Meetings 1971 - 1990

TT 1989

A new hero emerged in 1989, but, once more, all concerned left the Island with that familiar feeling in the pit of their stomachs following five deaths in practice and racing.

The victims included Phil Mellor, a former winner and surely one of the most popular riders to grace the Island circuit, and the very experience Steve Henshaw.

Emotions were so muddled as people left the races. They had witnessed a hat-trick of wins from Steve Hislop and a new absolute lap record at a truly amazing 121.34mph, but they had lost friends that the fans had all loved and respected.

Fans eagerly awaited the Joey Dunlop-Steve Hislop clash that stirred up memories of the epic Mike Hailwood-Giacomo Agostini duels of the Sixties, but sadly it was not to be.

Dunlop was badly injured in an Easter crash at Brands Hatch. Although he was passed fit by his doctor in Ireland, it was plain for all, including the ACU medical men, to see that he was not fit to ride, so he handed the stage over to Hislop. However, even Joey must have been staggered by the performance of the Scotsman.

That astonishing lap record came in the TT Formula One race, after he had given every indication in practice that history was about to be made. Riding an RC30 Honda, Hislop smashed the 120mph barrier from a standing start and on the second lap established that new record in just 18 minutes 39.4 seconds.

He had just one problem, when he mounted the kerb at Kirk Michael, but took the chequered flag with an advantage of 1 minute 42 seconds over teammate Brian Morrison, with Nick Jefferies third despite steering damper troubles with his Loctite Yamaha.

Hislop's first victory had come the night before in the Supersport 600 race, in which he saw off the challenge of Dave Leach's Yamaha, although Leach set a new lap record.

Hislop became the third rider to win three TT races in a week with a start-to-finish victory in the Senior.

Everybody was still numbed by the deaths of Mellor and Henshaw a couple of days earlier and some of the top men, including Morrison, Jamie Whitham and Ray Swann, had left the Island early, but this in no way detracted from Hislop's performance. Nobody could touch him as he calmly put in a couple of 120mph plus laps to win comfortably from the consistent Jefferies and Australian McGregor.

In the Junior race Hislop discovered just how fine the line between success and failure can be when he crashed his Honda at Quarry Bends while leading on the second lap. Ulsterman Johnny Rea built up a commanding lead, but Eddie Laycock put in a tremendous charge in the last couple of laps, failing to catch Rea at the finish by a mere 2.8 seconds.

Laycock had been following Hislop when he crashed and thought it was a bad accident, which slowed him up. It was only the sight of the chirpy Scot sitting on the wall and giving him the thumbs-up that spurred Laycock on, but it was too late.

TT Formula One World Champion Carl Fogarty won his first TT in the 750cc Production race. The Blackburn lad was involved in a heart-stopping duel with Honda teammate Hislop and Yamaha-mounted Dave Leach. Fogarty gambled with his pit stops to hold a 1.8 seconds advantage over Leach following a superb lap during which Leach's exhaust broke loose.

Robert Dunlop, Joey's younger brother, upheld the family name by winning the first 125cc race on the Mountain Course for 15 years, while Dave Leach made up for his disappointment in the 750cc Production race by winning the 1300cc event.

However, that race will long be remembered for the fatal crashes which befell Phil Mellor at Doran's Bend and Steve Henshaw at Quarry Bends rather than Leach's excellent winning ride. Mellor crashed his 1100cc Suzuki into a wall and died later in hospital. When his teammate Jamie Whitham fell at Quarry Bends, Henshaw and Mike Seward touched trying to avoid the debris, and Henshaw was killed instantly in the consequent crash.

Mick Boddice and Chas Birks smashed Jock Taylor's eight-year-old sidecar lap record from a standing start in the second race. They lapped at 108.31mph to win comfortably from Scottish pair Dennis Brown and Bill Nelson. It was Boddice's seventh victory, making him the second most successful TT driver of all time at the close of the decade.

It was a very different story in the first sidecar race when a split fuel-line sidelined Boddice on the first lap at Snugborough. Kenny Howles and Steve Pointer looked the probable winner until they were given inaccurate signals and slowed. The local crew of Dave Molyneux and Colin Hardman took full advantage to win by just 1.2 seconds. It was the first Manx Success in the sidecar class for over twenty years.

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