fourth place overall to win the Post Classic class. After dropping sixth Dobbie was able to reclaim fifth when Jamie O’Brien was slowed by brake problems on the final two laps. O’Brien  only kept Mark Parrett at bay by 0.028s. This had been a scorching race to match the weather.

4 Hire Post Classic Superbike / 850cc Classic Race

1.       Paul Coward                                 849 Weslake                             92.637mph

2.       Alan Oversby                              500 Norton                 91.854mph

3.       Chris Swallow                             499 Norton                 91.265mph

4.       Ewan Hamilton                           249 Yamaha                                88.528mph

5.       Steve Dobbie                 998 Harris                    87.304mph

6.       Jamie O’Brien                                350 Yamaha                                87.151mph

 

The final race of the programme was the Support Race. Trevor Rufus; who had broken down on lap 1 of the Senior Race was the class act in this race. He led by 4.5s at Church on lap 1 and by 6s at the end of the lap. He continued to pull away from his pursuers to win by the proverbial country mile. John Foy held second for two laps before his machine cried enough. Danny Pullen took over in second place and held it to the end. Edward Poole passed Bernie Wright on lap 6 to secure third place.

Support Race

1.       Trevor Rufus                 500 Honda                   81.822mph

2.       Danny Pullen                350 Yamaha                                77.798mph      

3.       Edward Poole                500 Norton                 77.135mph

 

The day’s racing was over in what seemed no time at all. The organization was excellent as ever with everything running to time or early. The marshals were spot on, as always, doing what needed to done with the minimum of fuss. The weather was the icing on the cake, adding to the enjoyment. Bring on the two stroke TTs.