Classic TT – The Best Road Race Gathering in the World?

Published: September 1, 2016

‘The best road race event in the world at the moment’ – that’s how Clive Padgett summed up the Classic TT upon its conclusion on Monday evening. And whilst the meeting wasn’t without its ups and downs – like any road race – there are plenty of people out there that will agree with the Batley team owner.

2016 was the fourth year of the Classic TT, held on the same Mountain Course that holds the Isle of Man TT in June, and the event saw new races, new winners and three lap records broken whilst there wasn’t quite the same rate of attrition as there had been in recent years.

John McGuinness Stephen Davison Pacemaker Press International
John McGuinness Stephen Davison Pacemaker Press International

New records aplenty:

John McGuinness claimed his first Classic TT victory at his fourth attempt, winning the Senior race in record breaking style which saw him set the first ever sub-20 minute lap in the class whilst Padgett’s team rider Bruce Anstey set the fastest ever 250cc lap ever seen around the Mountain Course, recording a speed of 118.774mph which finally broke McGuinness’ long standing lap record of 118.29mph from 1999.

Bruce Anstey image credit Stephen Davison Pacemaker Press International
Bruce Anstey image credit Stephen Davison Pacemaker Press International

And that man Michael Dunlop won two races in a day, the Junior and Superbike, also claiming a new lap record in the latter at a stunning 126.808mph. The Northern Irishman is certainly versatile and he continues to astound many with his performances. The way in which he can grab a bike by the scruff of the neck and make it do things others can’t is impressive, to say the least.

Great names in attendance:

The sun again shone and with countless road racing greats – and iconic machines – in attendance, including Freddie Spencer, Graeme Crosby and Pierfrancesco Chili, there was plenty to see and do whichever way you looked.

Some of the machinery on display – both in action on the track and static in the paddock – was stunning and whether old or new, there really was something for everyone.

Spencer, Chili, Crosby et al were rubbing shoulders with anyone and everyone who wanted to and the accessibility of the event is certainly one of its attractions. Getting close to such iconic riders and bikes whether it be for autographs or photos and having the opportunity to speak to them is something that not many meetings can offer. At the Classic TT you can and that’s a unique selling point.

Superbike shenanigans:

The Superbike Classic TT race is, arguably, the event’s flagship event, and with lap speeds in excess of 125mph, it’s as close to a modern race as is it can be, at the front at least. But, the bikes are still more than 20 years old although this year’s race showed the flexible rules that are in place don’t always work.

Numerous dispensations have been granted to help ensure full grids but no less than four riders were disqualified from the race after a post-race inspection, all four having finished in the top eight. Indeed, two of them – TT winners Dean Harrison and James Hillier – had finished second and third and whilst the event does have a more relaxed air about it, the fallout after the disqualifications, all for the same technical infringements, could be considerable.

Having such high profile disqualifications isn’t good for the credibility of anyone – the rider, the team, the event – and it’s something that must be addressed for 2017 especially as there were murmurings of misdemeanours in other classes too. As good as the event is in its current state, it can’t afford to lose teams or riders from the entry list.

So, what were your highlights from the Classic TT? Would you agree that it’s ‘The best road race event in the world at the moment’? Why not share your comments below…

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.

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