Convincing wins for Dunlop and Kneen in exciting Classic TT finale
After the delayed start to the second day’s race programme at the 2015 Classic TT Races presented by Bennetts, the Motorsport Merchandise Formula 1 and Formula 2 Race fired into action at 5pm into the setting sun on the Isle of Man.
The much-anticipated head to head between the Japanese Suzuki, Kawasaki and Yamaha Superbikes and the Yamaha YZR500 V4 two stroke Valvoline Racing by Padgetts Motorcycles machine ridden by Bruce Anstey didn’t disappoint with lap records tumbling as Anstey, Dean Harrison, Michael Dunlop, Ryan Farquhar and Peter Hickman went head to head.
However with the tension building and Anstey and Dunlop swapping the lead throughout the race, reports came through at the end of the third lap in the four lap race that Bruce Anstey had been black flagged at Cronk Ny Mona to return to the pits with a loose left exhaust.
The Valvoline Racing by Padgetts Motorcycles team battled valiantly to fix the problem and the Kiwi continued but he’d lost a minute to Michael Dunlop, handing victory to Dunlop on a plate. Anstey had the consolation of clawing back a gap of over thirty seconds on James Hillier on the last lap and with Ryan Farquhar losing time on the Mountain section, Anstey snatched an incredible second place by a second from Farquhar. In the concurrent Formula 2 Race, Ryan Kneen took a commanding victory from James Cowton, breaking the old lap record by a minute with Cowton having the consolation of a new lap record in a race that saw the old lap record broken three times.
Little hinting at the dramatic race that was to come, Australian David Johnson riding the Team York Suzuki, fired up from the Glencrutchery Road start line at around 5pm, but Ryan Farquhar on the Team Winfield Harris Yamaha was first on corrected time at the first timing point at Glen Helen, just past the 9 mile mark. The Northern Ireland rider had eked out a lead of just over a second from fellow countryman Michael Dunlop on the Team Classsic Suzuki with fastest qualifier Peter Hickman on the Mistral Racing Kawasaki third a further second back and fellow Kawasaki riders Dean Harrison (Steelcote Solutions Kawasaki) and James Hillier (Greenall Racing Kawasaki) completing the top five with Gary Johnston sixth on the second Team Winfield Harris Yamaha and Anstey back in seventh, almost five seconds behind Dunlop after a sluggish start.
At the front of the field the action was really heating up with Dunlop leading by Ballaugh and Harrison hitting the front by Ramsey but with Harrison retiring on the Mountain Mile, Dunlop moved back in front almost three seconds ahead of the fast improving Anstey with Farquhar third.
However, Anstey came roaring through to move in front by Cronk Ny Mona and the Kiwi lead at the end of the opening lap by less than a second (124.190/ 18:13.707) from Dunlop (124.094/ 18:14.559mph) with the leading pair both inside Anstey’s Formula 1 Classic TT record set (123.894mph) in last year’s race. Farquhar held third with Hickman (123.533/ 18:19.530) fourth with just over 2 seconds separating the top four in a hugely competitive opening lap.
Meanwhile, the much-heralded appearance of William Dunlop riding the Team National Motorcycle Museum/Crighton Racing Norton Rotary of the type that won the 1992 Senior TT in the hands of Steve Hislop, ultimately entertained the crowd on the early part of the course before expiring at Ballacraine on the opening lap.
On the second lap the top three established a gap from the rest of the field with Anstey extending his lead to over 12 seconds as he came into the pits. Even slowing down for the pit stop, the Kiwi still shattered his lap record, posting a remarkable 126.261/ 17:55.769, the first sub 18 minute Classic TT lap. Dunlop was also again inside the lap record from the opening lap with 124.954/ 18:07.021.
Anstey lost 15 seconds to Dunlop in the pits with a pit stop of 1 minute 18 seconds, hinting at the problems that were to come on the third lap, and Dunlop duly held a lead of just over a second at Glen Helen on the third lap, which he extended to almost six seconds by Ballaugh although Anstey again came back and by Ramsey had halved Dunlop’s lead. Farquhar retained the final podium position but with the Team Winfield man 26 seconds behind Anstey, attention was focused on the leading pair when news came through of Anstey’s black flag as they approached the grandstand at the end of the third lap.
Dunlop duly brought his Team Classic Suzuki home to win in 1:13.37.628/ 122.987mph breaking his old race record set in 2013 by over a minute in the process with a last lap of 125.050/ 18.06.187) with Anstey’s last lap charge putting him in second place almost two seconds ahead of Farquhar. South African Allan Venter (Top Gun Racing Kawasaki) , in 14th was the first privateer home.
It was the same story in the Motorsport Formula 2 Race with lap and race records being shattered as Ryan Kneen, on the Yamaha took a dominant victory by over 12 seconds from Peter Berwick rider James Cowton, also on a Yamaha. Kneen broke the old lap record on the opening lap with a time of 112.763/20:04.539 which Cowton went inside on his second lap with 113.232mph/19:59.560, the first sub 20 minute lap for the Classic TT F2 Class. Kneen’s second lap of 112.890/20:03.192 was also inside his lap one time.
Kneen continued to power round the Mountain Course and came home in 1:21.13.592/ 111.481 which included a last lap of 113.075, his fastest of the race, to finish almost 12 seconds ahead of Cowton (1:21.25.526/ 111.208j). Consolation for Cowton in finishing runner up came with his last lap, the fastest of the race, a new lap record for the F2 Classic TT Class of 113.458/ 19:57.162. Charles Rhys Hardisty, riding the EPS Motorcycles Yamaha, came home third, finishing as the leading privateer to boot.