The recent Festival of Motorcycling on the Isle of Man was a resounding success and, in its third year, the popularity of the event continues to go from strength to strength.
Over 15,000 visitors:
With the Classic TT races the centrepiece of the Festival, the gods were undoubtedly smiling on the island, which saw warm sunshine throughout the Bank Holiday weekend when most of the UK, including the MotoGP at Silverstone, was hit by rain.
It all meant the Festival gave the thousands of visitors a superb spectacle both on and off the track and with over 15,000 visitors making their way to the Isle of Man, it also meant the Isle of Man Government’s investment into the event continues to pay huge dividends.
An ever popular event:
After three years, the Festival of Motorcycling is already attracting over 7,000 more people than the Manx Grand Prix festival which equates to an additional benefit to the economy of over £3m per annum. This figure is predicted to grow to almost £7m per annum by 2017 when it is anticipated 20,000 visitors will be attracted.
And with figures like that, it’s little wonder the Classic TT is already widely accepted in the motorcycle industry as the world’s premier Classic Motorcycle event.
Entries for the Classic TT races continue to increase with over 200 being accepted for this year’s event where the 350cc and 500cc races saw an impressive 90 riders on the start list. Not all of them made it on to Glencrutchery Road come race day but, nevertheless, the variety and quality was endless.
With the exception of Ian Hutchinson and Guy Martin, all of the star performers from the TT in June were in attendance and coupled with regular Classic front men like Chris Swallow and Alan Oversby, it made for an intriguing combination.
Great result for Harrison:
The Paton versus MV Agusta battle in the 500cc Classic race went the way of the latter with Dean Harrison lapping in excess of 110mph to take the win with team-mate Lee Johnston taking third. The Paton challenge was all but over two thirds of the way through the first lap when John McGuinness and Ryan Farquhar retired within yards of each other leaving Ian Lougher to fly the flag in second.
Bad luck for Anstey:
The Formula One race was arguably the race of the week as Bruce Anstey, on the 500cc Grand Prix Yamaha went head to head with Michael Dunlop’s XR69 Suzuki. Anstey’s record breaking lap of 126.261mph was simply superb and it looked like he had the race won until the exhaust bracket worked its way loose.
Dunlop had kept himself within touching distance of the Kiwi and his final lap of 125mph shows just how hard the racing is. Indeed, no less than 13 riders lapped in excess of 120mph.
Whilst the line up at the Classic TT certainly had both quality and quantity, one area of the races that somehow needs addressing is the alarming rate of attrition during the races, particularly the 350cc and 500cc events.
It was great having all the star TT performers on the grid doing battle with established Classic exponents but when many of them retired on the first lap, the races soon lost some of their sparkle. Indeed, William Dunlop failed to complete a lap in any of his three races whilst Conor Cummins didn’t even start the 500cc race due to his machine not being deemed suitable or safe to race.
Falling by the wayside:
Other star names like McGuinness and Farquhar went out on the first lap of the 500cc race whilst only 46% of the field finished. This figure was slightly higher, 58%, in the 350cc race but Michael Rutter’s victory was in excess of two minutes and saw the other podium finishers change throughout the final lap as more and more people fell by the wayside.
The nature of the beast means that bikes of considerable age are being raced and are no longer up to the demands of a four lap race either due to their age or due to the high state of tune that engineers are subjecting them to. Such is the prestige in winning a Classic TT, the demands upon the old engines are greater than ever before.
Were you luck enough to attend the Festival of Motorcycling? What was your favourite attraction and which racer stood out to you?
Having started watching motorcycle races all over the world form childhood, Phil Wain has been a freelance motorcycle journalist for 15 years and is features writer for a number of publications including BikeSport News and Classic Racer, having also been a regular contributor to MCN and MCN Sport. He is PR officer for a number of teams and riders at both the British Superbike Championship and International road races, including Smiths Triumph, Quattro Plant Kawasaki, John McGuinness, Ryan Farquhar and Keith Amor. He is also heavily involved with the Isle of Man TT Races, writing official press releases and race reports as well as providing ITV4 with statistical information.