Saturday brought us warm sunshine; a slight breeze and dry roads. The schedule was packed and began with practice for all classes except for the Senior Classic and Lightweight Classic machine scheduled to race today. The practice was very well attended; with the main talking point being Nathan Harrison’s lap in the Junior MGP at 120.674mph that put him top of the leader board. Stephen Parsons also lapped at over 120mph; this class is shaping up to give us some very close racing next week.
Once this was over we moved onto the first race of the day; the Bennett’s Senior Classic TT. John McGuinness led the field away; followed by Stefano Bonetti who was promoted to number 2 to replace the injured Dean Harrison. These two set a hot pace; McGuinness led 6s from Bonetti at Glen Helen with Jamie Coward third. The lead was 7s at Ballaugh; with Bonetti 14s ahead of Coward. McGuinness and Saiger had just passed our vantage at White Gates in Ramsey when the dreaded red flag appeared. It was announced shortly afterwards that it was due to an incident at Ballaugh.
The riders out on the course were eventually brought back to the Grandstand to prepare for a restart over 3 laps rather than the original 4 laps distance. The Lightweight was similarly to be reduced to 3 laps. The second running saw McGuinness lead by 6s at Glen Helen from Bonetti; with Maria Costello, completing a Paton clean sweep, 6s behind Bonetti. Coward, Alan Oversby and Derek Sheils filled out the early leader board. McGuinness eased away from Bonetti; the lead was 9s at Ballaugh and 11s as they swept right and then left through our new position at Parliament Square. Costello was third; but just 1.5s ahead of Coward; who had a 9s advantage over Sheils. McGuinness completed the first lap at 111.679mph to lead by 17.28s from Bonetti (110.114mph); with Costello third 24.7s down on Bonetti. Coward was 0.978s behind Costello in 4th; Alan Oversby was 5th and Michael Rutter was 6thth and none the worse from tipping off at Sarah’s in the earlier practice.
McGuinness had stretched his lead to 20sat Glen Helen; Bonetti was similarly pulling away from Costello who was now 28s further back. Coward was 2.9s down on Costello; but he had cut that to 0.6s at Ballaugh. As the gorgeous sounding Patons charged through Ramsey to face the mountain climb for the second time, McGuinness led by 21s. Bonetti almost matched McGuinness on the mountain climb; behind him Coward had moved ahead of Costello. A lap at 111.590mph gave McGuinness a lead of 24.28s as he charged towards Bray Hill for the final time. Bonetti lapped at 110.952mph, Coward at 109.145mph and Costello at 108.302mph. Derek Sheils relinquished his 6th place; albeit briefly; when he had to enter the pits for a fuel top up.
McGuinness was in total control and ran at Bonetti’s pace for the final lap to come home the victor by 27.8s from Bonetti; who secured his first Mountain Course podium finish. For Team Winfield it was their fourth straight victory in the race. Jamie Coward secured 3rd; he was 13.1s ahead of Costello. Oversby and Sheils completed the final leader board.
Bennett’s Senior Classic TT
- John McGuinness Winfield Paton 111.236mph
- Stefano Bonetti Speed Motor Paton 110.398mph
- Jamie Coward Craven Manx Norton 108.527mph
- Maria Costello Beugger Paton 108.150mph
- Alan Oversby Ireland Honda 107.368mph
- Derek Sheils Greenall Honda 105.833mph