Dream comes true for Mr Todd; 120mph Crowes double up at TT.

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Thursday morning brought a blue sky with some high cloud moving across; but the temperature was below average. With the promise of afternoon rain to come; the Clerk of the Course cancelled the shakedown lap for solos and moved the start of the Sidecar Race 2 forward. In this Ryan and Callum Crowe had taken command with a rapid start.  Lee Crawford / Scott Hardie; Peter Founds / Jevan Walmsley and Greg Lambert / Andrew Haynes had retired before a machine had reached Ramsey.  Ben Birchall / Kevin Rousseau were first to Ramsey and very rapid. Then it was the race leaders who were superb through Schoolhouse Corner. It was good to see Dave Molyneux / Jake Roberts going rapidly after all of their practice woes. World Champions Todd Ellis and Emmanuelle Clement were in third on corrected time when they came through Schoolhouse. In my long lens it could be seen that the sidecar wheel had kissed the kerb on the inside. A minute later the red flag came out due them having an incident at Waterworks. The outfit and air fence blocked the road leaving no alternative but to stop proceedings. I cannot help wondering if touching the kerb may have caused a slow puncture; leading to the accident. Thankfully; Todd and Emmanuelle were perfectly okay and back at the Grandstand they confirmed that they will return next year.

Another rejig to the schedule meant that the Superstock Race 1 would be next on track. This race proved to be absolutely enthralling and simply flew past. The track was not completely dry; but the couple of damp areas were well known to the riders. The pace was furious and at the first timing point it was clear that tiny margins would decide a fearlessly contested race. Davey Todd had the Milwaukee BMW in P1 as they swept past the Glen Helen entrance on lap 1. Just 1.976s covered the top 4; Michael Dunlop was second on the MD Fireblade; Peter Hickman third on the FHO BMW; with Dean Harrison fourth on the Honda Racing Fireblade. James Hillier and Jamie Coward completed the top 6.

At Ballaugh, 2.6s covered the top 4; with Todd the leader from Hickman. The rejuvenated John McGuinness was first to Schoolhouse Corner on the Honda Fireblade; he was rapid through the left hand bend. Jamie Coward was next on the KTS Honda; then a very fast Dean Harrison. James Hillier (WTF Honda) and Michael Dunlop (MD Racing Honda) were next and held tight lines through the bend. After Hutchy (Padgetts Honda); it was Davey Todd and Peter Hickman; they were superb; rapid and using more road than Dunlop and Hillier. For the spectators at Schoolhouse the riders gave some superb action. The timing beam ½ mile up the road showed that Todd led by 0.6s from Hickman, with Harrison and Dunlop virtually inseparable 3s back. Coward’s transponder was proving problematic; his position having to be calculated the old fashioned way.

Hickman was fastest up the mountain; Todd the quickest down it. A lap at 133.362mph gave Todd a lead of 1.72s as he came into pit lane for the mandatory stop. Dunlop and Harrison both lapped at over 132mph to be 3rd and 4th respectively. Coward in 5th and Hillier in 6th both lapped at over 131mph. The pit lane saw no drama today; Todd’s was the fastest and this gave him a lead of 4.766s at Glen Helen. Hickman was on a charge; he took nearly 2s out of the lead on the run to Ballaugh. There was again superb action at Schoolhouse, where both Harrison and Todd had to roll the throttle on the exit as they ran a tad wide. Hickman was superb; rapid and bang on the perfect line. The watch showed the lead for Todd was 2.4s; with Hickman 4.64s ahead of Dunlop and Harrison a similar distance behind Dunlop. We had a few bikes in the bus stop at Schoolhouse; the widest of all being Amalric Blanc.

Hickman was again fastest up the mountain; his bike is a missile out of the Gooseneck; but Todd was again the fastest down it. The lead was 2.57s as Todd set off on the only flying lap of the race. Hickman was 7.16s ahead of Dunlop. Harrison; Hillier and John McGuinness completed the top 6 on the timing screen.

Hickman averaged over 140mph on the run to Glen Helen to cut the lead to 2.37s with 28 miles of racing left. Another sector best of over 150mph allowed Hickman to cut the lead to 0.54s at Ballaugh. At Schoolhouse they were all pushing hard and giving a superb show to the enthusiasts gathered there. At White Gates; with 13.73 miles to go; Todd led by 1.127s having set a sector record into Ramsey. Dunlop was third, 12.5s down on Hickman and 4.5s ahead of Harrison. Hickman set the best time up the mountain; Todd returned serve going down it.

A final lap at 135.092mph gave Davey Todd his first TT victory; after a race that will live long in the memory banks of those lucky enough to witness the race. His race average was 132.699mph. Hickman’s last lap was the fastest of the race at 135.140mph; for a race average of 132.604mph. Dunlop took the final podium place; he was 3.609s ahead of Harrison; they both lapped at over 132mph on the last lap. James Hillier took 5th after another fine ride. John McGuinness lapped at 132.037mph on the final lap to secure 6th by 5.47s from Conor Cummins on the Padgetts Milenco Honda. Dominic Herbertson, Mike Browne (again just short of the first 130mph lap by an Aprilia) and Josh Brookes completed the top 10.

Davey Todd said this was a dream come true and that he was grateful for all of the support he had received from his team; sponsors; friends, family and his army of fans. Hickman was generous in his praise for Todd whom he recognised as rapidly rising talent. Round 2 should be special; weather permitting.

The Sidecars then returned to the track minus Peter Founds / Jevan Walmsley; their machine was beyond repair after the engine blow up at Kirk Michael in the first outing. It was déjà vu as the Crowe brothers (Kelproperties Honda) blitzed the first sector to Glen Helen to lead by 4.72s from Ben Birchall / Kevin Rousseau (Wyckham Blackwell Honda). Lewis Blackstock / Patrick Rosney (Dave Holden Yamaha) held third. Lee Crawford / Scott Hardie   (ARC Kawasaki) were 4th; Alan Founds / Rhys Gibbons held 5th with Dave Molyneux / Jake Roberts (DMT Kawasaki) in 6th. Founds was black flagged at Sulby to have the machine checked; something that he was not best pleased with; even if the time taken was credited to him.

Birchall / Rousseau were first to Ramsey and were rapid. The Crowe bothers also superb and as they powered away, they led by 7.37s. Blackstock / Rosney remained in 3rd but were just 0.94s ahead of Molyneux / Roberts. The Crowe brothers gained just 0.6s on the mountain climb. Behind then a rapid climb had allowed Molyneux / Roberts to move into third. An opening lap at 119.0.92mph gave the Crowes a lead of 9.0.21s going into the final lap. Birchall / Rousseau had an advantage over Molyneux / Roberts of 35.344s. Blackstock / Rosney were 3.715s behind Molyneux / Roberts; whilst Founds / Gibbons were a mere 0.311s further back.

The Crowe brothers were in no mood to race to their boards and were on 120mph pace as they arrived at Glen Helen with a lead of 13.18s. At Ballaugh the lead was up 15.205mph and they would be able to see Birchall / Rousseau on the long straights. At Ramsey the gap was about 150m as they came out of Schoolhouse to rapturous applause. It was déjà vu as Molyneux / Roberts came into the town; the crowd delighted to see the old master and his young apprentice in a podium position. The Crowe brothers caught Birchall / Rousseau on the mountain and rather than settling in behind, they powered past and stayed on 120mph pace. A stunning lap at 120.335mph gave them victory by 20.491s. Molyneux / Roberts broke their run of bad luck to secure third by 6.88s from Founds / Gibbons. Blackstock / Rosney took 5th; Steve and Matty Ramsden securing 6th on their LCR Honda. Renzo and Vale van Der Donckt lapped at over 107mph and finished 13th to cap a fine debut. The reception that the Crowe bothers received from the crowd at the Grandstand was at least equalled by that for 17 times winner Molyneux and first time podium finisher Roberts. Rousseau also had quite a tale to tell; in his second TT he was upside down at the Mountain Box in practice week; but has now lapped at over 119mph and been on the second step of the podium; next year he and Ben will be eager for the top one.

With Dave Molyneux, John Holden and Conrad Harrison retiring from the event; we need some more new names to enter the fray; or the class will wither and die; leaving us without a great spectacle.