Motorcycle fans gathered for the Friday Isle of Man TT races.
Race and lap records may or not fall, but all present will witness the very first running of a TT for clean emission motorcycles, the TTXGP. Cynicism is gradually evaporating as each day has gone by and the bikes have shown that they are in fact a viable race machine capable of lapping at respectable speeds. Cost is still a factor, as is the fact that they pass silently and there is no anticipation of a rider coming that is normally present with an internal combustion-engined (ICE) machine. No doubt these facts will be addressed in due course, but there is also no doubt minds are opening – especially with 100 mph-plus speeds being recorded through the Sulby speed trap and the quickest average lap speed topping 85 mph during practice. The Open and Pro classes go at least some way to dealing with the cost issue.
This inaugural event is due to started the day’s program at 10:45. The final entry list has now been published showing 15 starters after yesterday’s practice session out at Jurby airfield.
(top left, clockwise): Lining up for the TTXGP race were American Tom Montano on the
Mission Motors entry; Mark Miller on the Portland, Oregon based MotoCzysz motorcycle;
Mark Buckley on the second bike entered by Brammo; and Rob Barber on the AGNi X101.
Leading off and starting a new page in the history books is Thomas Montano on the Mission Motors entry, a real US coup. Three places behind him will be Mark Miller on the futuristic MotoCzysz machine, making two complete all American teams. Following Miller will be the Barefoot Motors entry ridden by Chris Petty, closely followed by Roy Richardson on the first of the two Brammo entries.
Further down the list is Chris Heath on the Electric Motorsports entry with Mark Buckley on the second Brammo machine taking the last slot. However, Rob Barber riding the AGNI X101 started as favorite to cross the line first after the single lap of racing, given the practice times.
Moving on, an announcement was made regarding the Norton Rotary putting an end to the speculation that has been rife since the cancellation of the Wednesday night’s practice session, which was its last chance to qualify for today’s blue ribbon event. There has been no dispensation granted for it to race as expected, but Wednesday’s Supersport TT winner, Michael Dunlop, will do a single lap after the TTXGP at 11:40 accompanied by the travelling marshals.
The Norton Rotary did not qualify to race the Isle of Man Senior TT race Friday.
But for many the main interest and focus of the day is still the six-lap Pokerstars Senior TT set to start at 1pm. The final entry list shows 76 starters. Despite his performances on the smaller machines, John McGuinness still has to start as favorite for the Senior, having won it the past four years. He dominated Monday’s Dainese Superbike race and will be using his HM Plant Honda superbike on which he recorded a new outright lap record with an average lap speed of 130.442mph on his second lap which included slowing for a pit stop!
Another potential contender is TAS Suzuki’s Bruce Anstey who will be desperate to make up for one of his most disappointing TT’s, having retired in three races, one of which, the Relentless Supersport while leading. A second is his best place so far and will no doubt be focusing on the imaginary target painted on McGuinness’s back!
Guy Martin may have enjoyed a fair bit of attention thanks to Dainese and his association with Valentino Rossi, but he is still without a TT win. No doubt he too will be going all out to put that right in the Senior and has already shown he is capable of topping the 130 mph mark having recorded a 129.806 mph lap during the Dainese Superbike race.
(top) Ian Hutchinson was poised to take the Joey Dunlop TT Championship Trophy as he came into Friday’s race.
(bottom) Coming into the Senior TT, Adrain Archibald held the fastest lap record for the week set by an Irish rider.
Obviously, Ian Hutchinson and Michael Dunlop, having recorded wins already this week, must also be contenders. However, like local Manxman Connor Cummins and Scot Keith Amor, none has the top flight works machinery that McGuiness and co. have at their disposal. However, as we have already seen this week, there is no such thing as certainty at the TT and there is now a real depth of field all the way down the starting grid! From a US perspective Mark Miller (also out in the TTXGP), Jimmy Moore, CR Gittere and James Vanderhaar are good to go.
The inaugural running of the Joey Dunlop TT Championship Trophy that comes complete with a £10,000 prize shows Ian Hutchinson having an almost unassailable lead as we head to the last race. Honda riders take the first four places. In fact, Plater, Martin and McGuiness are the only people capable of preventing him taking the trophy and money. However, due to the points system he looks pretty safe unless he does not finish!
Adrian Archibald leads the chase for the Martin Finnegan Trophy, this is a solid bronze replica of the Irishman’s Arai RX7 helmet awarded to the Irishman who records the fastest lap during race week. This is a tribute to the Irish racer and comes with a prize fund of €1000 Euros and a brand new Arai helmet.
With the Sure sidecar race 2 cancelled following the incident at Ballacobb in Wednesday’s race, Dave Molyneux/Dan Sayle have taken the overall title and £5000 prize by virtue of their victory in the first Sure Sidecar race.
So at 10:30 the grid formed up full of machines connected to generators in most cases for the bikes, but in some for tire warmers as well! The packed grid included members of the Indian High Commission present to see the Anglo Indian AGNI entry head away on the historic 37.73 mile lap. With the clock showing exactly 10:45, in almost ideal racing conditions American Thomas Montano made history as he accelerated down the Glencrutchery Road on the Mission Motors entry followed by 12 other machines, two being non-starters from the original list.
German XXL racing team’s Thomas Schoenfelder trailed AGNI’s Rob Barber at the first timing during the TTXGP.
At the first timing point at Glen Helen pre race favorite Rob Barber on the AGNI was leading Thomas Schoenfelder on the German XXL racing team entry, followed by James McBride on Ramsey Isle of Man entry the Man TTx bike, then Roy Richardson on the first of the Brammo machines. Montano was sixth.
There was disappointment though for the Team Motoczysz machine ridden by Mark Miller, a potential challenger, as mechanical problems forced a retirement before reaching the first timing checkpoint. James McBride moved into second, riding the ManTTx machines for the injured Dan Kneen, but would have to retire leaving the German in second place. However, Barber had established a firm lead and started to dominate the event.
It was difficult to work out who was leading in the other class with the timing focus being on the leaders on the road. Barber though had established a 1 minute 32 second lead at the halfway point over the German entry, which retained to the finish. Schoenfelder however did race through the Sulby speed trap at 106.5 mph, setting the electric TT record.
Barber took the win with a 87.434 mph average speed. The second-place Schoenfelder was three minutes ahead the third-placed Team Brammo entry piloted by Mark Buckley.
In the Open Class confusion reigned as Team Barefoot Motors’ Chris Petty faded at the finish, allowing Team Electric Motorsport’s Chris Heath take a convicing with John Crellin claiming third for Team Tork. However, the jubilation on the podium quickly turned into confusion when a shock announcement stated Heath had been disqualified, promoting Petty to the win. In fact, the podium ceremony became something of a farce as riders climbed up and down, the only thing that seemed certain was that Lancastrian Rob Barber was the confirmed winner overall! (Heath’s DQ was later reversed) Another fact confirmed was the 1966 50cc TT record set by Ralph Bryans had fallen.
The Poker Stars girls and Murray and Graham Walker were present to kick off the 2009 Isle of Man Senior TT race.
During the garlanding ceremony the Norton roared away on its lap, interrupting things, its departure having been overshadowed by the TTXGP start and finish. While disputes continued over the final placings rain was reported around the course and with just half an hour to go before the start a half-hour delay was reported due to rain on the course. This of course immediately affected the predictions as to the likely winners, McGuinness not favoring the mixed conditions as he showed earlier in the week. In addition the likelihood of race and lap records now seemed unlikely!
However, prior reports from around the course confirmed dry roads and the riders all lined up for a 1:30 start and all looked good for the final six-lap, 226-mile race. It was flagged off at the allotted time by Murray Walker, former F1 and motorcycle commentator and son of famous Rudge team manger in the 1920s, Graham Walker, who went onto edit one of the UK’s major motorcycle magazines and help form the National Motor Museum at Beaulieu.
It was clear from the start that McGuinness was in no mood to hang about and promptly broke his own outright lap record with a 17.17.23 lap, an average of 130.953 mph. He was closely followed by teammate Plater also posting a 130.490 mph lap. Local lad Conor Cummins was third with a 129-plus mph lap with Hutchinson and Anstey close behind. Martin was clearly not happy having problems as confirmed with a leisurely pit stop at the end of the second lap.
McGuinness clearly wanted to get the race in the bag in case bad weather stopped play as he pushed the outright lap record above the 131-mph barrier recording 17.12.39 and a lap time of 131.578 despite slowing for a 40-second pit-stop. He received a standing ovation, not only from the crowd but all the team mechanics in pit lane!
Despite his blistering pace he could not afford to relax as Plater again banged in a 130-plus lap behind, with the other riders holding station behind. Anstey rounded off a poor week by his standard, once again retiring before the end of the second lap, leaving the way clear for Honda to take yet another win in their 50th year. By the end of Lap 3 the top three remained the same, but Martin had moved to fourth, with all the lap times having dropped to 125 mph thanks to the pits stops.
(top) Race leader Jon McGuiness retired after a broken chain on lap 4. (bottom) Guy Martin, sitting in fourth, was also in disbelief after his drive chain broke.
However, Lap 4 was to provide real drama in true TT fashion when McGuiness was reported as having retired at Cruickshanks due to a broken chain. This handed the lead to Plater, who came in for his second pit stop with a comfortable lead of nearly 15 seconds over Cummins on his Kawasaki. However, despite a competent stop he nearly collided with Cummins on his way into his.
Martin now third having taken on a new rear tire then tried to exit the pits only to find he was going nowhere with mechanics waving wildly at a broken chain lying on the roadway. Understandably Martin was beside himself as he stood by the pit wall in total disbelief.
Jenny Tinmouth the only female rider managed to increase her lap to 116.83 mph to consolidate her position as the fastest lady rider.
At the end of the fifth lap Plater led Cummins by nearly 20 second with Ian Hutchinson having moved up to third place. Gary Johnson the first man away at the start was now up to fourth with Adrian Archibald taking fifth. The lap speeds had dropped to 124 mph again due to the pit stops at the end of the previous lap.
So the sixth lap saw Plater cruise to a comfortable win by 19.5 seconds from the 23-year-old Kawasaki-mounted Conor Cummins, who now becomes the fastest Manxman around the TT course. Gary Johnson took third on a Honda. It was also a race record average of 128.278 mph. Honda’s win gives them 19 in the class which equals Norton’s record in the premier class.
Gary Johnson joined the first two riders on the Senior TT podium to give Honda its 19th class win at the Isle of Man races.
Just when it looked like Hutchinson was going to take the overall prize and £10,000 bounty he slid off at the beginning of the sixth and final lap, fortunately with no injury. The list of retirements grew rapidly and included Michael Dunlop, amongst many other notables and in the end there was just 29 finishers out of over 70 that started, as rain was falling on part of the course meaning the riders were flagged in at the end of their fifth lap on safety grounds.
So as the day drew to a close, it certainly has been one of the most memorable and historic events in the 102-year history of the TT. Those present at this year’s event also witnessed a historic event in the same way that those spectators did in 1907!