Saturday 24th August 2019

Miracle Man

The two extremes of emotion were felt on Saturday at the Classic TT, the elation for Bruce Anstey and John McGuinness in winning the Lightweight and Senior races and the abject low felt in hearing the news that Chris Swallow had lost his life following a crash at Ballaugh during the Senior race. Sincere condolences to Chris's family, friends and his team, may he rest in peace.

The frustration of the week spilled out on Saturday morning; shortly before the road was due to close at 11:00 am a bike stopped on the Mountain with oil leaking from his machine, instead of pulling off the road he carried on and put oil on the track. This, of course, had to be cleaned before any practicing or racing could take place. Gary Thompson was understandably furious with this needless delay.

When practicing did finally get underway the highlight was without doubt Nathan Harrisons unofficial Junior MGP lap record of 120.674 mph on his Chris Preston / Quayside Tyres 600 Honda. Other notable laps were from Newcomers A rider Pierre-Yves Bian (600 Yamaha / Martimotos.com) at 115.550 mph, Newcomers B rider Andrea Majola (Paton) at 110. 631 mph and MGP Lightweight competitor Francesco Curinga at 112.888 mph. David Stiff was fourth fastest in the Newcomers B practice at 93.690 mph, this should now qualify him for the Newcomers B race on Monday.

The Senior Classic TT was originally due to start at 11:30 am, with the extra practice slotted in, it eventually started at ten to two. John McGuinness led a disappointing small field of only 36 riders from the start line. Sadly the race was red flagged on the first lap following Chris Swallow's crash at Ballaugh. The restart, at 4 pm, had only 31 riders on the grid; just 19 made to the chequered flag of a shortened to 3 lap race. The evergreen John McGuinness (Team Winfield Paton) won, beating Stefano Bonetti (Speed Motor Paton) by just over 27 seconds into second with Jamie Coward (Ted Woof / Craven Manx Norton) in third.

The Steve Hislop, 'Back to the Future: The Hizzy Years Commemorative Lap' was next on the track. Brain Morrison led the way riding one of Hizzy's superbikes, he was followed by John McGuinness (ABUS Norton), Phil McCallan (Castrol Honda ), Ian Simpson, Carl Fogarty (998 Ducati), Stuart Easton (Cadbury Boost Yamaha)) and Steve Plater (Virgin Mobile). Steve's mother and two sons flagged the riders off from the start line. Carl Fogarty had a water issue and stopped at Quarterbridge before retiring at Union Mills

The emotional race of the day was the Lightweight Classic TT, there probably wasn't a person on the Island who wasn't willing Bruce Anstey (250 Honda / Milenco by Padgett's Motorcycles) to win. After being sidelined by illness for two years he has come back to his beloved Mountain Course and led every practice session. Starting at #5 the race was no different, he led every one of the three laps to beat team mate Davy Todd (250 Honda / Milenco by Padgett's Motorcycles) by 10.245 seconds with nineteen year old James Hind (250 Yamaha) in third. Bruce raised his partner Annie at the finish and thanked Clive Padgett for his continued support. He received a standing ovation as he completed his final circuit, everyone was willing him to the finish line.

Bruce Anstey has written another page into the folklore of the Mountain Circuit, probably the most gifted rider of his generation and certainly one of the most modest and likeable. Hopefully we will see him back fully fit for TT 2020.

Lee Johntson heading to the paddock

Fuel filler tanks being put out in the Pit Lane

John McGuinness heading for victory in the Classic Senior TT

Foggy, checking for a water leak at Quarterbridge during the Hizzy commemorative lap.

Bruce Anstey ahead of Team mate Davy Todd at Quarterbridge on lap two of the Ligtweight Classic TT

Mike Hammonds