Thursday, May 23, 2024

Top 5 This Week

Southern 100 press launch begins road race countdown; Davey Todd receives Geoff Duke Trophy.

The countdown to the road racing season began in earnest with the Press Launch of the Pre-TT Classic Races and the Southern 100 Races. These races will be held on the 4.25m of the Colas Billown Circuit on May 26th, 27th and 28th for the Pre-TT Classic, and July 10th – 13th for the Southern 100. The evening was opened by Press Secretary, Phil Edge; one the hardworking committee who make the events so popular. It was good to see Alan “Kipper” Killip MBE in attendance; he raced in the inaugural S100 in 1955 and was for 38 years a travelling marshal.

The sponsors, in their interviews, were full of praise for the events and the committee; stressing the welcoming atmosphere; the high regard in which the committee is held and that it was a privilege to be associated with races. The list of sponsors is long; headline sponsor of the S100, the IOM Steam Packet has been involved for 37 years. Headline sponsor for the Pre-TT Classic; Blackfords Financial Services has been involved for over 20 years. Mylchreests (course cars) have been involved for almost the entire time that the races have existed; their name synonymous with motor sport. Clive Callister of circuit sponsors Colas said that his company “would do what it takes” to ensure that racing continues at Billown. DAO continue their sponsorship; as do Blue Wave Communications (WiFi etc), Manx Radio continue with race commentaries (at their own expense); Foraging Vinters continue to provide post-race fizz. Greenlight Television continue their association; this year will see more drone footage and next year should see full live streaming.

The events cannot go ahead without the orange army of trackside marshals. If anyone can marshal, please contact the club via the web site; www. southern100.com/marshals. All will be made welcome, and training can be arranged for newcomers. The marshals need the proper equipment; not least the medical equipment that is provided around the course. Doctor David Stevens MBE, on behalf of the Rob Vine Fund, showed the new packs that were recently purchased at a cost of £42,000. The equipment is colour coded to indicate who can, or cannot, use the individual pieces of equipment.

Several riders were present; Paul Jordan has the worry of the insurance problem facing the MCUI; his track time looks like being severely curtailed in the run up to the Isle of Man events. Paul remains with the Prez Team. Jonathan Perry remains with the Gordon Huxley Team and will contest all solo classes at the TT and S100. Rob Hodson has announced a move to the SMT Team; sponsors of John McGuinness in the Supersport TT last year. Rob will contest all classes and retains all of his personal sponsors; more wins seem sure to come his way. Joe Yeardsley was something of a sensation last year. Despite only just having gained a national licence he rode superbly in the Pre-TT and S100 races to be mixing it at the sharp end. He will be back for this year and will debut in the Manx Grand Prix; including on a Paton for the ILR (Ian Lougher) team that brought the very promising Joseph McLoughlin to the TT last year. Guided by Ian and former British Champion; multiple TT and S100 winner Chris Palmer; Joe should be one to watch. Nathan Harrison had his Steam Packet sponsored Honda Fireblade on display. He still seemed to not be quite able to believe that he was now a Honda works rider. He will be on the factory bikes for the NW200 (hopefully the insurance issues can be resolved) and the TT. He will be able to contest the S100 on his own machinery; so, will be back in Steam Packet livery in July. In 1999 a wide eyed John McGuinness joined his hero; Joey Dunlop; in the Honda team; now it is a role reversal as Nathan joins him; hopefully John will give Nathan some valuable guidance.

Sidecar team Greg Lambert and Andy Haynes gave their thoughts on last season; one in which they gained a podium finish at Billown. For Greg it was quite emotional after 30 years of racing at Billown; including a championship win in 1997. Sidecar Champion Pete founds was there and said how good the racing was at Billown and how much he and Jevan Walmsley enjoyed the atmosphere of the meeting. They are setting their bike up for the season and will be looking for ways to extract the most from the outfit.

Finally, we had Davey Todd, S100 Solo Championship winner and BSB Superstock Champion on stage with host Chris Kinley. Having just one prior year’s experience of the S100, he was surprised to be able to mix it with the established stars such as Dean Harrison and Michael Dunlop and more so to be able to beat them. He loved the close racing; as did all of those of us who were able to be trackside. Davey has decided to stay with the Padgett’s team for this season. He loves being with the team and they are building a Superbike for him to campaign in BSB this year. The team will allow Davey to race at The S100 and Armoy; if that meeting goes ahead. To end proceedings, Davey was presented with the Geoff Duke Trophy; by Geoff’s son Peter; for winning the Duke Road Race Rankings for 2022; a league that is essentially the road racing championship for Britain and Ireland. This talented young man seems set for more success in 2023.

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