Dean Harrison wins the 2015 Bennetts Classic TT 500cc on the Isle of Man

Fantasy Isle: Our Mark mans up in the pits to help MV racer to victory


An article by Mark Forsyth. First published in the Daily Star on 6th September 2015


JUST got back from my annual holiday on the Isle of Man. Well, it was supposed to be a holiday… Historically, I always made the pilgrimage to the TT in June.
But I much prefer the quieter sister event in August, the Festival of Motorcycling. It’s exactly the same 37-mile Mountain race circuit with exactly the same professional riders, except they’re all riding very noisy, very expensive historic race bikes rather than modern stuff. As a treat for the ears it takes some beating.

Eh? You what? PARDON? So as I awoke on the morning of race day, with a mild hangover, my phone had a text from a mate. Did I know anyone who could pit crew for their rider Dean Harrison on the ultra-exotic, three-cylinder 500 MV Agusta? I asked around my housemates to be met by blank stares. So I volunteered my services and instantly regretted it. Pressure and a hangover make for uncomfortable bedfellows.
The MVs were one of the favourites to win the prestigious 500cc race that day.
These lovingly crafted exact replicas of the bikes Giacomo Agostini rode in the late 60s/early 70s were hand built by Mark Kay in his Black Country workshop to exacting standards.





Pit stop for Dean Harrison on the winning MV Agusta


The winning lineup





Dean Harrison on his way to victory at the Classic TT 500cc


SWEET: Dean Harrison on his way to victory


He and his son Mitchell made every component on the bikes, from the cast alloy crankcases to the chassis.
They even cast and machined carburettors from scratch.
The price? £140,000, in case you were wondering what 2,000 man-hours and a pile of swarf the size of the Malverns costs.
The rivals were also replicas of ’60s Italian GP machinery – the Paton 500s. John McGuinness, Ryan Farquhar and Ian Lougher were all aboard Patons. Strong opposition.
With about an hour to go before the race start we filled our pitlane dump-fueller and arranged an assortment of crisis tools and the obligatory duct tape and cable ties. The four-lap race meant we had to do a fuel stop.
The MV would do three laps on a full tank but four was impossible, which was awkward as all the opposition could go race distance without stopping for gas.
Just like the TT, riders set off at ten second intervals.
Dean Harrison started number 12 and as we watched him howl off the line and head down Bray Hill our nervous waiting game began. A radio is your only way of knowing how your rider is getting on when a lap is 37 miles long. We listened intently to the commentary, fingers crossed, clenching teeth and grinding buttocks. Or something.




By Glen Helen, Dean had taken top spot. By Ramsey he had eeked out a small advantage over Lee Johnston on the sister MV. Twenty-two minutes later he flashed past us on the start of his second lap, averaging a blistering 110mph. Time to start getting ready. Flame-proof hood on. Gloves on. It was up to us three not to ruin his race. I can tell you from personal experience, it’s less stressful being a rider in this situation. It was my job to stand with my arms out and get Dean to stop with his front wheel between my legs, inset left.
There’s a fair degree of trust involved there. That’s me in the orange overalls and gimp mask at the front of the bike having not been run over by our rider.
Then I had to pull the R-clip from the tank and open the Monza cap for Pat the fueller before cleaning the flies off the screen, tickling the carbs (old school) and acting as determined push starter.
It was all over in the blink of an eye and Dean was away cleanly, still in the lead and with the MV sounding as sweet as a nut. A very loud nut, on open megaphones.
And we only bloody won. By 26 seconds. Which was nice.



the winning lineup at the Classic TT  500cc


PRO: Dean Harrison (Black Eagle MV Agusta) makes his pit stop



Dean Harrison wins the 2015 Bennetts Classic TT 500cc on the Isle of Man

Dean Harrison wins the 2015 Bennetts Classic TT 500cc on the Isle of Man