Bedfordshire racer Olie Linsdell; who topped the practice leader board; duly won his first race on the TT Mountain Course since his double win in the 2007 Manx Grand Prix Newcomers’ and Ultra Lightweight races. He led from flag to flag to deservedly take the winner’s laurels in the Bennetts 500cc Classic TT Race on the Giovanni Cabassi Paton.
Olie’s Paton had the honour of getting the inaugural TT Races presented by Bennetts underway. The Paton roared into life to signal the start of the 2013 Classic TT Races races presented by Bennetts and was followed off the line by Cameron Donald riding the Ripley Land Racing Matchless, John McGuinness on the Team Winfield Paton and Bruce Anstey on the McIntosh Racing/Mobil 1 Norton.
Gary Johnson’s MV Agusta failed to fire but the Lincs Lifting rider valiantly pushed off the line to St Ninians and got the Italian machine going on Bray Hill but any chance of victory had already gone. Conor Cummins was an early retiree, he parked the Dunnell Norton on the approach to Appledene.
Linsdell’s lead was almost 8 seconds by Glen Helen; where McGuinness was behind Anstey on the road and clearly having a problem with the machine. Linsdell was away and clear on the road at Ramsey; with a nearly 30s lead from William Dunlop on the Honda 4. Leading the challenge of the single cylinder machines was Bruce Anstey on the McIntosh Norton. Michael Dunlop’s Norton had a slight misfire as it left the square; whilst McGuinness’s Paton sounded as sick as a Norwegian Blue parrot as it limped away. Linsdell was flying; he completed his first lap in a time of 111.446mph, beating Ryan Farquhar’s lap record of 110.984 set in the 2010 Manx Grand Prix meeting; this from a standing start and slowing for the pits where he topped up to ensure two flying laps.
Linsdell held a healthy lead of almost forty seconds over William Dunlop 108.016mph on the Davies Motorsport Honda at the end of lap 1 with Bruce Anstey on the McIntosh Mobil 1 Norton in third a further six seconds back on Dunlop. Cameron Donald held fourth after an opening lap of 106.861mph, with Jamie Coward a further three seconds back on the Australian. Chris Palmer on the Shelton Matchless completed the top six at the end of the opening lap.
McGuinness limped over the mountain on the ailing Paton and he eventually retired in the pits at the end of the first lap having clocked 94.901mph.
Both Linsdell and second placed rider William Dunlop came into the pits at the end of the first lap to refuel but despite the pit stop, Linsdell still led by 15 seconds from Anstey with Cameron Donald third at Glen Helen on the second lap; but a lengthy stop dropped Dunlop down the order. Leaving Parliament Square on lap 2 Linsdell led by 27.25s from Anstey with Donald third, Palmer fourth, Coward fifth and Richardson sixth. However, it soon changed with Cameron Donald reported out at Cruickshanks, then Bruce Anstey’s challenge ended at Brandywell. Coward leapfrogged Palmer by the end of the second lap to move into second with Blackpool rider Roy Richardson riding FCL Racing/Martin Bullock Manxsport Aermacchi lapping in company with Palmer and holding fourth. William Dunlop was up to fifth and Ian Lougher to sixth on the Flitwick Royal Enfield.
Linsdell’s power was apparent for all to see when he went through the Sulby speed trap at 146.84mph and he extended his lead on the third lap with a new lap record, raising it to 111.660mph to lead by almost fifty seconds from Coward in second. Chris Palmer was the next to suffer gremlins, he retired at Governors on the third lap, Dunlop moved into the final podium place and closed the gap on Coward to less than a second, with Richardson up to fourth and Ian Lougher fifth and Alan Oversby sixth. Leading privateer Maria Costello held a fine seventh on her Paton.
While Linsdell consolidated his lead at the front and closed the race out to win with a final lap of 109.401mph and a race time of 1h:22m.07.732s, Dunlop had passed Coward by Glen Helen on the fourth lap and held second place with a race time of 1h:24m.08.911s, after matching Linsdell’s lap speed of 109.401mph. Coward secured third, finishing in 1h:24m.33.336s. Lougher, Richardson and James Hillier completed the top six, with Michael Dunlop nursing his Norton to seventh.
In the battle for privateer honours the challenges of Maria Costello and Bob Owen melted away due to machine failures on the final lap. A delighted Doug Snow, who finished in tenth place on the John Snow Ducati, received the garland as the leading privateer with a race time of 1h:32m.19.762s.
Dave Matravers was taken by airmed to Nobles with an injury to his shoulder and knee but was later discharged.
Following the race, the riders had an additional qualifying session for Monday’s Motorsport Merchandise Formula 1, Formula 2 and Formula Classic Races and the Okells 350/250cc races, which will take place on Monday.
Notable performances in a well attended session came from leader on the road Michael Dunlop on his Team Classic Suzuki machine with his fastest time of the week – 124.049mph which he set on the opening lap. His second lap, which could potentially have been quicker, was short-lapped just before pit lane. When I spoke to Michael he had no doubt that on race day he could crack the 125mph barrier. Gary Johnson got rid of some of his frustrations from the Bennetts 500cc race with a lap of 114.529mph on his Yamaha. Connor Cummins put in two laps on his Suzuki before squeezing in another on the little 350cc Dunnell Norton.
Bennetts 500cc Classic TT
1. Olie Linsdell CMM Paton 110.256mph
2. William Dunlop Davies Honda 107.610mph
3. Jamie Coward Craven Norton 107.091mph
4. Ian Lougher Flitwick Royal Enfield 106.764mph
5. Roy Richardson FCL Bullock Aermacchi 106.619mph
6. James Hillier CSC Honda 101.031mph