The forecast for Wednesday was for being fine during the day and then rain later in the evening. I took a trip into Douglas to see how it looked out of TT time. For a town that is entertaining passengers from cruise ships it looked very tired. The railway station end of the North Quay, where once they tried to install a cafe / bistro style pavement culture was run down with decaying empty premises. The promenade was no better than at TT, a nightmare to negotiate down. The once thriving beach was empty bar a lonely dog walker, not a deck chair, towel or bather in sight. The beach itself has been left behind that of Port Erin or Peel. In truth, as the capital of the Isle of Man, Douglas looks like it has lost pride in itself. The Manx Government and Douglas Corporation should be ashamed at how the town has been allowed to look so dowdy. Hopefully, when the islands financial situation improves, they will invest in the town and make it more welcoming to visitors. You have only one chance to make a first impression.

The paddock was its customary laid back atmosphere, no signs of tension or of people rushing around. It is a far cry from the hussle and bussle of the TT paddock. There was, however, a distinct lack of kids hunting autographs and looking for their favourite rider, which did surprise me.

I decided to go to Iron Gate for the evening's races, not a place I have photographed from before. I wasn't disappointed, it is an excellent vantage point.The clouds had rolled in by the time racing started but they were still high in the sky and with a little bit of luck the nights programme will have been fulfilled before the rain lands.

The first race was the Ellan Vannin Fuels Senior race for 1000 cc machines. Dean Harrison (Silicone Kawasaki) dominated the race and ended up being a clear winner by just over 10 seconds from Michael Dunlop (TYCO BMW), he in turn was just over 15 seconds ahead of Jamie Coward (Yamaha). It was a good race but the winner was never in doubt.

Sixth placed Sam West (BMW) leading 5th placed finisher Ryan Kneen into Iron Gate in the Ellan Vannin Fuels Senior Race

Next up was Race 2B, the JKC 600 Race, this was for those riders who had qualified but did not get into the main 600 race. This was an amazing race with the lead changing hands throughout and at the end only 3.140 seconds separated the first 7 finishes. The winner, Lee Hambury (Yamaha), had come from ninth position after the first lap to taking the flag at the end of seventh. The margin of victory was just 0.773 of a second from Frankie Stennett (Kawasaki) with Ben Shuttlewood (675 Triumph Daytona) 0.876 of second behind in third.

Lee Hambury scything through the field on his Yamaha to win the JCK Ltd 600 B race

Just when you thought racing couldn't get much closer the Radcliffe Butchers 600 Race was about to prove me wrong. Mikey Evans (Honda, Wilcock Construction) got the hole shot and lead the field away. Evans, Dean Harrison (Silicone Kawasaki), Jamie Coward (Prez Racing Yamaha), Dominic Herbertson (Kawasaki, Davies Motorsport, Belgrave Motor Company} and Nathan Harrison (Chris Preston Suzuki) were nose to tail. Michael Dunlop trailed at the back of the pack and pulled in at the end of the first lap, it wasn't his day. Coward led Dean Harrison as they went through Iron Gate on the second lap with the others closely behind. The front two extended their lead throughout with Evans and Nathan Harrison in close company, Herbertson dropping off the pace. Dean and Jamie were clearly having fun with the lead changing, each showing the other a wheel. At the end Dean Harrison took the flag by just 0.416 of a second from Jamie. The third place battle, although over 26 seconds behind the front two, was won by Mikey Evans by 0.513 s ahead of Nathan Harrison. Brilliant battles took place throughout the field, an outstanding race.

The first lap wagon train in the Radcliffe Butchers 600 cc A race

The Mike Kerruish 250 / 650 cc Race was not going to be out done, another battle royal ensued. The race was dominated by the Dominic Herberston (650 Kawasaki / RC Express Dafabet Devitt Racing) and Rob Hodson (650 Kawasaki), they were inches apart for all of the 6 laps. Herbertson squeezed through at the end, winning by just 0.2 of a second, 35th on the all time closest finishes. Jonathon Perry {Kawasaki) completed the podium and newcomer Xavier Denis, also Kawasaki mounted came home fourth. The first 250 home was Jon Snow on his Falcon Honda Moto 3 machine in seventeenth position.

Dominic Herbertson snatching the lead from Rob Hodson in the Mike Kerruish 250 / 650 cc Super Twins Race

The last race of the evening was, as ever, the Ace Hire Sidecar Race. Although still warm, the cloud base had lowered and there was rain in the air. John Lowther and Robert Childs only got as far as the Iron Gate on the parade lap from Parc Ferme to the Start Line, John said that the bike had thrown a rod. They had only got a couple of hundred yards further down the road than they had done the previous night when the clutch plate disintegrated. Hopefully he will get the engine changed and be out again on Thursday.


John Lowther and Robert Childs pulling into Iron Gate with a blown engine


John Lowther and Robert Childs in the gloom at Iron Gate just before the heavens opened

Tim Reeves was first away as the lights went out, followed by the two Founds outfits and John Holden. By Iron Gate the field was nose to tail Reeves / Wilkes, Pete Founfds / Walmsley, Alan Founds / Jake Lowther, John Holden / Lee Cain, Lee Crawford / Scott Hardie, Steve and Matty Ramsden, Estelle Leblond / Frank Caeys and Conrad Harrison / Andy Winkle. Within seconds of the train passing disaster struck and the red flag was waved. There had been an incident on the approach to Ballabeg involving the Ramsdens and Estelle Le blond and Frank Claeys. The helicopter, ambulances and police vehicles were dispached to the scene. This was a time to hold your breath and fear the worst hadn't happened. There was no luck with the weather, the rain started to come down as we waited for news of a restart or that the roads would open. As it happens the rain fell heavier and the road was eventually opened between Ballabeg and Ballakeighan but not the stretch back to Ballabeg and passed the incident. There is no shelter at Ballabeg it was just a case of waiting and getting wet, John Lowther and Robert Childs sheltered under their helmets!! After some time we were allowed to leave in the direction of Ballakeighan, the news of the casualties was that they had all been taken to hospital but with non life threatening injuries. Queue a sigh of relief, hopefully there will be more good news tomorrow. A sad end to a magnificent evenings racing.


Estelle and Frank Claeys just seconds before their accident on the approach to Ballabeg

Mike Hammonds