The classic racing event which will open the 2011 Isle of Man TT fuelled by Monster Energy festivities has been forced to add two extra races to cope with demand.
The Pre-TT Classic Road Races are held around the Billown circuit in the south of the Isle of Man over the opening weekend of the TT fortnight.
The opening practice session on the 4.25-mile circuit in Castletown is scheduled for May 27, with further practice and the first races on May 28 and the main race day on May 30, which is the first day of this year’s TT.
The popularity of the event among racers has led to the organisers adding two extra races to the programme to cope with the number of entries.
The schedule has been changed to allow for a Support Race for oversubscribed entries from the 250cc Lightweight, 350cc Junior, 500cc Senior and Post Classic Races.
Also as a result of the large number of entries received for the combined 850cc Classic Race and Post Classic Superbike Race this race will now be split into two separate races.
The additional races will also be run over nine laps.
The entry list reads like the ‘Who’s Who’ of classic racing and includes eight previous winners in the Solo classes and three winning crews in the Sidecar race.
Chris Palmer, a six-time winner in the classic races, has a trio of machines at his disposal courtesy of Ripley Land. Chris McGahan has a pair of Honda machines at his disposal along with a Miles Trident.
Scot Ewan Hamilton also has three machines in his stable, a brace of 250s from Japan, a Suzuki and a Yamaha, along with his trust 500 Seeley Matchless. Terry Kermode, a winner in 2008, goes one better with a pair of Italian Aermacchi singles and a pair of Japanese Yamaha twins, in both cases 250cc and 350cc capacity for the various races he has entered.
Former Motocross and Speedway star turned road racer Arthur Browning has a brace of Seeley machines to campaign the 2011 meeting on, while Roger Birkenhead will have a 250 Greeves and a 250 Ducati ready to race with Rich Hawkins preferring the 350cc version of the Ducati for his races.
Twice a winner of the 250cc Singles race, Yorkshireman Ted Fenwick, now a spritely 83-year-old, returns on his 250cc Ducati hoping to make it three victories on his Italian marque.
Another Yorkshireman makes a welcome return to Billown. Bill Swallow has 14 classic wins to his name and will be looking to add to his tally and equal or better the record 15 wins held by Bob Heath.
Nick Houghton and Paul Thomas, who dominated the Sidecar races in 2008 and 2009, will be hoping to regain the winners laurel wreaths in 2011 from last year’s victors Vince and Phil Biggs, while the popular German crew of ex-World Champions Ralf Engelhardt and passenger Winfried Viecenz will be racing their familiar BMW outfit and wanting to take the laurel wreaths back to Germany.
There are six competitors from the Czech Republic - Vladimir Kotland, Milan Sramek, Jirt Tenk, Zdenek Hrncal, Robert Novak and Michal Jerabek are all making their debut on the Billown course.
Milan Sramek will race a brace of 250cc and 350cc Walter CZ machines with Jirt Tenk and Zdenek Hrncal riding 250cc and 175cc versions of the CZ single. Robert Novak will compete in the Senior race on a 500 ESO Rickman whilst Vladimir Kotland and Michal Jerabek are entered on Yamaha and Honda machines in the Superbike class.
The opening practice session for the Pre-TT Classic Road Races will take place on the evening of May 27, followed by final qualifying and one race, the 250cc/350cc Singles, on the afternoon of May 28. The main Race Day is Bank Holiday Monday, May 30, and the unique Prize Presentation and Concours D’Elegance takes place in Castletown Square on the afternoon of June 1.