The first day of racing at the IOM Steam Packet Southern 100 race meeting brought something not seen for 7 weeks; rain. We had a shower before road closing; then one just as the practice session for non-qualifiers kicked off. The roads dried quickly during the 250/650 and Sidecar sessions and they were dry as the competitors for the Corlett’s Trophies 600 / 1000cc left for the sighting lap. No sooner had they left the holding area than the rain came down again; we rushed for shower jackets and the competitors paddled around on the newly wet track. Superbikes; slick tyres and a wet road are not a good recipe; accordingly the bikes were sent back to the paddock to give riders the option of changing tyres.
The shower was over in a few minutes and the heat in the road meant that it began to dry. After about 15 minutes the bikes left the holding area and went around the track ready for the off. One notable absentee was 2017 Champion; Dean Harrison for whom the conditions were too risky. I have to confess that I would have done exactly.
Time constraints reduced the race distance to 5 laps; but this did not detract from what was a very competitive race. Fastest away from the lights were Ivan Lintin and last year’s double MGP winner Mikey Evans. Lintin led at Cross Four Ways on the opening lap and it was he who led by a couple of metres as they heeled into Castletown Corner for the first time. They were over 1s ahead of the chasing group of whom Rob Hodson; was notably the only rider to risk having a set of slick tyres. The leading 600cc machines were those of Jamie Coward and Joey Thompson.
Lap 2 saw Lintin holding tiny advantage over Evans; with newcomer Davey Todd in 3rd position ahead of Hodson, Cowton and the soon to retire McLean. In the 600cc class Coward had increased his lead over Thompson to 6.2s. On the third lap it was Evans edged ahead of Lintin; he led by 5 metres as they powered away down the bypass; Todd was closer to them than on lap 2 and was in turn 1s ahead of Hodson. Cowton remained in 5th; with Jamie Coward in 6th overall and retaining his lead in the 600cc class.
On lap 4 it had tightened up at the front, Lintin led from Evans, Hodson was up to third, Todd was 4th; Cowton 5th; with just 20m covering all 5 as they charged away to begin the final lap. Tyre choice became the deciding factor as they slicks came into their own on the now almost entirely dry track. What had been a tight bunch fractured; Hodson had taken a decisive lead as he went into Cross Four Ways for the final time. At Castletown Corner he had 2.2s in hand over Todd, who had forced his intermediate shod Burrows Suzuki ahead of the wet shod BMW of Evans. Cowton had grabbed 4th from the similar Kawasaki of Lintin; whilst Coward took 6th overall and a comfortable victory in the 600cc class. Thompson took 2nd in the 600cc class; with veteran Tim Poole back on the podium 30 years after making his debut.
Corlett’s Trophies 600cc / 1000cc Race A
- Rob Hodson 1000 BMW 103.758mph
- Davey Todd 1000 Burrows Suzuki 103.327mph
- Michael Evans 1000 Wilcock BMW 103.197mph
- James Cowton 1000 McAdoo Kawasaki 103.137mph
- Ivan Lintin 1000 Dafabet Kawasaki 103.061mph
- Jamie Coward 600 Yamaha 101.305mph
Following this we had a frenetic B Race for those who did not qualify for the opener. This race gave us some fine entertainment with close battles throughout the field. Paul Gartland and newcomer Barry Furber were fastest out of the traps and had opened an advantage of 4.8s over the pursuers as they crossed the railway bridge for the first time. These two battled throughout the race; with Gartland finally getting the decision by just 0.121s; Furber having the consolation of setting the fastest lap. Dennis Booth had a lonely ride in 3rd; behind him leading 600cc rider Steven Haddow edged fellow newcomer Sean Haddon out of 5th by 0.43s. Eric Wilson; another of the multitude of newcomers used the superior speed of his big BMW to secure 6th from Dave Quine; second of the 600ccc machines.
Corlett’s Trophies 600 / 1000 Race B
- Paul Gartland 1000 NWG Kawasaki 99.939mph
- Barry Furber 1000 Kawasaki 99.923mph
- Dennis Booth 1000 BMW 96.677mph
In the gathering gloom, the final race of the evening, the Station Garage 125cc / 400cc Race fired up. This race once again featured several tight duels; most notably at the sharp end; the race being settled by just 0.02s; giving us the 6th closest finish in the 63 years history of the Southern 100.
Adrian Kerhsaw and fellow Kawasaki rider Mick Goodings reacted fastest to the lights and they were the first into Castletown Corner on lap 1, Kershaw leading by 5m. Gooding’s machine was faster than Kershaw; this allowed him to take the lead as they powered along the bypass to begin their second lap. 4s behind the leaders was a group that contained Rad Hughes, Dan Sayle, Paul Gartland and Vic Allan.
On lap 2 Goodings led at Castletown Corner; with Kershaw tucked in closely behind. Gartland was in the 3rd place that he would hold to the finish. Sayle, Hughes and Allan filled out the leader board. Goodings led for lap 3; but on lap 4 Kershaw out-braked him coming into Castletown Corner and led as they rounded the tight turn. The lead was short-lived; Goodings used his machine’s superior speed to retake the lead as they raced towards Ballakeighan for the final time.
Kerhsaw’s rehearsal on lap 4 was put to good effect; he repeated the feat on lap 5; cutting up the inside and giving it full throttle on the exit. His strategy worked perfectly; the line coming just too late for Goodings’ superior speed to put his nose in front. It was the reverse for Hughes; he was able to edge past Sayle on the run to the finish to grab 4th.
Station Garage 125cc / 400cc Race
- Adrian Kershaw 400 Kawasaki 92.756mph
- Mick Goodings 400 Kawasaki 92.753mph
- Paul Gartland 400 Honda 90.777mph
- Rad Hughes 400 Kawasaki 90.560mph
- Dan Sayle 250 Honda 90.550mph
- Vic Allan 398 Kawasaki 89.492mph