The weather once again played havoc with the schedule at the 2018 Festival of Motorcycling. After a series of delays and several rehashes of the race and practice schedules we finally saw some action when the Classic TT Junior Race fired into life at 4pm. The time lost meant that this race was cut to 3 laps from 4 and that the MGP Newcomers Race would have to be held over until Tuesday. The cut to 3 laps meant that the race would be decided purely on the track and not be won due to time won or lost in the pits.

The abridged practice that the weather allowed meant that there were a high number of non-starters.

A race that had its fair share of twists in the plot eventually saw Dominic Herbertson secure his first Mountain Course win. After the race the Newcastle based rider, riding a Davies Motorsport Honda, told interviewer Chris Kinley what the race win meant to him.

“It’s a feeling like no other. It means everything to me. I’ve worked really hard and this feeling is not going to go away any time soon. I can’t believe this is happening. You don’t just need talent but loads of luck with Classic racing.”

The practice leader board had been topped by Jamie Coward, on the Ted Woof/ Craven Honda; he and Herbertson were the only riders to lap at over 100mph. Ripley Land Racing Honda rider Michael Rutter and Herbertson’s teammate Alan Oversby were the third and fourth fastest qualifiers despite completing just a single qualifying lap each.

Daniel Cooper led the field away; followed 10s later by Alan Oversby. The marginal pre-race favourite was Michael Rutter, who won this race in 2017. He established an early lead of 0.5s over Jamie Coward, who finished third in 2017, at the first timing point at Glen Helen. Coward was 3s clear of Dominic Herbertson, Hefyn Owen was 5s down on Herbertson and Oversby completed the top five; he was 1s down on Owen.  Chris Swallow’s PKP/ Bladon Enterprises Hall Green Velocette was the first non-Honda in eleventh place.

Jamie Coward.

Rutter began to edge away from the chasing pack; he led by 1s at Ballaugh and had increased it to 4.2s as he came into Parliament Square in Ramsey for the first time. Coward was 4.9s ahead of Herbertson; Owen was 4th; whilst Lee Johnston, who finished runner up to Rutter on a Black Eagle Racing MV Agusta in 2017 and won the race in 2014, had moved into the top five ahead of his teammate Oversby.

Rutter and Coward were just a few metres apart as they crossed the line to complete their first lap. Coward lapped at 101.658mph, but Rutter’s lap of 102.416mph gave him an advantage of 9.63s over Coward. However, it was not Coward who was now second in the race; Herbertson had lapped at 101.678mph to be 0.254s ahead of Coward from whom he took over two seconds on the short dash from Cronk Ny Mona to the Grandstand.

The leading three had already established a healthy lead of over thirty seconds from Davies Motorsport teammates Oversby and Johnston. Hefyn Owen’s race ended on the Mountain Mile; his demise promoting Daniel Cooper to 6th.

At Glen Helen on the second lap Rutter led by 9s from Herbertson; with Coward just 0.3s in arrears. These three had pulled away from the rest of the field, the gap between Coward and Johnston was 47s. Johnston and Oversby were swapping places for fun – Oversby was ahead at the Grandstand, Johnston back in front by 0.1s at Glen Helen, Oversby in front again at Ballaugh.

Rutter’s lead was down to 5s at Parliament Square; did he have a problem or was it simply that Herbertson had pulled the pin?  Although Rutter led on the road at The Bungalow Herbertson had torn away a large part of his lead – the gap was down to just 1.7 seconds. At Cronk ny Mona the lead had changed hands; Herbertson led by 4s.

Lee Johnston.

The reason for the shift in power became clear when Michael Rutter was reported to have a punctured rear tyre at Governors.  His misfortune meant that Herbertson, with a second lap of 104.082mph, led by 14.36s from new second placed man Coward, who had lapped at 102.968mph. Oversby was leading the private Davies Motorsport battle for the final podium place by 3.75s from Lee Johnston 9as they began their final lap. Dan Cooper moved into the top five following Rutter’s retirement; with Peter Boast taking the final leader board position.

Herbertson led by 13.4s at Glen Helen; by 11.3s at Ballaugh, by 10.1s at Parliament Square and 9s at the Bungalow. Herbertson had everything under control and duly clinched his maiden Mountain Course race win with a final lap of 103.640mph from Coward (103.984mph) by 10.03s.Behind them, Johnston had moved into third at Ramsey, 0.73s ahead of Oversby. The Northern Ireland rider secured the final podium place with a last lap of 101.119mph compared to Oversby’s lap speed of 99.623mph. Cooper took a fine 5th with Adam McLean passing the slowing Boast to take the final leader board place.

Jeff Ward, who finished 21st, received the Phil Read trophy for the highest placed 250cc machine in the race.

Jeff Ward. Junior Classic Race

  1. Dominic Herbertson Davies Honda                    122mph
  2. Jamie Coward Craven Honda                   861mph
  3. Lee Johnston Davies Honda                    031mph
  4. Alan Oversby Davies Honda                    629mph
  5. Daniel Cooper CSC Honda                          448mph
  6. Adam McLean Ripley Land AJS                 081mph