The Isle of Man is set to transport itself back into the past for the next week as the Classic TT races take to the Mountain Course once more. It’s the sixth successive year that the event – which replaced the Manx Classic Grand Prix races – has taken place and there’s plenty to whet the appetite in terms of both competitors and machinery on view.
This year’s Classic TT has taken even more of a significant place on the racing calendar as it will witness the racing return of 23-times TT winner John McGuinness, the first time the Morecambe Missile has competed in a race around the 37.73-mile course since winning the Senior Classic TT back in 2016.
It’s been a long hard road back to full fitness for McGuinness after the serious injuries he sustained at last year’s North West 200 but he’s as keen as ever and is determined to return to the TT itself in 2019.
For now though, he’s simply delighted to be racing again and few would bet against him taking another victory on board Roger Winfield’s 500cc Paton although Ian Lougher and David Johnson (both MV Agusta), Maria Costello and Davey Todd (both Paton), Jamie Coward and Michael Rutter will provide stiff opposition.
Harrison set to star?
Arguably the showpiece race will again be the Superbike Classic TT race on Bank Holiday Monday and whilst the last few years have seen Dean Harrison, Michael Dunlop and Bruce Anstey go head to head, only the former will be present this time around.
The Silicone Engineering Kawasaki rider won last year’s race after lapping in excess of 127mph and is odds-on favourite to serve up a repeat performance. He won’t have it all his own way though with the likes of Conor Cummins – who has taken over Anstey’s 500cc Padgetts YZR Yamaha – Michael Rutter, James Hillier, Josh Brookes, David Johnson, Gary Johnson and Horst Saiger just some of the names expected to give him a firm challenge.
Two-strokes again on the menu
One of the most popular races will again be the Lightweight race which will see more sounds of days gone by with almost 50 250cc two-strokes lining up on Glencrutchery Road.
Anstey created history twelve months ago when he became the first rider to lap the Mountain Course at more than 120mph on a 250cc machine and his Padgetts Honda team will field Lee Johnston this time around with the diminutive Ulsterman sure to be amongst the race favourites.
Harrison will get his first taste of two-stroke action on a 250cc Yamaha alongside Laylaw Racing team-mate, and 250cc legend, Ian Lougher with the likes of Dan Cooper, Adam McLean, Dan Sayle and David Johnson also on the entry list.
The two remaining races on the schedule will be the traditional Senior (500cc) and Junior (350cc) Classic races where famous British names like Norton, AJS, Matchless and Enfield will be up against overseas manufacturers including Paton, MV Agusta and Honda.
As mentioned, the 500cc race will see McGuinness and co do battle whilst the Junior race will see Rutter aim for his third win in four years on the Ripley Land Racing Honda.
Johnston, Alan Oversby and Dominic Herbertson form a three-pronged attack for Davies Motorsport Honda with Coward, Cooper and the father and son pairing of Bill and Chris Swallow all expected to do battle at the top of the leaderboard.
Every year, the Classic TT celebrates events from the past and this year is no exception with the 30th anniversary of the iconic RC30 Honda taking centre stage.
It was 1988 when the now legendary machine was first seen on these shores and it went on to carve a major name for itself in the record books, with the Isle of Man being no exception.
Names such as Joey Dunlop, Carl Fogarty, Steve Hislop and Phillip McCallen all enjoyed some of their finest moments on the RC30 and a stunning collection of the machines has been assembled, many of which were ridden by the aforementioned as well as other racing gods including Freddie Spencer.
All of the machines – which will have their own parade lap around the Mountain Course over the course of the Bank Holiday weekend – have tremendous pedigree, not just from the TT but from other Championships too including the World Superbike and Endurance Championships and never before has such a vast collection been seen at one time. Without doubt, it’s not to be missed.
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.