Saturday 17th August 2019

All Systems are Go....or maybe not!!

The opening practices for the Festival of Motorcycling (MGP / Classic TT) are due to commence today at 5:20 pm on Saturday; the roads will close at 5 pm.

The first practice session should have started with the speed controlled lap for all newcomers, there are 31 in the MGP and 5 in the Classic TT. The timed session was due to follow at 5:35pm with Senior / Junior MGP machines along with the Lightweight and Superbike Classic machines. The Lightweight and Ultra Lightweight MGP machines along with the Senior and Junior Classic TT bikes would then start their practice at 6:35 pm. The evening was due to end with another untimed lap for the newcomers.

That was the plan, sadly it didn't happen. The weather was fine but breezy and the track conditions were dry with a few damp patches under the trees in the usual places. The issue was the lack of marshals, sector after sector reported that they were under allowed manning levels in certain areas. Appeals went out, over the tetra radio, for Deputy Sector Marshals with excess to minimum manning to release these marshals to support the other areas. As you can imagine this took a considerable time, Marshal Course cars were used to transport the marshals to where they were needed.

Marshals now in place, a rain front coming in from the west had arrived and soaked the course from Ballacraine through to Ramsey, causing another delay. The entertainment at Quarterbridge, up until 7:30 pm, had been three Travelling Marshals, one Marshals Course car and one Course Inspection car.
All of the nights timed sessions had beed scrapped, however, the untimed newcomers timed controlled lap did get away at 7:35 pm much to the relief of all concerned. At least the hardy spectators who stayed saw a little bit of action.

The proposed Sunday afternoon practice was called off on Sunday morning due to a lack marshals!! There needs to be a thorough investigation regarding marshal cover and how delays / postponements can be avoided. The involvement of external agencies such as the Civil Defence, Adventure Scouts etc to support in times of shortages could or should be investigated. The disappointment to the officials, riders / teams, marshals and spectators was clear to see on Saturday evening. The creditability of the event is put into question.

Practice will continue daily throughout this coming week, marshal cover and weather permitting.

Interesting there is no one way system across the Mountain, the road will remain two way for the duration of the event. On the bright those spectating and stuck on top will not have an hours delay waiting for the cones to be put out before the road opens. The Roads Open car will do a continuous lap.

The tradition of winning a MGP race and then not being able to defend the title no longer applies. 2018 winners Andy Farrell (Lightweight MGP), Darryl Tweed (Ultra-Lightweight) are competing as are Alistair Haworth and Nigel Moore, both being previous winners.

The Classic TT entry is littered wit TT stars, however Peter Hickman and Ian Hutchinson haven't entered. It was great to see Bruce Anstey
looking fit and well in the paddock and raring to get back onto the Mountain Course. Bruce is riding the Milenco by Padgett's Motorcycles 250 Honda in the Lightweight Classic; he is the current lap record holder of this class. What price a Bruce win?

Michael Dunlop is entered in the Superbike Classic TT, the big question is will he be fit enough to tackle 4 laps of the Mountain Course? He broke his pelvis when he high sided exiting Castletown Corner during the S100, when nursing a shoulder injury sustained in a car rally crash a week or to earlier. Subsequently he has won the superbike races at his home circuit in Armoy, even though he was on crutches and needed assistance to get on and off his bikes; shades of Mick Grant years ago at the TT. Following his success at Armoy he pulled out of the Superbike races at the Ulster Grand Prix. Michael is a determined and complex character and not everyone's cup of tea. One thing is for sure and that is that any race meeting with Michael in the line up is the better for it. A fit Michael Dunlop will be a rider to watch and I, for one, hope that he can push for a much needed confidence boosting victory.

The Classic TT Races will be celebrating the achievements of TT Legend Steve Hislop during the festival. A host of past and present stars will be in the Classic TT parade lap including Giacomo Agostini, Carl Fogarty, Chris Walker, Ian Simpson, Brian Morrison, John McGuinness, Michael Rutter, Steve Plater and Steve Parrish.

The Festival of Jurby, hosted by the Vintage Motorcycle Club, is being held on Sunday 25th August will have Giacomo Agostini and Carl Fogarty heading the Legends line up.

Sammy Miller is bringing over a 250cc ex-factory Mondial and 250 Rennsport NSU. If you are visiting Hampshire and particularly the New Forest, the Sammy Miller Museum in New Milton is a must to visit. There is something for everyone connected with motorcycles to be interested in.

Dick Shepherd will have his 1965 Daytona 200 wining 500cc Triumph twin and a current brand new Moto 2 Triumph. Des Connor will have his MV and Dennis Bunning will be riding his 250cc Honda-6. It should be a great day out.


Dominic Herbertson and Jaime Coward sharing a joke

 Bruce Anstey, looking fit and well, chatting to Connor Cummins.

Newcomer Terence Sansom completing his speed controlled lap on his Junior Classic TT 350 Honda

 French newcomer William Piquet, 125 RS Honda, clearly delighted with his first ever closed roads lap around the Mountain Course

Mike Hammonds