Friday, April 19, 2024

Top 5 This Week

Southern 100 Press launch starts countdown to the road racing season.

The winter slumber came to an abrupt end when the Press Launch for the events that will take place on the 4.25 miles of the Billown Circuit was held by Southern 100 Racing at a packed Morton Hall. Apart from one minor tweak it is the programme that was scheduled for last year.

The evening was opened by organiser Phil Edge; Press Secretary for the two meetings. Then it was interview time. The sponsors who were in attendance spoke enthusiastically about the events and the organizers. First on stage was Clive Callister from Colas; the circuit sponsors and sponsors of the Ballakeighan grandstand. Next to speak was Chris Beaumont from 3Wheeling; his enthusiasm for sidecars in general and the S100 in particular was infectious. The commentary team from Manx Radio was next; tonight’s event host Chris Kinley (paddock); Rob Pritchard (Cross Four Ways) and Tim Glover (start / finish line) will be on duty for both race meetings; all three are avid fans of the events. Sean Ridout outlined how Blue Wave Communications are improving Wi-Fi coverage around the circuit; as a former competitor, he is keen to improve the experience for competitors and fans alike. Callum Staley from CJS Websites is working on a major upgrade to the social media platforms used by the organisers and is also installing a much more comprehensive and user friendly timing system, one that will give the much needed lap by lap speeds.

Foraging vintners; providers of the podium fizz; were represented by Ian Swindells. His company have improved greatly the facilities for fans near to the clubhouse. The company is branching out into rider sponsorship; with Ramsey based Gareth Arnold the first to benefit. Fuel sponsor EVF; represented by Andy Sweetman; is continuing for the 36th year and has every intention of continuing for many more years. There were some notable absentees; headline sponsor for the Southern 100 meeting the IOM Steam Packet Company; headline sponsor for the Pre-TT Classic, Blackford’s; due to Dave Smart being off island. Mylchreests’ Group, the vehicle sponsor; involved since the first event, and the Department for Enterprise were not represented; the latter due to a ministerial change by the Chief Minister.

Last year’s tragedy led to funds being raised to purchase privacy screens for use in the event of an accident that causes injury to a rider on the track. The new screens were demonstrated; they can be deployed in seconds. Debbie Harris led fund raising for the screens; she and her helpers raised £12,088.29. The Hogg Motorsport team have bought more of them for use on the Mountain Course and at other events, including those at Billown. The new S100 marshals’ hut is to be named in memory of Liam Clarke; the marshal who lost his life in last year’s tragic accident.

Then it was the turn of some of the riders to take to the stage. The amazing Chris McGahan informed us that he first began racing in 1955 as passenger to Bob Riding, at a time when the passenger’s name did not normally appear in programmes. Chris has several solo rides lined up for the Pre-TT meeting including one in honour of the late Gary Vines; for Wobbly Bob Racing and one the hales Honda he has ridden many times before. Adrian kershaw; now a fine road race rider outlined his plans for the season; a podium at Billown must be on the cards for this fine rider. Gareth Arnold has garnered support from Cowton Racing; he will have the best guidance possible as he continues his rapid progression through the ranks. Marc Colvin will have the People’s Bike team behind him; he will be looking for podium visits this year. Local stars and MGP winners Nathan Harrison and Joe Yeardsley were in attendance and outlined their plans; more of that in our TT preview. Both are fine young men to go with being supremely talented riders. It was good to see Lee Crawford and Scott Hardie in attendance; they have impressed in their rides at Billown and on their Mountain Course debut. This year they are on an LCR and a podium at Billown could be theirs given a fair wind. The interviews ended with an interesting and amusing contribution from the effervescent Sarah Stokoe. Phil Taubman MBE, then brought the event to a close.

This event merely confirmed what we already know; this is a very special pair of events; loved by the riders and spectators. The committee are the glue for everything; they work tirelessly; yet manage to have time for everyone; making all feel welcome – TT organisers please take note.

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