MIKE HAMMONDS TT BLOG PAGES
Practice for the Pre-TT Classic Finally Gets Underway
It has been 3 years since the last Pre-TT Classic but the scene hasn’t changed. The same hustle and bustle in the paddock, the chaos of the S100 Headquarters car park and the excitement in the Race Office. Press Officer Phil Edge, whose wit is drier than the Sahara Desert, was there to sign in the media for their various passes. The 35th anniversary of the Pre TT Classic was ready to go.
The weather was fine with a bit of a breeze but nothing to worry the riders. As ever with the S100 Club, everything was ready and the road closed bang on 5 past 6 with a full complement of marshals all of the way around the course.
Manx Radio have increased their coverage of the event and were there to cover the Friday night practice for the first time. Tim Glover was in the bus at the Start / Finish straight, Chris Kinley was in the holding area and Rob Pritchard was at Cross Four Ways. Roy Moore who took over from TTSC President Charlie Williams a few years ago has retired leaving a vacancy which Rob has filled.
The commentary was as professional as ever, Chris had a problem picking up the results on his tablet due to the wi-fi signal being blocked by a van. I am sure that the van will not be there on Saturday!!
The Newcomers were first away doing their controlled sighting laps behind a travelling marshal. I went to Church Bends which had changed in any way except for a few more headstones in the cemetery. Sadly George, who had marshalled from the cemetery for years, had succumbed to an illness in the interim.
There were 20 solo and 6 sidecar newcomers who were treated to a couple of sighting laps under the guidance of the travelling marshals. The event consists of 8 solo races, including a consolation race, and 2 sidecar races. Each practice session lasts 12 minutes giving enough time for most competitors to complete 4 laps.
Once practicing has started the event runs like clockwork, as one session finishes the next session starts. The riders have their bikes warming up in the holding area as they are out practicing on another machine. Sadly the event did come to a halt when Sam Kinkead parted company with his 500cc Seeley Matchless at Iron Gate on the out lap for the Senior Classic practice, the last solo practice of the evening. The red flag went out and the practice was stopped.
Four riders pulled into Church Bends including Jaime Coward on his 500cc Craven Manx Norton. A warm sunny evening had quite suddenly become a cloudy and very chilly late May evening. The riders were held for about quite a while and during this time the temperature was dropping and the light was fading. The sidecars did manage to get out for practice but only had time to complete two timed laps before the chequered flag was shown.
I presume sidecar crews get used to being at the back of the programme but it must be frustrating not to have the same practice time as the solo’s. The chairs are certainly no less exciting, entertaining or dangerous than the solo’s and need just as much set up and practice time. This is an issue at all motorcycling events, the sidecars are generally the last to go out and practice and race. Rod Bellas and Glenn Dawson topped the leaderboard with a lap of 81.070mph on their 1200 B L R Imp. Paul Williams was the fastest solo of the night in the Senior Post Classic class with a lap of 98.205mph on his 750cc Kawasaki ZXR.
It was a pity that the red flag put a damper on a thoroughly entertaining evening’s practice. I hope Sam recovers quickly from his spill and is back on the track soon. The 3 year hiatus is over and it certainly didn’t feel like 3 years since the last Pre TT Classic took place.
The weather forecast is good for Saturday when there is more practicing in the afternoon and then the first 3 races of the 10 race programme will take place racing in the evening. All practice times and race results can be found on the S100 website: Southern100.com