MIKE HAMMONDS TT BLOG PAGES
It was the most remarkable days racing the Island has probably ever seen. Yet again the record books were ripped up and thrown in the bin, many riders achieving their personal best.
The conditions were perfect for racing, warm with slightly overcast sky (avoiding a glaring sun) and a clean and dry road. The delay in the days program was the delaying of the roads open car at the end of the day. James Hillier's Kawasaki had blown its engine and left oil on the course at Barregarroo. After the Senior had finished an inspection car was sent out, after the seven VIP paid cars, to escort a road sweeper from Ballacraine to Barregarroo, this would clean the road and be taken off at Douglas Road corner in Kirk Michael.
The first race of the day was the Locate IM Sidecar Race, as in Race 1 it became a battle between the Birchalls and John Holden / Lee Cain. Holden and Cain initially leading before the Birchalls finished the lap in front. The second lap was historic with the Birchalls becoming the first crew to lap the Mountain Course in under 19 minutes with a lap of 18 minutes 59.01 seconds, an average speed of 119.250 mph. Holden and Cain also set their fastest ever lap, 117.878 mph, as did Tim Reeves / Matty Wilkes in 19 minutes 13.73 seconds, 117.729mph.
Ben & Tom Birchal
Ben and Tom went on to win by 22.92 seconds from John and Lee, setting a new race record of 57 minutes 25.04 seconds, an average speed of 118.281, a brilliant ride. Tim and Mark took the final rostrum place, averaging 116.967mph. Thirty three crews had lined up on the Glencrutchery Road with twenty two completing the race. The first nine finishers had a average over the 110 mph, Estelle Leblond and Melanie Farnier becoming the first female crew to achieve this marque. There were 4 silver and nine bronze replicas awarded.
A great crowd gathered for the prize presentation in the pit lane on Friday evening where all crews received a great reception. Ben and Tom Birchall were very dignified when interviewed by Charlie Williams and said what a privilege it was to race on the Mountain Course; Tom has now equalled Daniel Sayle's record of eight TT wins as a passenger. John Holden missed the presentation, having to dash off to visit injured wife Fiona Baker Holden.
The Birchalls take the spoils
The final race of TT 2018 was the blue riband Senior TT and like the sidecar race this did not disappoint. The race became a battle royal between Dean Harrison and Peter Hickman. Michael Dunlop, although being third at the end of the first lap was never in contention to challenge the leaders and eventually finished fourth, over 2 minutes 37 seconds behind the winner.
Dean led all the way throughout the race with Hickman hard on his tail. Harrison was fastest through the lower part of the course whereas Hickman was quickest over the open spaces of the Mountain, road racer versus short circuit racer.
Hickman put a near perfect lap together on the final circuit to overhaul Dean and in doing so he lifted the outright lap record to a staggering 16 minutes 42.778 seconds, 135.452mph. Dean Harrison also beat his old outright lap record, set in the Superbike Race, with a final lap of 134.918 mph.
There were 40 finishers out the 63 starters, due to the exceptionally fast pace only 7 silver and 16 bronze replicas were awarded.
After 22 years of racing on the Mountain Course, former MGP winner, Ian Pattison announced his retirement prior to finishing 29th in his final race. He had promised his wife he would retire when he became 50 years old.
The curtain came down on one of the greatest TT Races ever, race and lap records broken in all events. Brilliant racing and brilliant weather, this year will long linger in the memory.
After all the excitement and jubilation there is also sadness and it would be remiss not to think of Dan Kneen and Adam Lyon and of their family and friends . They, unfortunately are left with a difference legacy.