Following a superb parade of star riders including Freddie Spencer; Steve Baker, John McGuinness, Steve Plater, Kel Carruthers, Phil Read, Mick Grant, Phillip McCallen, Chas Mortimer and many more the afternoon brought three races in one; with the majority of the fans’ attention focused on the Formula 1 event. The conditions were excellent; roads were dry, there was little wind and a clear blue sky.
Michael Dunlop was the race favourite having lapped at over124mph in practice and it was he who grabbed the early initiative. At Glen Helen he was already 8.75s in the lead on corrected time from team mate Conor Cummins, with Yamaha mounted Gary Johnson third. At White Gates, Dunlop was first to burst into view from the tricky, bumpy lefthander at Cruickshanks and he was absolutely flying as he pitched the 1100cc Suzuki into the left hand bend and then powered away to Stella Maris and Ramsey Hairpin. He was well clear on the roads from Steve Mercer (750 Yamaha) and James Hillier (750 Honda). John Barton was going well on his 750 Kawasaki, as was Gary Johnson (1250 Harris). The action was excellent for the spectators gathered at the track side in the warm afternoon sun. When the dust had settled our watch suggested that Dunlop led by 19.6s from Cummins; Gary Johnson was 8.3s down on Cummins, with Steve Mercer just 2.6s further back. Jamie Coward held fifth and Ryan Kneen sixth; just 0.5s separated them.
Dunlop edged further ahead on the mountain section; his opening lap at 123.678mph giving him a lead of 33.8s from Cummins (1119.986mph). Johnson was third 8.5s down on Cummins; Mercer, Kneen and Coward filled up the leader board.
Dunlop had added another 7s to his lead when he charged past commentator Dave Christian at Glen Helen. Cummins had also strengthened his grip on second taking over 4s out of Johnson. At White gates Dunlop had edged his lead out to 47.5s; but from Ballaugh Cummins had just about matched his pace. At Ramsey hairpin, commentator Roy Moore suggested that Dunlop may be having a clutch problem. His assumption proved to be correct; the clutch had gone and Dunlop was covered in oil. He rode less aggressively to try to ensure that the machine made it to the finish. Despite his he still lapped at 123.197mph, to lead by 55.4s as he entered the pits for fuel. Cummins became the second rider to lap at over 120mph on a classic machine; his second lap being 120.816mph. Mercer was now up to third, Kneen, Coward and Barton completed the top six. Johnson limped into the pits in seventh, but sadly, his race was over.
A slicker pit stop routine helped Cummins to cut the lead to 47.4s as they weaved their way past the Glen Helen Hotel. The other leader board positions were unchanged; but seventh placed Mark Miller had taken over 10s out of Coward and Barton. Dunlop appeared untroubled as he swept past us for the third time, the big Suzuki sounding superb when he opened the taps. Cummins was similarly impressive as he began to climb the mountain for the third time. Ryan Kneen was on a charge and he had snatched third from Mercer as they passed us to tackle Stella Maris. Coward failed to make it to Ramsey; his demise promoting the hard riding Miller to sixth.
As the riders powered away from the Grandstand to face Bray Hill for the final time Dunlop led by one minute from Cummins; who was in turn 49s ahead of Ryan Kneen. Mercer, Barton and Miller completed the top six. It was as you were at Glen Helen and Ballaugh, but Mercer was chipping away at Kneen’s advantage over him. All took White Gates impressively; but for Mercer the race ended at Ramsey Hairpin where a dial that had worked loose jammed the front wheel causing him to have a very low speed off. He found that his boot was covered in oil and metal fragments; the off perhaps saving from an major engine blow up. His ill luck moved Russ Mountford up to the final leader board placing.
The leaders had no more dramas on the mountain section and Michael Dunlop duly took a popular and well deserved win at a record speed. Cummins took second and recorded another 120mph+ lap on the final tour. Daniel Sayle showed how good a solo rider he is to be the best privateer in seventh overall. Former MGP, TT and Two Days Trial winner Nick Jefferies took twelfth on his return to the circuit; not bad for someone the wrong side of 60.
Motorsport Merchandise Formula 1 Classic TT
1. Michael Dunlop 1100 Team Classic Suzuki 120.367mph
2. Conor Cummins 750 Team Classic Suzuki 118.790mph
3. Ryan Kneen 750 DMR Yamaha 117.105mph
4. John Barton 750 Wemoto Kawasaki 114.272mph
5. Mark Miller 750 Classic Racing Team Yamaha 113.388mph
6. Russ Mountford 1000 York Suzuki 112.788mph
Chris Palmer led the field away in the Formula 2 Race. He led on the road and time at Glen Helen; where his advantage over Phil McGurk was 3.77s, James Cowton held third place. For Roy Richardson, who was expected to be a strong contender, the bad luck continued; he did not reach the first commentary point. At White Gates, Palmer was rapid on rob Brew’s Yamaha. Cowton and McGurk were also going very rapidly as they swept through the corner. Palmer led by 4.4s from McGurk, with Cowton 4.9s further back. At the end of the lap Palmer led by 6.4s; his average speed being 110.416mph.
At Glen Helen on lap 2 Palmer continued to lead; but it was from Cowton; who was the fastest of all on the run from the Grandstand and was now just 4.5s down on the leader. McGurk was in turn 5.35s behind Cowton. Cowton continued to set the best sector times and by White Gates had cut Palmer’s lead to just 0.5s; whilst leaving McGurk 13.3s in arrears. By the end of the lap Cowton had stolen a slender advantage of 2.3s; slick pit stops would be vital. Palmer was back on track without a problem; but for Cowton things did not go so well; the machine took what seemed to be an age to fire up again: the pendulum had swung Palmer’s way.
The effect revealed itself at Glen Helen where Palmer led by 10.5s from Cowton, who now had 55s in hand over McGurk. This proved to be decisive; Palmer kept up his pace and his lead to secure his second win of the day. Cowton took a great second place in only his second year at the event, with McGurk third.
Motorsport Merchandise Formula 2 Classic TT
1. Chris Palmer Brew Yamaha 109.944mph
2. James Cowton Berwick Yamaha 109.701mph
3. Phil McGurk Springcourt Yamaha 108.121mph
The Formula Classic Race had a low number of entries but gave us a good fight for the laurel wreath between Dean Harrison and Gavin Lupton. Harrison led at Glen Helen and edged away from Lupton to lead by 8.5s as the triples howled us for the first time. Harrison led by 5.33s at the end of lap 1; both having lapped at over 105mph. Harrison then piled on the coals to lead 19.4s as they began the ascent of North Barrule for the second time. Lupton was quickest over the mountain, cutting the lead to 15.4s as Harrison entered the pits for fuel. Lupton continued straight on and took over the lead. Events were evened out when he came into the pits at the end of the third lap for his own splash and dash.
At Glen Helen on the final lap Harrison led by 19.5s, but was having to hold the fuel tank on with his knees – a la Joey Dunlop 1980. At Ballaugh the lead was 16s and at White Gates it was down to 9.1s. Lupton, now riding in tandem with third placed Chris McGahan was hunting Harrison down. At The Bungalow Harrison’s lead had diminished to just 1.46s. At Cronk ny Mona the clock showed Lupton to be leading for the first time; by 2.019s with little over a mile to the finish; victory seemed assured. Lupton had his own worries; oil had been leaking onto his boots for some; accordingly he decided not to risk binning the bike and eased off slightly. This gave Harrison the break that he needed and he crossed the line to win by 0.174s. McGahan duly took third, 20.3s down on Lupton.
Motorsport Merchandise Formula Classic Race
1. Dean Harrison Porter BSA 102.778mph
2. Gavin Lupton 3D Triumph 102.774mph
3. Chris McGahan Atherstone Triumph 102.386mph