A sunny afternoon; dry roads and a cool breeze gave almost perfect conditions for afternoon practice and evening races at the Pre-TT Classic on the Billown Circuit. The practice action was excellent at Ballabeg; where some old acquaintances were renewed. The speeds were up from the first session and we saw some interesting manoeuvres; with three low speed incidents in which only pride was hurt. The slip road had a few customers; most notably Dominic Herbertson.
Ballakeighan was the vantage point for the first races of the programme. It can be interesting at the 90-degree right hand bend; especially on the first lap as the field tries to squeeze through. It was good to see the famous badge man; Konni Ammenhauser amongst the spectators, looking well and enjoying the racing.
For the first race was the SP-R Singles Race; split into to 350cc and 250cc classes; the polesitters were Mike Hose and Barry Davidson. Hose was rapid away from the lights and had a clear lead from David Tetley and Bill Swallow as they powered away to Iron Gate. In fourth and leading the 250cc class was newcomer Andy Hunt. Barry Davidson was second with Geoff Bates; leading a group of four in third position. A notable absentee was four times winner Keith Shannon; his absence due to machine problems.
Hose pulled steadily away from the field and was able to ease his pace later in the race to secure another victory. Swallow was ahead of Tetley on lap 2 and then pulled away from him to secure second place in a race that he has won many times. Hunt was proving a revelation; he finished fourth overall and took the 250cc win from Barry Davidson; Geoff Bates completed the podium party.
The next race was the A D Hewitt 1100cc Race. The field was a mix of the Senior (500cc) machines; with Tridents, Weslakes and a Norton Commando. Dominic Herbertson was the pole sitter, and it was he who made the fastest start. He was first into Ballakeighan with a 20m lead over the pack which was led by Alan Oversby and Jamie Coward. Mike Hose had a poor star leaving himself with some work to do. Lap two saw Herbertson well ahead of the very close duel between Oversby and Coward that would last to the end of the race and was ultimately settled in favour of Oversby by 0.034s. Behind them was a trio comprising of newcomer Andy Hornby, Rob Hodson; who was to retire on lap 4 and Mike Hose.
Herbertson was noted to be looking at the left side of the machine as he completed lap 3. He managed to nurse the bike home to win by 2.92s from Oversby and Coward; who took the fastest lap honours on his final lap. Hose took fourth from the impressive Hornby; with Hefyn owen completing the leader board at the end of a very entertaining race.
The final race of the evening was the four laps 3 Wheeling Sidecar Race. For this race it was the inside of the corner to get really close to the machines as they hugged the kerb. Pole sitters Rod Bellas / Glenn Dawson had a slight lead and the inside line as the outfits powered through the corner for the first time. Second place was held by first time driver Danny Quirk (previously a passenger) and Dylan Wilson. Third place was held by newcomer David Lissaman / Mark Leeton. They were to encounter problems later and limped home to finish 12th. The lead increased as the race progressed with Bellas securing the win by 14.8s. The experienced pairing of Tony Thirkell and Trevor Johnson were up to third on lap 2 and maintained that place to the finish. Newcomers Marvin Vermeulin / Jouk Hanh took fourth and with a best lap of 82.784mph; very creditable.
Sunday sees the first practice for the TT on the Mountain Course. Monday sees a full programme at Billown during the day; then evening practice on the Mountain Course.