5 star Todd and Founds take S100 Championships.
Thursday; Championship Day; brought hot, sunny weather and some amazing racing for the large crowds to enjoy. It was good to see Roy Moore in attendance at his old commentary point. First race was the second running of the JCK 600cc B Race. This followed a similar pattern to the first in that race favourite Michael Russell made a slow start. Don Gilbert, Jack Petrie, and newcomer Ryan Whitewall were first into our view Cross Four Ways. Russell worked his way through the field to be second by the end of lap 2. Despite having a brake issue, he passed Petrie on lap 5. Just when all looked to have been decided; Gilbert’s chain came off at Castletown Corner on lap 6. This left Russell with the victory; one that he said he would not have achieved had Gilbert kept going. Both Gilbert and Petrie lapped at over 103mph; Russell fastest at 103.506mph a new record. Impressive newcomer Yann Galli finished third.
The S&S Motors 600cc A Race was the next event, and it followed the previous evening running by having four at the front separated by inches as they pushed to the limit on the 4.25 miles of the Colas Billown Circuit. The lap 1 charge into Cross Four Ways saw Davey Todd heading a group made up of Dean Harrison, Jamie Coward, Michael Dunlop and Rob Hodson. Nathan Harrison led the next group; which included Paul Jordan and Joe Yeardsley.
That was the order at the end of the lap; margins at the front measured in hundredths of a second. On lap 2 at Cross Four Ways the top four had broken clear; with Todd holding the lead. The race ended for young Joe Yeardsley when the front end washed out for no apparent reason; he was perfectly okay but out of the race. The battle continued to rage with less 0.5s covering the four contenders. The first change came on lap 4 when Dunlop passed Harrison on the approach to Cross Four Ways. Dunlop then passed Todd on the approach to Ballakeighan to lead for the first time. Dunlop was inches ahead of Todd at Cross Four Ways on lap 5; they had taken 20m out of Harrison and Coward.
Lap 6 saw Todd in the lead again as the group swept past the cottage walls. We then had Richard Charlton losing the front end on the brakes and taking Russ Mountford down with him. The marshals did their work to keep other riders safe and clear the fallen machines. Due to some fluid being on the track yellows flags were kept out for the remainder of the race. The final lap at cross four Ways saw Dunlop leading again; Harrison took the inside line and second place from Todd (who was not pleased). Coward took fourth; just 0.661s down on Dunlop. Rob Hodson and Paul Jordan completed the leader board.
The Corlett’s Solo Founders’ Race for non-qualifiers brough out a mix of machinery. Richard Eglin dominated from the start; but on the final lap had an accident at Stadium; less than 1 mile from the finish; his injuries were thought to be “not serious.” His misfortune gifted victory to newcomer Paul Turner.
After a delay for tidying up and track washing the morning ended with the Steam Packet Senior Race; a dress rehearsal for the afternoon’s main event. Once again Davey Todd was fastest to react to the lights; he had the lead at Ballakeighan. Cross Four Ways saw Dean Harrison in the lead from Todd, Nathan Harrison, Dunlop and Michael Sweeney. Rob Hodson, Paul Jordan and Ryan Kneen were not far behind. Todd had retaken the lead at the end of lap 1, with Dunlop up to third. On lap 2, Todd led from Dean Harrison at Cross Four Ways; Dunlop and Nathan Harrison were close behind.
The order was the same on lap 3; behind the leading quartet Ryan Kneen blew his chance of a leader board finish when he overshot the corner. Lap 4 saw no change in order at the front. Todd led over the line; but Dean Harrison made a pass on the long start /finish straight. Harrison led, with Todd right behind him, until Stadium on the final lap; here Todd made a brave pass and managed to hold off Harrison at Castletown Corner to secure victory by 0.32s. Both lapped at over 116mph during the race; Harrison setting a new outright record of 116.452 on lap; simply breath-taking. Dunlop was third; the ever more impressive Nathan Harrison took fourth. Jamie Coward recovered from a terrible start to take fifth from Sweeney.
The first race of the afternoon was Bettridges’ 600cc Support Race; despite the title it was for the fastest 26 riders, plus four invited by the committee. It again gave us a superb race involving the usual suspects. Our location for the afternoon was the inside of the exit to Church Bends where the riders are inches from the stone wall of the graveyard. Being so close to the bikes means that their noise overpowers the radio commentary; even with headphones on. This race gave us déjà vu; Dunlop was slower than his main rivals from the lights. Todd was the hare on lap 1; with Harrison right on his rear wheel; they were hugely impressive as they skirted the wall and powered away towards Great Meadow. Todd led at the end of the lap from Harrison, Dunlop and Coward. Lap 2 saw a repeat of lap 1 with the leading trio skimming the wall; this time Coward was unable to keep with the leading trio as they exchanged lap records. Behind Coward, we had Hodson, Jordan, Sweeney and Joe Yeardsley; clearly unaffected by his morning slip up.
The battle at the front continued to rage at race record pace; the riders absolutely inch perfect as they swept through the bends between the walls. Try as he might, Harrison could not make a move stick and it was Todd who led going into the final lap. He was perfect through Church and held his advantage through the flat out Great Meadow section. Dunlop was giving it everything and set a new lap record for 600cc machines at 110.998mph; however, it was not enough to dislodge the leading duo. Todd duly crossed the line to win by 0.118s at a record average of 109.737mph. Dunlop was just 0.18s down on Harrison. Coward duly took another fourth placed finish; Jordan and Hodson filled out the leader board.
The next tasty morsel was provided by the Ocean Motor Village Lightweight Race. This gave us another duel in the sun between Jamie Coward and Rob Hodson. Coward grabbed the hole shot; but Hodson led by inches as they swooped right then left through Church Bends, and he led at the end of the lap. They were never more than 1s apart as they swapped the lead and lap records in a stunning display of riding on the edge. Behind them Jordan had a lonely ride to third; whilst Jonathan Perry Perry and Barry Furber tussled for fourth. Rhys Hardisty was another who had a fairly lonely ride; he took the last leader board place. The leaders used every inch of the track on the final lap; this time the result was reversed; Hodson winning by 0.74s at an average speed of 104.633mph. Coward had the consolation of setting the fastest lap and new lap record at 105.934mph.
It was now time for the two Championship Races. The Hunts Motorcycles Solo Championship proved a fitting climax for the solo races with the lap and race records being consigned to history. Todd was again fastest to react to the lights, and he led by 15m as he came over the crest and heeled into Church. In a now familiar script, Dean Harrison was second 20m ahead of Dunlop. Nathan Harrison was fourth, Coward fifth and Sweeney sixth. Todd led 0.985s at the end of the lap; with Dunlop 0.9s down on Harrison. Lap 2 saw Todd leading 0.3s as they entered Church; they had pulled away from Dunlop; his changes from the morning’s settings did not do as he hoped, so ending his victory hopes. Todd led by 0.39s at the end of the lap; Dunlop was now 4s adrift and riding for third.
Lap 3 at Church saw Harrison just a couple of metres behind Todd; both now lapping at over 116mph. Dunlop was on his own in third. Nathan Harrison and Coward were again enjoying a private scrap; behind them Kneen, Hodson and Sweeney were arguing over 6th place. Try as he might Harrison could not dislodge Todd; but the lead was never over 0.5s as they put on a display of skill and bravery for the enthralled crowds gathered around the circuit. On to lap 7 and the lead was just 10m at Church. Dunlop was third; behind him Coward was edging away from Nathan Harrison and Kneen in sixth was now clear of Hodson and Sweeney. There was no change on lap 8 as the riders prepared for the final lap. Coming into Church, Todd led by 10m going into the section that most favoured him. He hit his marks and did not give Harrison a chance to force his way past. Todd’s lap was his best of the race at 116.805mph; it gave him victory by 0.061s at a race record average of 115.655mph. Harrison’s effort on the last lap saw him raise the absolute lap record to 116.941mph; absolutely awesome. Dunlop took third, 20.84s behind Harrison. Coward took fourth by 1.94s from Nathan Harrison; with Ryan Kneen taking a fine sixth. Going under the radar for most of the meeting was local man Marcus Simpson who put in a number of top ten finishes; he was ninth in this race and is definitely one to watch for the future.
Final race of the best meeting of the year was the Daryl Blake Sidecar Championship. For this race the Crowe brothers had ditched their Triumph engine and installed the Honda engine that gave them podium finishes in the TT. John Holden was a notable non-starter for the race. Tim Reeves / Kevin Rousseau were first into Ballakeighan, and it was this outfit that first appeared over the crest to dive into the S-bend at Church. They were followed closely by Pete founds / Jevan Walmsley and the Crowe brothers. It was a fine sight as they weaved between the walls of the churchyard and the graveyard. The order was the same at the end of lap 1; just 0.6s covered the three outfits. Lap 2 and the black and gold outfit still led by a couple of metres from Founds with the Crowe brothers right behind. Reeves led by 0.422s as they began lap 3; but he was then hit by the misfire that hampered him in the first race. At Church on lap 3, Founds led by 10m from the Crowe brothers; with Reeves now 100m behind and out of contention for the win. Wayne Lockey, Conrad Harrison and Greg Lambert filled the leader board. The pace was electric; Founds set his best ever lap at 102.082mph; but that was beaten by the Crowe brothers who raised the lap record to 102.398mph. They pulled out of the slipstream on the bypass to take the lead. It was short lived; they went into Ballakeighen a little too hot and had a minor incident; but it was enough to put them out of the race and deprive us of what was shaping up to be a classic duel. Founds continued to lap at a fast pace and pulled well clear of Reeves. The battle for what was now third place was settled in favour of Conrad Harrison / Andy Winkle. Lambert took fourth after passing Lockey with a rather dangerous looking manoeuvre going into Church on lap 7. The final leader board place was secured by former champion passenger Darren hope and his passenger Lenny Bumfrey.
This was a superb meeting and a fitting farewell for Clerk of the Course Peter Oates. This meeting is always friendly with the officials keen to help everyone to do their jobs and to make all feel welcome. This year’s contrast to the rigid formality and box ticking mentality of the TT was more marked than ever. Hopefully this attitude will not be lost when the new regime takes over; sadly, I fear that it will be. To leave on a positive note; this was the best meeting of the year; records shredded; in only his second year at the event Davey Todd showed that he can match the established masters of Dean Harrison, Michael Dunlop and Jamie Coward. We have seen new young stars rising; notably Nathan Harrison, Joe Yeardsley and Marcus Simpson in the solos and the Crowe brothers in the sidecars. It was a great pleasure to be there and to have unrestricted access to the paddock where the teams were always welcoming.
Follow us on social media: