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Meetings 1951 - 1970

TT 1967

Diamond Jubilee Year and Mike Hailwood celebrated the sixtieth anniversary of the first TT race, and what everybody thought would be his last appearance on the Island, with a magnificent treble, riding the works Hondas.

His duel with Agostini in the Diamond Jubilee Senior is still regarded by many experts as the greatest TT race of all time. He had met Agostini head on in the Junior race earlier in the week, but this time there was no doubt who was the master.

Aboard the 296cc six-cylinder Honda, Hailwood was in a class of his own. He destroyed the absolute lap record from a standing start at a speed of 107.73mph and continued at nearly the same pace until dropping his speed towards the finish of the six laps.

Nobody, not even Agostini, could stay with him. Agostini was a comfortable second from Derek Woodman on the two-stroke MZ.

Hailwood had started his record-breaking week by winning the Lightweight race, although Read and Ivy tried desperately to spoil his party. At the end of the first lap Hailwood led the Yamaha duo by just two and a half seconds.

He had increased the advantage to 13 seconds by the end of the second after raising the lap record to 104.50mph. Ivy in third place, retired on the fourth lap, elevating Honda-mounted Ralph Bryans into third, and the order remained the same until the finish.

That win gave Hailwood his tenth TT victory, equalling Stanley Woods's record. His two wins later in the week made him the most successful TT rider of all time - a record that stood until Ulsterman Joey Dunlop equalled and then passed Mike's record, eventually putting the total to twenty-six!

Honda quit Grand Prix racing at the end of the season and we all thought Mike was lost to the Island forever. The man was to prove us wrong eleven long years later.

Honda had already pulled out of the 50cc and 125cc classes, paving the way for a thrilling Suzuki-Yamaha conflict in the three-lap Ultra Lightweight race. After Bill Ivy went out on the second lap, it turned into a battle between Read's Yamaha and Stuart Graham's Suzuki. Read led at the end of the first lap, and Graham at the end of the second, but Read just stole the verdict at the chequered flag, with Akiyasu Motohashi third on the works Yamaha.

Graham did win a race that week, the three lap 50cc event, which proved to be a Suzuki benefit, with Graham winning from his team mates Hans-Georg Anscheidt and Tommy Robb.

To mark the Diamond Jubilee the ACU reintroduced the Production race, which was split into 750, 500 and 250cc categories. John Hartle returned to the Island to win the 750cc class on a Triumph twin, and Manxman Neil Kelly took the 500cc class riding a Velocette Thruxton, while Bill Smith and Tommy Robb enjoyed a superb tussle on their Bultaco Metralla machines in the 250cc class. Smith was the victor by just four-fifths of a second.

West German Siggi Schauzu won the Sidecar race for BMW on only his second appearance on the Mountain Course. His chance came when the leader, Georg Auerbacher, retired on the last lap at Ballacraine. In a BMW clean sweep Klaus Enders was second and Britain's Colin Seeley third.

So to the Diamond Senior TT of 1967.

Friday arrived and the fickle Isle of Man weather was perfect. The tension was indescribable. The long line of starters stretched back along Glencrutchery Road  towards Governor's Bridge.

Hailwood started at number four, thirty seconds later Agostini took up the chase. Agostini pulverised the lap record from a standing start breaking the 21-minute barrier with a speed of 108.38mph, to lead by 11.8 seconds.

Obviously not happy with the handling of the Honda, Mike gave a 'thumbs down' as he screamed through to start his second lap. It was not all Agostini and Hailwood. Renzo Pasolini lapped at 100.06mph from a standing start on the Benelli and the news everyone was waiting for, a British machine had gone over the ton! Peter Williams [Arter Matchless] lapped at 100.35mph.

Up front, Hailwood had got the message and was inching away from Agostini. It was his supreme effort. The Honda literally bounced from bump to bump as he wrestled it through a series of 150mph swoops, just managing to keep it between the walls and trees. His second lap was a new record, at 108.77mph - the famous figure that was to remain unbeaten for eight years until Mick Grant achieved 109.82mph in 1975 on a 750 Kawasaki and on a circuit that contained many improved sections.

But still Agostini led the race by 8.6 seconds!

After three laps, both were averaging over 108mph and the Grandstand seethed with excitement as first Agostini and then Hailwood came in for their pit stops. Hailwood had cut the lead down to two seconds, but he toured into the pits slowly. 'Get me a hammer,' he shouted as the mechanics started to refuel. His twist grip had been slipping off the handlebar. He battered it back into place before pulling down his goggles and roaring off again.

The stop lasting 47.8 seconds, cost Hailwood ten seconds, his opponent's pit work had been much faster, and at the start of the fourth lap Agostini led by 15 seconds. The fight was really on!

Having to hold the loose throttle in place and use sheer brute strength to keep the bike on the road, Hailwood still managed once again to pull back Ago's lead. At the start of the fifth lap it was 11.6 seconds. At Ramsey it was reported that Hailwood led by one second, although he still got a '-6' from his board signalling station there,

By now Agostini was aware he was in danger and threw everything into it - timing at the Bungalow had him 2.5 seconds in the lead.

Then sensation! As Hailwood screamed through the start for his final lap, Agostini's light had not come on to indicate he had passed Signpost Corner. Finally the news reached the Grandstand - he had stopped on the Mountain with a broken chain. A groan went up from the crowd - the race was over.

Though he saw the signals from the spectators indicating that Agostini had retired, Hailwood pressed on until he reached Ramsey, where he saw the 'good' news held up by mechanic Nobby Clark, and he toured home, holding onto his loose throttle.

This put Peter Williams into second spot, but Blanchard was out of luck. After a tremendous battle his primary chain broke on lap five. The surprise of the race was Birmingham's Steve Spencer, who was riding in his first TT. On Steve Lancefield's Norton, he became the first man to lap the course at over 100mph on a debut TT and went on to finish third.

Meanwhile back at the Grandstand, Hailwood was admitting: 'I was lucky. If Ago's chain hadn't broken, I don't think I could have won. That second lap was just about as fast as I could go. I made up quite a bit of time, but lost it at the pit stop when I had to fix the throttle.

'It started to work loose again on the fifth lap, and on the last lap I was riding virtually one handed. In fact I almost had to stop once to push it back on again and was holding it for most of the lap.'

It was Mike's 12th TT win and his third that week, a repeat of his 1961 performance.