The 2019 TT Festival splashed into life at the Billown Circuit this afternoon with the Pre-TT Classic Sidecar race 1. Solo practice had been in overcast and times wet conditions on Friday evening and this afternoon; with Jamie Coward dominating proceedings. The Sidecars lost their Friday session due an oil spill and bike fire that burned out Greg Lambert’s outfit. A rescheduled session first thing this afternoon saw Rod Bellas / Danny Quirk take pole position.
As fate would have it, the worst conditions of the day faced the crews when race time arrived; with rain falling steadily and the track becoming properly wet as opposed to damp. Tony Thirkell / Trevor Johnson were quickest away from the lights; but by Ballabeg on lap 1 the pole sitters were in a lead that they would never relinquish. At the commentary point at Cross Four Ways, Bellas was pulling away from Thirkell; with Keith Walters /Alun Thomas also settled into their finishing position.
Those led at our vantage point at Castletown Corner, with Patrick Geffray / Andrew Haynes in 4th. Next it was Andy Nourish / Nicolai Klinker closely followed by Simon Christie / Glenn Dawson. Christie gave it too much throttle and spun the outfit; leaving it facing the wrong way. He then started off going the wrong way; presumably thinking that he could turn it around in the slip road. In doing so he moved into the path of Mike Cookson / Kenny Cole. The inevitable collision occurred leaving the innocent parties briefly trapped under their upturned outfit. They were extricated quickly by the marshals and were none the worse. Christie’s assertion that this was a racing incident was one not shared by those of us who witnessed the incident; it was entirely avoidable.
The race continued with further incident; leaving Bellas / Quirk to pick up the winners’ laurels.
VMCC Sidecar Race 1
- Rod Bellas / Danny Quirk 1200 BLR Imp 79.765mph
- Tony Thirkell / Trevor Johnson 1070 BMW MRE 78.484mph
- Keith Walters / Alun Thomas 1000 BLR Honda 76.349mph
The low cloud base and wet roads meant that the first TT practice session was called off. Fortunately a contingency for roads to close tomorrow afternoon has been put into place, ensuring that much needed track time is not lost.