Dunlop beats record breaker Kneen in superb S100 opener; Tweed wins 125/400 race.
Following the completion of practice; the Southern 100 fired into life with a superb Corlett’s trophies 600/1000cc Race. Held in beautiful evening sunshine this race provided a great spectacle for the large crowds gathered around the 4.25 miles of the Billown Circuit.
Quickest away from the lights and leading the mad cavalry charge into Ballakeighan was Michael Dunlop on the Bennett’s Suzuki. He was closely followed by Dan Kneen on the Penz 13 BMW; which had arrived from Finland too late for him to use in Monday’s practice; instead he had used his brother Ryan’s bike. Third into Ballakeighan was Dean Harrison; then it was a real scrum with the riders spread across the track, amongst those noticed were Ivan Lintin, Jamie Coward, Mark Goodings, Anthony Redmond and Michael Russell. It was hectic at the commentary point at Cross Four Ways where hyper excitable commentator Roy Moore tried to describe the action. Dunlop led from Kneen; Lintin, Harrison, Coward and James Cowton.
On lap 2 at Ballakeighan, Dunlop was 2m ahead of Kneen; they were about 15m ahead of the Harrison, Lintin and Coward; with Cowton another 15m back in 6th. At Cross Four Ways, Dunlop led from Kneen with Harrison 3rd, Coward 4th, Lintin 5th and Cowton 6th. Despite each of the first three having minor machine issues they were increasing the pace and lapping at close to record pace. On lap 3 hopes of a local victory strengthened as Dan Kneen led into the tight right hand bend and powered away towards Iron Gate. Dunlop was right behind him; Harrison was 15m behind them with Coward a similar distance adrift of Harrison. Lintin and Cowton maintained their leader board positions. With the field becoming slightly more spread we were able to ascertain that the leading 600cc machine was that of the impressive Joey Thompson; who made his circuit debut in the Post TT meeting.
He looks to be a really classy rider and a future winner; his best practice lap was less than 1.5s off the 600cc pole time. Behind him Darryl Tweed and Brendan Fargher were having a close battle for 2nd place in the class. This was settled when Tweed had a bit of a moment on lap 4 coming into Ballakeighan and lost some time.
Kneen retained the lead throughout lap 4 and led as they took Ballakeighan for the fifth time; but Dunlop was right in his wheel tracks and looking for a way to pass. Kneen kept him at bay and led by a bike’s length at Ballakeighan on lap 6; however despite having a “lack of grunt” Dunlop managed to squeeze past Kneen going into Iron Gate. The two leaders were only 5m ahead of the charging Harrison who had edged away from Coward.
Lintin and Cowton retained 5th and 6th respectively. Dunlop held the lead going into Cross Four Ways and as they crossed the line to begin the final lap. At Ballakeighan; Dunlop had an advantage of 5m from Kneen with Harrison the same distance down on Kneen. These three had pulled 3s clear of Coward.
The pace at the front was amazing; all of the leading trio were inside Michael Dunlop’s 2015 lap record as they strove to take victory. Dunlop was able to resist the challenge of Kneen with a lap of 113.910mph; to take victory by just 0.156s. Kneen had the consolation of setting the new lap record at 114.185mph; with Harrison’s best being 113.606mph on that frantic final lap. With all three having changes to make; Wednesday’s Senior Race should be a superb battle.
Thompson (Kawasaki) was the best 600cc; setting a best lap of 106.025mph; Fargher (Yamaha) was second and Tweed (Triumph) third.
Corlett’s Trophies 600/100cc Race
- Michael Dunlop 1000 Bennett’s Suzuki 111.546mph
- Dan Kneen 1000 Penz 13 BMW 111.528mph
- Dean Harrison 1000 Silicone Kawasaki 111.400mph
- Jamie Coward 1000 Radcliffe’s BMW 110.922mph
- Ivan Lintin 1000 R C Express Kawasaki 108.367mph
- James Cowton 1000 McAdoo Kawasaki 107.796mph
Such is the size of the entry list that a B Race had to be put on for those who missed out on qualifying for the A Race. Richard Carlton was fastest away from the lights and had the lead at Ballakeighan on lap 1. Chasing hard behind were David McConnachy, Andy Sailor, Gavin Lupton and Allan Brodie. Charlton proved to be the class act in the race and he eased away from his pursuers throughout the race; eventually winning by 5.73s from McConnachy; with Lupton winning the fight for 3rd from Jonathan Perry.
600/1000cc B Race
- Richard Charlton 600 Yamaha 102.812mph
- David McConnachy 600 Yamaha 102.249mph
- Gavin Lupton 600 Honda 100.768mph
The final race of the evening was the Station Garage 125/400cc Race. Fastest way from the lights and the leader into Ballakeighan was last year’s winner Darryl Tweed. He was closely followed by Seamus Elliott; back on track after his big accident last year. Those noted at the head of the chasing pack were Adrian Kershaw, Alistair Haworth, Dan Sayle and Paul Gartland. At Cross Four Ways, Tweed led from Elliott and the soon to retire Kershaw.
At Ballakeighan on lap 2 Tweed was pulling away from Elliott; with Sayle up to third on the Moto 3 Honda. Haworth, Gartland and Paul Robinson completed the leader board and retained those positions to the end.
The main interest was centred on Elliott and Sayle’s battle for second. Sayle managed to pass Elliott on the approach to Cross Four Ways on lap 4; but promptly lost the place due to a brake issue that sent him wide. He set about hunting down Elliott and was in second place as they hurtled towards Iron Gate for the final time. Elliott waited for his moment; better braking into and better acceleration out of the final corner allowed him snatch the position on the final lap; by just 0.042s. The re-run on Thursday promises to be interesting.
Station Garage 125/400cc Race
- Darryl Tweed 400 M&D Kawasaki 95.683mph
- Seamus Elliott 400 Yamaha 94.917mph
- Dan Sayle 250 Honda 94.913mph
- Alistair Haworth 400 Yamaha 93.748mph
- Paul Gartland 400 Yamaha 93.365mph
- Paul Robinson 250 Honda 93.185mph