Many motorcycles in the Isle of Man TT go up in smoke. Many don't finish the race.

Bennetts Senior Classic winners

An Article by John Patterson

The 2016 Bennetts Senior Classic TT was nip 'n' tuck


John McGuinness in full flight

McGuinness in full flight

John McGuinness won his first Classic TT after four years of trying... 


... and this was the day after he had his maiden fall on the Mountain Course. But there were no such issues for the Morecambe man in the race, who led from the drop of the flag ceremoniously carried out by former GP and World Superbike star Pierfrancesco Chili.
Brothers Michael and William Dunlop were among the nonstarters, along with Ivan Lintin, while former winner Ian Lougher got no further than Union Mills on John Chapman’s four-cylinder Honda RC 181 which had been brought over for the classic racer parade lap.  It was a replacement in the race for an MV3 which had holed a piston in qualifying.
Frenchman Bruno Leroy only made it to Crosby on Patrick Godet’s Vincent, while Dan Hegarty stopped at Ballacraine on a Honda twin.  The race of attrition had well and truly started.


Many bikes in the Isle of Man TT don't finish the race.


McGuinness was 1.5 seconds ahead of Dean Harrison’s Black Eagle Racing MV Agusta at Glen Helen, Maria Costello third on Peter Buegger’s Paton.

This was ultimately to be the rostrum positions, although there was to be quite a bit of toing and froing along the intervening 143 miles.Harrison had edged into a 0.2 sec lead at Ballaugh, but local man Conor Cummings failed to reach his home town of Ramsey after his Winfield Paton stopped at Quarry Bends.  This elevated Alan Oversby up the order at the hairpin on the Davies Motorsport Honda, 12 seconds down on Costello, and one second in front of Michael Rutter on the Ripley Land Seeley Matchless.

There was little between Harrison and McGuinness over the mountain section and the pair arrived Cronk-ny-Mona separated by 0.19 of a second.

McGuinness broke the timing beam first, but Harrison was 0.366 of a second ahead on corrected time, with a lap record average speed of 112.077mph.

Costello was going great guns on her Paton, holding off Rutter, Oversby, Jamie Coward and the rest of the posse, albeit more than 50sec off the pace of the leading pair. 



Bennetts Classic TT


Many bikes in the Isle of Man TT go up in smoke. Many don't finish the race.


Dean Harrison in the Bennetts Senior Classic TT


Harrison, with a starting number of 12, was up to second on the road at Glen Helen, 0.962 of a second up on McGuinness.  The gap to third had already gone out to more than one minute.
McGuinness’s twin was faster than the triple on the mountain climb and he had halved Harrison’s advantage at the Bungalow.Somewhat surprisingly, McGuinness did not pit, instead, shooting straight down Glencrutchery Road on a second flying lap.  His 113.342mph was the first sub-20 minute lap in Senior Classic TT history, opening up an instant five second lead over Harrison who had slowed to enter the pits.  By the time he left, the gap was up to 48 seconds.
It was a canny move by the Winfield team, but one which later would prove controversial.
Rutter retired in the pits with a split fuel tank on the G50 that required the assistance of the resident fire and rescue crew.
By Glen Helen on lap three, the lead was 58 seconds, Harrison’s MV taking a while to get back up to pace on a full load of fuel while McGuinness’s Paton was running on a considerably lighter load with less than seven litres remaining in the tank - although he would have to fill up at the end of the lap.
At Ramsey, McGuinness was more than one minute clear on corrected timing, with the gap to third almost another two minutes more.  But would this be enough for McGuinness to retain the lead?

With James Hillier’s CSC Honda stopping at Ramsey bus station and seasoned campaigners Dave Madsen-Mygdal and Wattie Brown also listed as retirements, McGuinness thundered down the mountain for a quick splash and dash stop.  His 40-second top-up was considerably shorter than Harrison’s had been and the lead at Glen Helen was 21 seconds with 29  miles remaining.  Up to seventh on corrected timing was Driffield’s James Cotton, running downfield after suffering problems with Dave Kenah’s Manx Norton before the race and being granted an adjusted starting time at the rear of the grid.


Many bikes in the Isle of Man Classic TT go up in smoke.

Jamie Coward (Norton) and Oli Linsdell (Royal Enfield) were both on non-stop, single-tank fliers that would edge them up the finishing order.
Harrison failed to to make any impression on McGuinness in the final half lap and at Ramsey, the lead had stretched to 24 seconds.  It dropped back marginally to 21.7s at the Bungalow but the race was well and truly in the bag.  
“Brilliant, we have been trying so hard for the last four years to win that,” said McGuinness after his  first finish in the Classic TT>. “It has been do frustrating for Pat and Roger Winfield and the team.”
It was a bit of a boxing match to begin with, there was nothing in it but I kept hammering on,” he added, holding up his fingers that had gone white with the vibration from the Italian twin.
“I was told to rev it to 11,000 , but I was going to 11,500 most of the time.  We changed the gearing and it was perfect.  I kept my concentration right to the end.
“There were a lot of leaves around under the trees and I hit a bird on the mountain.  It was the first time in 24 years of racing that I’ve worn earplugs.”
McGuinness’s overall time beat Oli Linsdell’s race record from the first Classic TT by almost 1 minute.



Dean Harrison in second place


Dean Harrison maintained his second place for most of the race




Many bikes in the Isle of Man Classic TT races go up in smoke.


Harrison only realised that his rival was going for a fuel stop after three laps when he saw his pit board jump out to -46 seconds. “I knew it would be close so I got my head down and went for it from the start.  This bike’s not missed a beat all week, I’m pleased with the result,” he said.
Maria Costello recorded a final lap of 108.686 to finish 3 minutes 10 seconds behind Harrison, a comfortable 44 seconds ahead of fourth-placed Coward. 
“This is so, so special.  After 20 years racing round the wonderful TT course, this is my proudest moment,” she said.
“To spray champagne on this podium alongside a legend like John McGuinness makes all the hard work and sacrifice worth it.  I can’t stop smiling. 
“Peter and Barbara Beugger of Switzerland have been so generous allowing me to race their beautiful Paton for the past few years, but this year we were invited to the Barry Sheene Festival of Speed in Australia, which gave us valuable track time.  The helped put us on the front foot for the Classic TT.” Behind Oversby in sixth spot was leading privateer Dominic Herbertson on a similar Honda. 

“I didn’t expect that .  It’s an honour to be in the winners’ enclosure alongside such legends,” he said.  “It’s only my second time on a classic bike and I found I was trying to out-break myself all the time.”

Danny Webb rode Tony Dunnell’s Norton to seventh on front of Bill Swallow’s Moto Paton, Oil Linsdell’s Enfield and Austrian Horst Saiger on the first of the Egli Vincents.

Nick Jefferies (Norton) was the meat in an Owen family sandwich between Hefyn and Bob.  It was 64-year old Nick’s 91st race on the course.
One of the riders of the race came from Philip McGurk of Oldham who became the first BSA Gold Start rider to lap the Mountain Course more than the ton. Averaging 99.939mph on Dave Hardman’s single, his quickest lap was 101.030mph on the second circuit. 






Many bikes in the Isle of Man Classic TT races go up in smoke.

Dean Harrison and Lee Johnston to ride MVs for Black Eagle Racing at the Classic TT

John McGuinness wins

Dean Harrison and Michael Dunlop raced MVs for Black Eagle Racing

Many bikes in the Isle of Man Classic TT races fail to finish.