ISLE OF MAN – With the record-breaking 2014 Isle of Man TT Races now consigned to the history books, attention now turns to the Classic TT presented by Bennetts, which sees riders and machines tackle the Mountain Course again, and the curtain raising Bennetts 500cc Classic TT Race is set to provide equal excitement and entertainment to the June races.
The entry list features a mixture of current TT stars and established Classic contenders, and picking a winner will not be straightforward with at least a dozen riders more than capable of taking the win in the 4-lap race.
The pre-race favorites will, arguably, be the multi-cylinder Paton machines in the hands of three TT greats – John McGuinness, Ryan Farquhar and Ian Lougher. McGuinness made his Classic debut at the same event twelve months ago although it didn’t prove to be a memorable experience as his fortnight was plagued by machine problems. A qualifying lap in excess of 111mph showed what he was capable of and more of the same will be required if he’s to stand on the top step.
Farquhar, who has taken the 500cc Classic Manx GP title on no less than five occasions, will be his teammate on the Roger Winfield machines. With his knowledge of the machine second to none, the Ulsterman will fancy his chances. Lougher, meanwhile, will be out on the same Paton machine that Olie Linsdell used to take the inaugural 500cc Classic TT win twelve months ago.
Linsdell has done a straight swap with Lougher for 2014 as he’ll campaign the 500cc Royal Enfield that the Welshman used last year and he’ll pose a major threat once more as will Mountain Course Outright Lap Record Holder Bruce Anstey who returns on Ken McIntosh’s Manx Norton. The Kiwi was running as high as second last year until being forced to retire, the first time the machine had failed to finish a race, and will be keen to redress the balance this time around.