The 2019 Southern 100 meeting gave us 14 races and enough drama to last for a considerable time. At the end of practice the usual suspects were at the top of the lap charts; Dean Harrison in the 100cc and 600c classes, Jamie Coward in the 650cc and Tim Reeves / Mark Wilkes in the Sidecars. Whilst Monday’s session was run in dark, damp conditions, Tuesday’s was run in ideal conditions and gave all of the fastest speeds.
Wednesday evening gave us cloud cover and the promise of rain at 9pm; putting pressure on the organisers to hurry matters along. The curtain raiser was the first 1000cc Race, The Ellan Vannin Fuels Senior Race. Dean Harrison was fastest away from the lights; something to be repeated in later races. He was the first to charge out of Ballanorris, past Joey’s Gate and then go hard on the brakes for the hairpin at Ballabeg. He was already 50m ahead of Rob Hodson, Michael Dunlop and Jamie Coward as he reached us. Behind them came the main cavalry charge with the machines spread across the track; somehow they all managed to get through the hairpin unscathed. Dunlop was soon past Hodson and in pursuit of Harrison. Potential podium finisher, local rider Mikey Evans suffered a damper failure and was an early retirement.
Lap 2 saw Harrison clear of Dunlop; who in turn had edged away from Coward. Hodson, Sam West and Ryan Kneen filled out the leader board. The action on track was excellent with close racing throughout the field. Harrison; with a succession of fastest laps pulled away from Dunlop; who appeared to be having handling issues with the Tyco BMW.
Harrison set the best lap of the race on lap 5 at 114.019mph; he then eased his pace to save the machine for the races ahead. His margin of victory was 10.5s; Dunlop finished 15.4s ahead of Coward. On lap 5 Kneen worked his way past West to 5th place; but the end came too soon for him to overhaul Hodson who was just 0.07s ahead of Kneen as they crossed the line.
Ellan Vannin Fuels Senior Race 1
- Dean Harrison Silicone Kawasaki 112.140mph
- Michael Dunlop Tyco BMW 110.920mph
- Jamie Coward Prez Yamaha 109.183mph
- Rob Hodson BMW 108.273mph
- Ryan Kneen BMW 108.265mph
- Sam West BMW 107.764mph
The next race was the JCK Ltd 600cc B Race. This proved to be a real cracker with 7 riders in contention for victory for most of the race. The charge into Ballabeg on lap 1 was led by Don Gilbert and Ben Shuttlewood. The chasing pack; with Rad Hughes at its head, was tightly packed behind and once again they all managed to find a way through. The first 3 held their places on lap 2; but behind them the chasers were swapping places at every turn. On the next lap, Hembury had taken the lead from Gilbert and Michael Mace had displaced Hughes. Lee Hembury; 9th at the end of lap 1 after being bogged down at the start was closing on the leading pack and began to set a series of fastest laps. Lap 4 saw Shuttlewood leading from Mace and Gilbert; with local rider Frankie Stennett now 4th. As they passed us less than2s covered the first 7 machines. Shuttlewood continued to lead throughout laps 5 and 6 and into the final lap. He led by 30m at Ballabeg; where Hembury forced his way past Stennett to take second. Hembury’s charge continued and he led going into Stadium for the final time. He took victory by 0.77s; with just 2.3s covering the next 6 riders.
JCK Ltd 600cc B Race
- Lee Hembury 600 Yamaha 98.535mph
- Frankie Stennett 600Kawasaki 98.465mph
- Ben Shuttlewood 675 Triumph 98.386mph
It was then time for the 600cc A Race to take to the testing 4.25 miles of the Colas Billown Circuit. Dean Harrison was quickest to react to the lights, but first to come into our view past Joey’s Gate was Mikey Evans on the Wilcock Honda. He led Dean Harrison by 5 metres; Jamie Coward, Rob Hodson, Dominic Herbertson and Nathan Harrison were in close formation right behind Harrison. Michael Dunlop had hit problems and came through at the rear of the field; he cruised to the pits to retire.
Coward was on a mission and it was he who led on lap 2; with Dean Harrison close behind; Evans was relegated to the 3rd place that he would hold until the end. Nathan Harrison was close behind in 4th, Herbertson was 5th and Skerries man Michael Sweeney had moved up to 6th. Despite some close racing these positions were unaltered at the end of the race. The main focus was the battle at the sharp end. Coward led throughout laps 3 and 4; but could not shake off Dean Harrison.
Dean made his move on lap 5 and held a slender advantage as they heeled hard right around the hairpin. The roles were now reversed; try as he might Dean Harrison could not pull away from Coward who just 5m down as they powered away from us towards Ballawhetstone for the final time. Both lapped at over 110mph on the final tour; Coward having the satisfaction of setting the fastest lap of the race at 110.304mph; some consolation for missing out on victory by just 0.416s.
Radcliffe Butchers 600cc A Race
- Dean Harrison 600 Silicone Kawasaki 107.914mph
- Jamie Coward 600 Yamaha 107.869mph
- Michael Evans 600 Honda 105.059mph
- Nathan Harrison 600 Honda 105.006mph
- Dominic Herbertson 600 Davies Kawasaki 104.389mph
- Michael Sweeney 600 Yamaha 104.385mph
The final solo race of the evening was the Mike Kerruish Plumbing 250/650cc Race. On the first lap practice form was borne out, Jamie Coward led from Rob Hodson and Dominic Herbertson; who was deputising for the indisposed Paul Jordan. Those 3 had pulled out 30m on the next trio of newcomer Xavier Denis, Jonathan Perry and Dave Moffitt. Michael Sweeney suffered early disappointment; failing to complete the first lap.
On lap 2 Coward had opened a 50m gap on Hodson and Herbertson; behind them Perry was up to 4th and pulling away from Denis and Moffitt. Coward had a much larger lead on lap 3 and seemed to have the race under control. However, his race was to end painfully when he lost the front end as he was going through the right hand part of the S-bend at Church. He escaped with nothing more than a banged knee; his machine was less fortunate; it suffered damage that could not be repaired in time for Thursday’s second race. His accident left Herbertson and Hodson to battle for victory.
Herbertson led by 5m as they powered away from us for the fourth time. Perry and Denis were safe in 3rd and 4th; Mikey Evans was up to 5th and 5m ahead of Moffitt. Hodson had his nose in front on the sixth and final lap as they passed us. Their close encounter raged all the way to the flag; Herbertson just getting the better drive out of Castletown Corner to snatch the win by 0.02s; the sixth narrowest margin of victory in 64 years of racing at Billown.
Mike Kerruish Plumbing 250/650 Race
- Dominic Herbertson 650 Kawasaki 101.600mph
- Rob Hodson 650 Kawasaki 101.598mph
- Jonathan Perry 650 Kawasaki 97.885mph
- Xavier Denis 650 Kawasaki 96.861mph
- Dave Moffitt 650 Kawasaki 96.778mph
- Mikey Evans 650 Kawasaki 96.252mph
Under an oily sky the sidecars took the track for their first race. Heavy rain could be seen falling over Port St Mary and it seemed a near certainty that it would reach us before the race’s conclusion. The charge into Ballabeg for the first time saw outfits using the full width of the track. Tim Reeves led and he sensibly left some room otherwise he could have been torpedoed by Peter Founds who was charging up the inside. A few inches behind came John Holden and Alan Founds who were also looking for a gap through which to challenge. As they exited the corner and Conrad Harrison took the bend; a horrid looking accident occurred on the slight left bend immediately before the hairpin itself. Thankfully the outcome of the incident has not been as serious as it first appeared that it might be. Four competitors were taken to hospital; one via Airmed the other three via ambulances. The drivers involved; Estelle Leblond and Steve Ramsden have been released from hospital. Matty Ramsden and Frank Claeys remain in hospital having non-life threatening injuries treated. We wish them a full and speedy recovery. The marshals; paramedics and the two competing crews who stopped to assist dealt with the incident very professionally; they deserve high praise for their actions. The incident brought an immediate red flag and the end of action for the day.
Thursday morning gave us grey cloud overhead and a breeze that was helping to dry the circuit that had received a good soaking from overnight rain. The weather did as was forecast and improved throughout the morning to give us a sunny afternoon. The first race on the revised programme was the S & S Motors 600cc Race. The roads were still damp under the trees; especially on the section from Ballawhetstone to Cross Four Ways, our location for the morning.
Dean Harrison was quickest off the line and led as the machines screamed towards Ballakeighan for the first time. As the machines came into our view for the first time; it was Mikey Evans who led by 25m from a chasing group of Harrison, Jamie Coward, Rob Hodson and Michael Sweeney. They had pulled a gap out on the main field that was headed by Sam West. Evans continued to lead on lap 2; but his advantage over Harrison was just the width of a tyre. Coward had opened a small gap from Hodson and Sweeney; whilst West continued to head the main pack that was providing great entertainment with some dubious braking.
Lap 3 saw a change in leader; Harrison having assessed conditions was the bravest through the back of the track and had opened a small lead over Coward; with Evans down to third as he swept through the tight left hand bend. Sweeney and Hodson continued their private battle; whilst behind them West and Joe Ackroyd had pulled away from the main pack. Any thought of Harrison being able to pull away were dispelled on lap 4; Coward had closed to within a couple of metres of the leader. Evans remained third but was being closed down by man on the move Sweeney. The lead was back with Harrison on lap 5; but it was just one machine’s length. Behind the leading two the picture was unchanged. Harrison led by 5m on lap 6; the leading duo was now well clear of the battle for third involving Evans, Sweeney and Hodson.
The penultimate lap saw no change at the sharp end; behind the leaders Sweeney had a small advantage over Evans; with Hodson right behind the local man. Harrison led across the line as they began the final lap. Coward drew alongside approaching Ballakeighan but could make the pass. Harrison was the braver through the back section and led by 10m as they swept past the cottages of Cross Four Ways for the final time. Despite Coward setting the fastest lap of the race Harrison held on for victory by just 0.268s. Sweeney took his first podium finish; reward for some “homework” on the track. Evans held off Hodson to take 4th; Sam West won his duel with Ackroyd by 0.295s.
S & S Motors 600cc Race
- Dean Harrison 600 Silicone Kawasaki 104.042mph
- Jamie Coward 600 Yamaha 104.015mph
- Michael Sweeney 600 Honda 102.423mph
- Michael Evans 600 Honda 102.378mph
- Rob Hodson 675 Triumph 102.363mph
- Sam West 600 Yamaha 101.326mph
The next race was the JCK 600cc B Race. As on Wednesday, Don Gilbert took the early lead; he was 20m ahead of Dennis Booth as they appeared for the first time. Dave Moffitt held third from slow starting David McConnachy who had been 9th at Ballakeighan. On lap 2, Gilbert led by a couple of metres from McConnachy with Booth in the 3rd position that he would hold to the flag. Behind the leading three there was some good action as the riders changed positions with great regularity. McConnachy had the lead on lap 3 and he gradually eased away from Gilbert until the final lap when both Gilbert and Booth lapped marginally more rapidly than him.
JCK Ltd 600c B Race
- David McConnachy 600 Yamaha 99.685mph
- Don Gilbert 600 Kawasaki 99.495mph
- Dennis Booth 600 Kawasaki 99.409mph
Next up was the G H Corlett Solo Founders; essentially a consolation race. Dennis Booth was first to reach Cross Four Ways and he was never headed. He set the fastest lap of the race at 102.033mph to win by 6.71s. Jean-Pierre Polet and Richard Eglin were second and third respectively to Cross Four Ways on lap 1 and in common with Booth retained those positions to the finish. This race lacked the mid-field battles of those that had preceded it.
G H Corlett Solo Founders Race
- Dennis Booth 1000 BMW 100.531mph
- Jean-Pierre Polet 1000 BMW 99.798mph
- Richard Eglin 1000 Suzuki 99.294mph
The next race was the second outing for the Superbikes; the Island Aggregates Senior Race. For this the vantage point was alongside the cottage on the inside of the corner; great for close action photographs but problematic for following the race in its entirety. The screaming of the engines gave warning of the approaching machines; rapid starter Dean Harrison was first to sweep past and power away towards Church Bends. Michael Dunlop was next through on his TYCO BMW; closely followed by Mikey Evans and then it was the full field headed by Sam West.
Harrison retained the lead on lap 2 but Dunlop was noticeably closer to him; race on; or so we thought. Sadly; Michael’s ill luck continued and at Castletown Corner he was thrown from the machine in a nasty high-side. His very heavy landing caused his pelvis to fracture. Hard man that he is, Michael has signed himself out of hospital. Hopefully he will recover quickly and have a change of fortune.
Back on track Evans was 3rd at Cross Four Ways; Sam West, Jamie Coward and Rob Hodson filled out the leader board. With Dunlop out of the race Harrison eased his pace to save the machine for the afternoon’s main event. Evans, West and Coward held their positions for laps 2 to six; when West was able to pass Evans.
Then on lap 7 Coward was also able to pass a slowing Evans who just managed to fend the approaches of Rob Hodson. Ryan Kneen had made a slow start but worked his way onto the leader board on lap 5 only to lose it when a missed gear coming into Cross Four Ways saw him overshoot spectacularly. This misfortune elevated Joe Ackroyd back into the final leader board place. Behind the leader, this was a close race with just 7s seconds covering 2nd to 7th and there were similarly close little groupings throughout the field.
Island Aggregates Senior Race
- Dean Harrison 1000 Silicone Kawasaki 109.630mph
- Sam West 1000 BMW 108. 341mph
- Jamie Coward 1000 Prez Yamaha 108.205mph
- Mikey Evans 1000 BMW 108.077mph
- Rob Hodson 1000 BMW 108.059mph
- Joe Ackroyd 1000 Kawasaki 107.631mph
The final race of the morning was the re-run of the Ace Hire Sidecar race that had been red flagged the previous evening. This race was cut to just 4 laps; a puzzling decision when the B and Consolation solo races were allowed to go the scheduled distance. It may have been short; but it was spectacular with four outfits never more than inches apart throughout. The first lap charge into Cross Four Ways was spectacular with Tim Reeves / Mark Wilkes ahead of the Alan Founds / Jake Lowther and Peter Founds / Jevan Walmsley who were side by side. Tucked in right behind them was the outfit of John Holden / Lee Cain. The air was thick with tyre smoke as they charged away towards Church Bends. Lee Crawford / Scott Hardie and Conrad Harrison / Andy Winkle completed the top six. Lap 2 saw just as much tyre smoke; but this time it was an orderly line with Reeves ahead of Alan Founds; Holden and Peter Founds. Lap 3 saw the same order; an attempt by Alan Founds to pass up the inside was rebuffed by Reeves. On lap 4 Founds dived up the inside of Reeves; who having expected the move took a wider line; had higher corner speed; better drive out of the corner and repassed going towards Church. This proved to be the decisive move; Reeves taking victory by 0.42s. Ryan and Callum Crowe took 7th on their debut; lapping at nearly 96mph in the process.
Ace Hire Sidecar Race
- Tim Reeves / Mark Wilkes 600 Yamaha 98.584mph
- Alan Founds / Jake Lowther 600 LCR Yamaha 98.517mph
- Peter Founds / Jevan Walmsley 600 Rowtec Suzuki 98.422mph
- John Holden / Lee Cain 600 LCR Honda 98.395mph
- Lee Crawford / Scott Hardie 600 LCR Suzuki 98.060mph
- Conrad Harrison / Andy Winkle 600 Bellas Honda 94.548mph
The afternoon programme began with the Sidecar Consolation Race. This was being led by Ryan and Callum Crowe by 1.5s from fellow debutants John Lowther / Robert Child when the red flag came on lap 3. The reason was a crash involving Alan Warner / Ian Tennant. Warner received some fractures in the crash; hopefully he will make a full recovery from these injuries. Michael Russell an experienced solo rider around Billown took third on his debut in the class.
Station Garage Sidecar Consolation Race
- Ryan Crowe / Callum Crowe 600 Yamaha 94.004mph
- John Lowther / Robert Child 600 LCR Honda 93.595mph
- Michael Russell / Tom Bryant 600 Shelbourne Suzuki 91.159mph
The next race was the Bettridges 600cc Challenge Race. This time Mikey Evans did not have the early lead; Dean Harrison was rapid away from the lights and he led by 50m from Michael Sweeney as he took the S bend at Church. Sweeney was a similar distance ahead of a chasing group of Sam West, Jamie Coward, Nathan Harrison, Mikey Evans, Rob Hodson and Joe Akroyd.
Harrison was 1.9s ahead of Sweeney as they began lap 2. At Church, Harrison was nearly 4s clear of Sweeney and Coward. Behind them Nathan Harrison and Evans had opened a 100m gap on the trio scrapping behind them. Coward was up to second at the end of the lap; but by this time Harrison was 5s ahead. The only change on lap 3 was that Evans had edged past Nathan Harrison in the private duel of the local riders. Coward increased his pace and began to nibble away at Harrison’s lead bringing it down to 3.2s on lap 5.
Harrison got the message and set the fastest lap of the race on lap 6 to keep Coward at arm’s length. Sweeney duly took the final step of the podium. Evans took 4th and Nathan Harrison 5th; both lapped at over 107mph on the final lap. Joe Ackroyd had passed West on lap 5 and held him off 0.19s to complete the leader board. This was another race with plenty of excellent close action to keep the crowd entertained.
Bettridges of Foxdale 600cc Challenge Race
- Dean Harrison 600 Silicone Kawasaki 107.744mph
- Jamie Coward 600 Prez Yamaha 107.478mph
- Michael Sweeney 600 Yamaha 105.918mph
- Mikey Evans 600 Honda 105.729mph
- Nathan Harrison 600 Honda 105.478mph
- Joe Ackroyd 600 Suzuki 104.932mph
Next race was the Ocean Motor Village 250/650cc Race for which Jamie Coward was the notable non-starter. The race followed the expected script with Dominic Herbertson and Rob Hodson clear at the front and having a private battle for the honours on lap 1.
Michael Sweeney and Jonathan Perry were in close company in 3rd and 4th positions. Xavier Denis and Stephen McKnight completed our top six. Herbertson held a small advantage as they swept through Church Bends for the second time. The leaders were now 5s clear of Sweeney who had opened a 100m gap on Perry. Denis looked safe in 5th but McKnight was being challenged by Mikey Evans.
Herbertson continued to lead; but his lead was always in the region of 0.5s. Perry was forced to retire at the end of lap and then on lap 5 Hodson was forced to park his machine at Iron Gate. This elevated Sweeney to 2nd and Denis to 3rd. Evans was 4th; having passed McKnight on lap 4, McKnight was 5th; with Dave Moffitt taking the final leader board place.
Ocean Motor Village 250/650cc Race
- Dominic Herbertson 650 Kawasaki 101.688mph
- Michael Sweeney 650 Kawasaki 99.590mph
- Xavier Denis 650 Kawasaki 98.508mph
- Michael Evans 650 Kawasaki 98.255mph
- Stephen McKnight 650 Suzuki 98.134mph
- Dave Moffitt 650 Kawasaki 98.040mph
Next came the big race; the Hunts Solo Championship; over 9 laps. Dean Harrison was once again fastest away from the lights and had a 1.3s lead as he swept between the walls of the churchyard for the first time. Rob Hodson and Ryan Kneen held 2nd and 3rd. Dominic Herbertson was 4th; but his race ended with an early retirement in the paddock. This left Sam West, Jamie Coward and Mikey Evans to fill the initial leader board.
Harrison built his lead with three quick laps; the best at 113.825mph; he then eased his pace to take his sixth victory of the meeting by 14.8s. This elevated him to third on the all-time list of winners at Billown with 24. He was away and clear at Church on lap 2; where Kneen was climbing over the back of Hodson and looking for a way to pass. Behind them West, Evans and Coward were in close company.
Kneen was able to pass Hodson on lap 3 and kept second place to the flag; finishing just 0.39s ahead. For Evans the race ended when he overshot Cross Four Ways and retired on lap 4. Sam West put in another fine performance to secure his 4th place finish, 1.2s clear of Jamie Coward. Michael Sweeney took 6th, just 0.7s ahead of Joe Ackroyd. The leading 600cc machine was that of Nathan Harrison in 12th.
Hunts Motorcycles Solo Championship
- Dean Harrison 1000 Silicone Kawasaki 111.565mph
- Ryan Kneen 1000 BMW 110.240mph
- Rob Hodson 1000 BMW 110.206mph
- Sam West 1000 BMW 110.147mph
- Jamie Coward 1000 Prez Yamaha 110.042mph
- Michael Sweeney 1000 1000 BMW 109.079mph
The crowd made its displeasure known when it was confirmed that the Sidecar Championship Race was being reduced to 6 laps. These crews pay a significant amount of money to come to the meeting and appear to have been given the mucky end of the stick; hopefully this will not happen again.
The race had major drama on the start line. Tim Reeves was over eager and made a jump start. Knowing what he had done, he pulled the outfit to the side of the track and allowed all of the other outfits to pass him. He then set off to try and repair the self-inflicted damage to his hopes. At Church on the first lap Peter Founds led by inches from his brother Alan. Lee Crawford held 3rd from John Holden whose start was hampered by the machine having his TT engine in it and as a consequence a high first gear. This set up gave him a higher top speed but less grunt out of the tight corners that are so important at Billown. The Founds brothers were side by side crossing the line; Alan shown to be 0.074s ahead by the transponder timing. Alan promptly ruined his race when he overshot at Ballakeighan; leaving Peter Founds and Holden to fight for victory.
At Church on lap 2 Peter Founds led by 50m from Holden, Crawford was 3rd and a flying Reeves was up to 4th. It was then announced that Reeves had been given a 10s penalty for his jump start; this appeared to be a case of double jeopardy because his self-imposed penalty was far more severe. In the end it did not matter because the engine of his machine expired on lap 5.
Holden closed down Founds and had the lead on lap 4 at Church; it was officially 0.02s at the end of the lap. Founds was not to be denied and was in front again at Church on lap 5. Founds led across the line but Holden’s superior speed gave him the lead at Ballakeighan. He was not able to hold it and it was Founds who led through Church on the final frenetic lap. He kept Holden at bay to win by 0.151s. Crawford took the final podium place; whilst Alan Founds recovered to secure 4th.
Daryl Blake Construction Sidecar Championship
- Peter Founds / Jevan Walmsley 600 Rowtec Suzuki 99.216mph
- John Holden / Lee Cain 600 LCR Honda 99.202mph
- Lee Crawford / Scott Hardie 600 LCR Suzuki 97.657mph
- Alan Founds / Jake Lowther 600 LCR Yamaha 96.843mph
- Conrad Harrison / Andy Winkle 600 Bellas Honda 95.244mph
- Michael Russell / Tom Bryant 600 Shelbourne Suzuki 92.480mph
This brought down the curtain on a meeting that was dominated by Dean Harrison. It gave Dominic Herbertson his first wins at the meeting, a first win for the new Sidecar Champions and one of the best sidecar races ever seen on the circuit. The organization was slick as always and the races remain as friendly as ever; long may that continue; we do not want the creeping corporatization that is ruining the TT to spread to Billown. A big thank you is due to the marshals and paramedics; without their dedication we could not enjoy ourselves watching the finest road racers take on the challenge of the Colas Billown Circuit.