Welshman Ian Lougher, riding the Team Flitwick Paton that Olie Linsdell rode to victory in last year’s race, took the honours in the Bennetts 500cc Classic TT Racenon the Isle of Man. The Welshman, known as ‘Lucky Lougher’ overcame a thirty second pit lane penalty in the process, after John McGuinness, Ryan Farquhar and Michael Rutter all retired when leading.
After a delayed start due to wet roads, the first Race of the Isle of Man Classic TT presented by Bennetts finally roared into life at 2pm.
John McGuinness was first away on the Team Winfield Paton with Mick Godfrey, a replacement for the injured John Barton, on the Dunnell Racing Norton ten seconds behind him.
With last year’s race winner Olie Linsdell a late withdrawal with a cracked frame, all eyes were on John McGuinness and the Morecambe missile powered into an eight second lead over Flitwick Motorcycles rider Ian Lougher at the first timing checkpoint at Glen Helen, with McGuinness’s teammate Ryan Farquhar holding third place, less than a second behind Lougher.
However McGuinness retired at Ginger Hall with a front brake problem, leaving Lougher to move to the front. Other early retirements on the opening lap included William Dunlop at Ballacraine and Roy Richardson at Appledene while Alan Oversby also stopped at Braddan Bridge although he did continue after making adjustments.
Farquhar hit the front and established a 2.5 second lead over Lougher by Ramsey with Dan Cooper on the Specialised Glazing Solutions Team Molnar Manx Norton moving into the top three, twenty seconds behind the race leader.
Both Farquhar and Lougher were the only riders who elected to pit for refuelling at the end of the first lap with Farquhar’s 109.826mph giving him a lead of almost six and a half seconds over Lougher. However Lougher incurred a 30 second penalty for speeding in the pits, which dropped him to eighth.
After Farquhar’s pit, Dan Cooper moved narrowly into the lead, less than a second ahead of Michael Rutter on the Seeley G50 Matchless but Rutter moved into the lead by Ballaugh with Farquhar having made up time after his pit, looming less than seven seconds back in third. Norton riders Michael Dunlop (Molnar Manx) and Bruce Anstey (McIntosh Norton) were having a real head to head for fourth place with the pair swapping places over the Mountain Course.
That remained the top three at the end of the second lap with Rutter’s 109.102, the fastest single cylinder Mountain Course lap, giving him a lead of almost eight seconds from Farquhar (106.397) who held k1.6 second lead over Cooper with Dunlop holding fourth, 2 seconds in front of Anstey who completed the top five.
However, it was all change again on a sensational lap three with Farquhar stopping at Sulby Crossroads and Rutter retiring on the Mountain Mile which meant that at the end of the third lap, Dan Cooper was thirteen seconds ahead of Lougher, who had moved back through the field with a third lap of 110.550 to keep a Paton on the podium. Anstey moved ahead of Dunlop into third by the grandstand but Dunlop came into the pits at the end of the third and retired at the Grandstand.
Lougher’s was on a charge on the fourth lap and by Glen Helen had cut Cooper’s lead to only 2 seconds. The Welshman duly moved into the lead at the next checkpoint at Ballaugh with a lead of nine seconds and brought the bike home with a final lap of 111.523, which gave him victory by 34 seconds from Cooper with Bruce Anstey taking the final podium place.
Cheshire’s Connor Behan, riding a 61 Norton, finished fourth with Maria Costello on the Peter Beugger Paton completing the top five. Nine times TT Race winner Charlie Williams, in his first competitive race on the Mountain Course since 1984, finished a credible ninth with the added bonus of a 100mph lap on the second lap of the race, his first of the week.
Veteran competitor Dave Madsen-Mygdal, riding a Team Gimbert Honda, was the first privateer to finish in seventh.
Andrew Ryder came off at Joey’s on the Mountain section and was taken to Nobles by airmed but it was reported that his injuries weren’t serious.