Record book shredded at Southern 100.
Wednesday evening’s racing at the 2017 S 100 provided compelling; record setting racing in just about perfect conditions. The first race on the programme was the Ellan Vannin Fuels Senior Race for 1000cc machines. Dean Harrison was a notable non-starter; his machine suffering from a rectifier problem. Quickest away from the lights were Michael Dunlop and Dan Kneen and they were first into Ballabeg; with Dunlop about 5m ahead of Kneen. They had pulled out over 1s on the large chasing pack that included Ivan Lintin, Jamie Coward, James Cowton; Rob Hodson and Sam West.
On lap 2 Dunlop led Kneen by 0.5s as they powered away down Duck Street for the second time. They had pulled nearly3s ahead of Jamie Coward who had lost time due a slow start that kept in the pack for most of the first lap. Now clear of the pack he was able to pull away; but could not close the gap on the leading duo. The pace was as hot as the weather as Dunlop and Kneen fought for victory. Dunlop was 0.6s ahead of Kneen on lap 3; they were now on lap record pace and 5s clear of Coward. Behind Coward, Lintin and Cowton were having a very close personal duel for 4th and 5th positions. Behind them Rob Hodson and newcomer Sam West were scrapping over 6th place.
On lap 4 Dunlop was just 5m ahead as the machines tried to snap away as they braked heavily over the bumps before heeling into the hairpin bend. On lap 5 Keen was, if anything, slightly closer to Dunlop as they increased the lap record to over 114mph. Coward was well clear in 3rd; behind him the close battles between Lintin / Cowton and Hodson / West were providing excellent entertainment for the he crowds gathered around the circuit. Lap 5 saw the lead down just the length of a bike as Kneen hunted down Dunlop. Coward was safe in third; but Cowton had managed to edge past Lintin to hold 4th; but by just inches, as they rounded the hairpin and powered away towards Ballawhetstone.
Kneen continued to harry Dunlop; but could never quite put himself into a position to make a move on his rival; despite setting a new lap record of 114.170mph on the 5th lap. Dunlop responded to the challenge and on the final lap he secured his win by increasing that record to 114.173mph; both he and Kneen were well inside the old race record. He was delighted to secure the win; stating that his machine was again slightly down on grunt. Kneen was equally delighted with his performance and confident that with some tweaks he could do even better next time out. Coward bemoaned not being able to get away with the front two; as he felt that he could have matched their pace had he been with them.
Newcomers Sam West and Derek McGee produced superb rides to finish 7th and 10th respectively; both having lapped at over 109mph; amazing after so little track time.
Ellan Vannin Fuels Senior Race
- Michael Dunlop Bennett’s Suzuki 112.925mph
- Dan Kneen Penz 13 BMW 112.903mph
- Jamie Coward Radcliffe’s BMW 111.056mph
- James Cowton McAdoo Kawasaki 110.283mph
- Ivan Lintin R C Express Kawasaki 110.206mph
- Rob Hodson BMW 107.496mph
The next race was the Mike Kerruish plumbing 250/650cc Race. The race had a large number of starters and gave the crowd some great racing to watch; with close battles raging throughout the race. James Cowton was the fastest away from the lights and he led Ivan Lintin by 2m as they took the hairpin for the first time. Behind them came Derek McGee, Rob Hodson, Joey Thompson, Jonathan Perry, Dave Moffitt and Rhys Hardisty; who retired on lap 3. At the end of the lap Cowton led from Lintin; McGee, Hodson, Thompson and Perry completed the leader board. Cowton led by 1m at Ballabeg on lap 2; he also led at Cross four Ways; but by the end of the lap Lintin had the R C Express machine in front. On lap 3 Lintin led by 2m as they took a wide line around the hairpin and accelerated away on the booming twins. They were on lap record pace and pulling well clear of McGee and Hodson who were 3.5s clear of Thompson. Cowton set new lap record at 104.718mph; quite simply amazing.
The lead was unchanged on lap 4; but there was a change in the order behind, with Hodson having passed McGee. Lintin’s lead was again wafer thin on lap 5 at Ballabeg where McGee dived up the inside of Hodson to retake 3rd. Thompson had increased has pace and had closed to within 2s of Hodson. Crossing the line to begin the final lap Lintin led by 0.15s. There were no fireworks at Ballabeg where Lintin led by 5m from Cowton. McGee pulled into the slip road to retire; Thompson had passed a surprised Hodson to briefly take third. Being passed gave Hodson a wakeup call; he duly responded and took the final podium place. Thompson took a fine 4th on the two stroke machine; Perry and Moffitt filled out the final leader board.
The race record average was pulverized; being raised by 1.12mph. Lintin was delighted to win and enjoyed his battle with James. Cowton was similarly pleased with his ride on a bike that is still in the early stages of its development. His had better top speed; but that came at the cost of being slower out of the corners. Both said they had changes to make before the second race; it should be interesting.
Mike Kerruish Plumbing 250/600cc Race
- Ivan Lintin R C Express Kawasaki 103.359mph
- James Cowton McAdoo Kawasaki 103.320mph
- Rob Hodson Kawasaki 100.014mph
- Joey Thompson Yamaha 99.975mph
- Jonathan Perry Kawasaki 97.937mph
- Dave Moffitt Suzuki 97.604mph
Next was the race that was expected to be the highlight of the evening; it most certainly did not disappoint; as yet again the lap and race records were blown into the weeds. James Cowton was again the quickest to react to the start lights and he led the charge into Ballabeg by inches from Dean Harrison and Michael Dunlop. Joey Thompson, Jamie Coward, Ivan Lintin, Michael Evans and Dean Osborne were noted as being at the head of the scrum that was spread right across the track as the riders scrabbled for position. Cowton’s lead proved short-lived as he was passed going into Cross Four Ways by Harrison. At the end of the lap Harrison led by 0.7s from Cowton with Dunlop an identical distance behind Cowton. Thompson, Coward and Lintin completed the early leader board. On lap 2 at Ballabeg, the leading trio were in line astern and pulling away from the rest of the field. The next change came at Cross Four Ways where Coward forced his way past Thompson to take 4th.
On lap 3 Harrison and Cowton had opened a gap of 10m over Dunlop; who was clearly trying as he brushed his shoulder against the wall on the inside of the bend.
The picture was essentially the same on lap 4 with the top three circulating at lap record pace and edging ever further away from Coward. There was a minor incident when Rhys Hardisty came in too hot and lost the front end of the Yamaha as he tipped into the corner; thankfully only his pride was injured. Harrison still had his tiny advantage on lap 5; with Dunlop seemingly unable to close the 10m buffer that Cowton had over him. Behind them Coward was well clear of the battle for 5th; in which Lintin overtook Thompson coming into Ballabeg. The picture was the same on the penultimate lap and as they began the final lap Harrison led by 0.2s; with Dunlop a further 0.7s behind Cowton.
On the final lap at Ballabeg, Harrison led by 5m from Cowton; with Dunlop 0.6s behind and trying hard. There was no change at Cross Four Ways and with the aid of the fastest lap of the race at 110.782mph Harrison was able a secure a record breaking win by 0.772s. Dunlop was also rapid on the last lap; his speed of 110.568mph allowing him to close to just 0.145s behind Cowton. The riders said that they enjoyed the race and all had minor tweaks to make that they thought would enable them to up the pace even more in Thursday’s re-run.
Radcliffe Butchers’ 600cc Race
- Dean Harrison Silicone Kawasaki 108.624mph
- James Cowton McAdoo Kawasaki 108.539mph
- Michael Dunlop M D Yamaha 108.523mph
- Jamie Coward Radcliffe’s Honda 107.725mph
- Joey Thompson ILR Kawasaki 106.124mph
- Ivan Lintin R C Express Kawasaki 106.068mph
The final race of the evening was the first of the Sidecar races. This promised to be a real cracker with the four crews who starred in last year’s amazing Championship race being on the grid and all capable of lapping at over 100mph. The start would of vital importance as it was so difficult to pass on the back of the circuit. Pole sitter Dave Molyneux did not have the start that he wanted; Tim Reeves was fastest away from the lights. Approaching Ballabeg for the first time Reeves led by 5m from Ben Birchall; with John Holden right behind. Some paint may have been exchanged as Holden’s late braking saw him smoking the tyres and closing right up to Birchall’s outfit. Molyneux was next; he was 0.7s down on Holden; but neat and fast around the tight corner. Conrad Harrison and Tony Baker were next and as neither blinked they took the corner side by side.
On lap 2 Reeves had increased his lead to about 10m from Birchall and Holden. Molyneux remained in third and was clearly on a mission. He duly recorded a 100mph lap; but then blotted his copybook by overshooting at Ballakeighan and losing some time. His night worsened when he was forced to retire on lap 3; as was Tony Baker. On track the leading 3 were flying as they circulated just a machine’s length apart from each other; providing a wonderful spectacle for the crowds. All lapped at over 100mph; with Reeves the best at 100.751mph.
On lap 4 the gaps between the leading three were slightly larger; behind them Conrad Harrison was under pressure from Wayne Lockey. On lap 5 the race took a twist when Reeves was forced to retire just beyond Cross Four Ways. His bad luck left Birchall with a relatively comfortable lead from Holden. The Harrison / Lockey battle was hard fought and nearly ended badly on the final lap at Ballabeg. Harrison tried to dive into a rapidly closing gap up the inside and how a collision was avoided no one is quite sure; but there screams from some of the crowd when one seemed inevitable. Birchall duly took the victory and consigned to history Nick Crowe’s superb race record from 2007.
Ace Hire & Sales Sidecar Race
- Ben / Tom Birchall LCR Honda 99.574mph
- John Holden / Lee Cain LCR Honda 98.998mph
- Wayne Lockey / Mark Sayers Ireson Honda 94.599mph
- Conrad Harrison / Andy Winkle Bellas Honda 94.575mph
- Dan knight / Matthew Rostron LCR Suzuki 92.632mph
- Steve / Matty Ramsden LCR Honda 92.580mph