2009 Isle of Man TT Round-up

June 15, 2009
Ian Kerr
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Our man in Europe, Ian delivers a monthly dose of those tasty rumors and hearsay from across the pond that make up our Euro Gossip column.

So after a record breaking week full of drama all that remains for any race fans left on the island is the racing on the 4.25 mile Billown road circuit near Castletown. This smaller, tighter circuit is normally home to the Southern 100 races run in July, but over the past few years has played an increasing part in TT fortnight by hosting a series of Classic Races before the main event and some 2-stroke races the day after to keep fans occupied while waiting for boats and planes to get home.

Steve Plater - Isle of Man Senior TT
HM Plant Honda’s Steve Plater won the Senior TT and thanks to the numerous DNFs from top competitors and his own consistency, took the Dunlop Trophy for the most points.

It now runs races for the 125cc machines and 250cc bikes that were taken out of the Isle of Man TT program a few years ago due to diminishing entries. It was felt at the time a move to bikes and classes seen racing at most mainland events would go down better with the fans and also mean that riders did not have to keep a bike specifically for the TT and thus reduce costs!

Called the Ultra- Lightweight and Lightweight TT, they continue to attract a growing entry despite what was thought, but for the die–hard TT fan they cannot be regarded as TT races as they are not run on a circuit that has ever been used for racing during the TT’s 102-year history! However, now sponsored by the local Motorsport Merchandise Company (who supplies all the officially licensed TT clothing for fans), the separate meeting attracted record crowds last year and it is expected to be popular again this year. Both races will be run over two eight-lap legs and will feature both riders specializing in the smaller classes as well as some top runners from the last week’s main event.

The Dunlop brothers for instance will be out in both classes, won repeatedly by their father Robert and uncle, TT legend Joey, when they were part of the main event. An interesting entry is that by Dan Sayle who passengered Dave Molyneux to victory in the sidecar race earlier this week. He will be riding an ex-GP Red Bull 125 KTM in an effort to improve on his second place last year amongst a field of almost exclusively Honda’s.

Guy Martin - Isle of Man Senior TT
Still winless in TT competition, Hydrex Honda’s Guy Martin did find the 2009 rostrum.

A final round-up of the main TT shows HM Plant rider Steve Plater getting the new Dunlop Trophy complete with a £10,000 check for having the best overall results of the week to go win his Senior win. Adrian Archibald confirmed his hold on the Martin Finnegan Trophy and scooped the 1000 euro prize and new Arai helmet, for the fastest Irishman during the week.

Needless to say that all involved with the historic TTXGP are more than happy with the way it went down and the general response from the crowds. It is clear that this historic event is just the start of machinery being raced that is not powered by an internal combustion engine.

On a negative front right at the end of the race week, local Manxman 58 year-old John Crellin, who had previously just ridden the Indian TORK entry in that historic event, was killed in an accident at the mountain box during the Senior TT towards the end of the race.

The matter is still being investigated at the time of writing, but suffice to say, he was an experienced TT competitor racing at both the TT and Manx Grand Prix events and our sympathies go to his family at this time.

So racing was an undoubted success and there was nothing but praise from the crowds regarding this aspect of the TT fortnight. However, it was not the same when talking about the other attractions available outside racing, with local business’s also quick to criticize the organization team for a perceived general lack of atmosphere.

Rob Marber  Team AGNI  - 2009 TTXGP eGrandPrix
Rob Barber gets ready to set off on his TTXGP-winning circuit of the Isle of Man road course. The TTXGP figures to return.

Superficially, it is true there were not the usual attractions on the Douglas sea front to support the famous Bushey’s beer tent at the Sea terminal end. There were no big screens and stunt riders each evening for the drinkers to watch while supping the local ale, but taking a broader look around shows there was plenty to do if you were prepared to look and travel.

I have already mentioned this week the superb Brittany Ferries sponsored photo exhibition, the ARE motorcycle museum. The Steve Colley and Purple Helmets display at Peel, which was reprised in the evenings at Onchan stadium to mention a few. Then there were the two sprints at Ramsey, owners club’s gatherings throughout the week, all across the island. The Manx museums display celebrating Honda’s 50 years at the TT, beach races and enduros and so on. To these you can add in the world famous RAF Red Arrows display making their yearly appearance and putting on a display which was breathtaking as always.

Staying in the sky, there was the ‘Blades’ display by piston-engined display team and the Aerosuperbatics Wing Walkers as well to entertain. The Norton Fireworks display in Douglas bay literally brought traffic to a halt on Wednesday night. In fact, there was plenty to keep you going; it was just that you needed to look around instead of the majority of attractions being just focused in one place.

Quite rightly the IOM Tourism department responded, pointing out at they had responded to last year’s visitor feedback which had described promenade activities as ‘tacky’ and wanted a more up-market type of entertainment. As a result this year, they had put on many events at the Villa Marina including concerts by groups like Whitesnake, which had been well attended. However, they would take into account visitor’s views this year and hopefully come up with a program that all will be happy with next year.

So if you have not yet visited the IOM make a date for next year’s June event, so you can witness the record breaking first hand and soak up a the atmosphere at a totally unique event in the world of two-wheeled motorsport. Given all that happened this year, it promises to be even more spectacular with even more going on. See you there!

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