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Competitor Profile: John Williams

TT Career Summary

No of times46311211119

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Cheshire’s John Williams TT career spanned eleven years between 1968 and 1978. In that time he won a total of four races, the first in 1971 and the last in 1976. His debut ride in the Senior of 1968 on a Matchless Metisse provided him with his first silver replica for 11th position. From then on his TT career progressed with the usual ups and downs that become part of a road racers lifestyle. 1971 was to see John’s initial victory, riding a 500 Honda in the Production Race, which he led from start to finish. (It was to be a “Williams” benefit - namesake Peter broke the lap record in the 750 class and Charlie set the fastest lap in the 250 as John also broke the lap record in the 500!) John was to repeat his Production win in 1972, this time in the 250cc class still Honda mounted. The remainder of that year saw him retire in the Junior, come hone 7th in the F.750 and the 250 Lightweight saw him in 3rd place. However, the Senior was to prove the metal of the man, riding a G50 Matchless he was up against the might of the MV Team of Agostini and Pagani, managing to split the pair for most of the race, only to be reported as ‘touring’ at the Bungalow on his final circuit. Many a rider would have stopped, but not John, he rode down the Mountain and pushed in from Governor’s to take 28th place out of 36 finishers. 1973 recorded a brace of retirements, a third and two runner positions, whilst his 1974 effort saw his consistently on the leaderboard during practice, only to crash during the last session on the Friday evening, sidelining for race week. Fully fit for the 1975 TT he was third in the 250; second in the Senior and took his first big TT win taking the flag in the Classic 1000cc Race. With full factory backing from Suzuki in 1976, his confidence was high with a 500 for the Senior and a 750 for the Classic. From a standing start in the Senior he broke the lap record and upped it on his second circuit and continued to lead for the remaining four laps. However, just as he was in sight of the chequered flag the 500 Suzuki went dead – out of petrol. Determined to finish he pushed the big machine over the line for 7th place, collapsing with exhaustion. Making up for his disappointment he won the Classic TT with the added satisfaction of setting new class and lap record of 108.18 mph and 110.21 mph. Although back as a ‘privateer’ in 1977 his TT expectations were high, but it was not to be – in both races, the Classic and the Senior he retired with engine problems. 1978 was to be John’s final TT – though no one knew that at the time – In the Formula One Race he was aboard a ‘works’ Honda which he brought home into 2nd place behind the legendary Mike Hailwood. In the Senior, this time on a Suzuki, he was holding second place for 4 of the 6 laps behind Tom Herron, when he was forced to retire on the 5th lap with a split water hose whilst going down the Cronk-y-voddy straight. For the Classic 1000cc race John chose the ‘smaller’ 500cc Suzuki. Mick Grant won on his 750 Kawasaki with John having to settle for 2nd in front of the other 750’s.

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