Belfast Telegraph

Classic TT success a cruise for Lee Johnston

By Roy Harris

Lee Johnston obliterated the lap record as he took a stunning win in the three-lap OKells 350cc Classic TT.

On board a Black Eagle Racing MV Agusta, Johnston won by 45 seconds, ahead of Alan Oversby (Honda).

The diminutive Maguiresbridge man was third at the end of lap one behind Oversby and William Dunlop (Honda), all inside the old lap record, but by Glen Helen on lap two he relegated Dunlop to third and by the Bungalow he was in the lead, almost four seconds clear at the end of the lap with a new lap record of 105.239mph.

Many thought Johnston would have to pit for fuel, but he went straight through onto his last lap, racing to his first ever victory around the Mountain Circuit.

It was a disappointing race for the Dunlops with William, riding strongly, forced to retire from what looked a safe third place on the last lap at Kirkmichael while Michael (Norton) was a first-lap retirement to the pits.

"The bike was misfiring on the first lap and I considered retiring, but it cleared and I was able to haul in the leaders," said ecstatic winner Johnston.

"It was so much fun out there cruising around for three laps. On the modern bikes I'm hanging on, but this was awesome. Everything happens a lot slower.

"I had never ridden a classic bike before this and it's thanks to the Black Eagle boys for providing me with a superb bike for my first win here."

This was MV's first win around the course in 42 years, since Giacomo Agostini won the 1972 Junior and Senior TT races.

The much anticipated F1 Classic TT clash between Bruce Anstey and Michael Dunlop never materialised with the Kiwi on the Valvoline YZR Padgetts Yamaha taking the race by the scruff of the neck from the word go and setting a new lap record of 123.094mph on his opening lap to lead Dunlop (Team Classic Suzuki) by a massive 15 seconds.

On lap two Dunlop was slowing and at Ramsey it was reported his Suzuki was misfiring badly, confirmed when he retired at the end of the lap.

James Hillier led the race on lap two as he didn't refuel until end of the lap while Anstey pitted at the end of the first.

On lap three Anstey was back in front by 53secs at Glen Helen as Hillier pitted and stretched his winning advantage to over a minute at the chequered flag ahead of Hillier with Russ Mountford third and Steve Mercer fourth. Johnston finished fifth, over a minute clear of semi-retired Ryan Farquhar in sixth.

Anstey said: "To ride an ex-Grand Prix machine to victory is a dream come true. It was the perfect race, everything was spot on and I just took it steady to bring it home. I really enjoyed it."

In the concurrently ran F2 race victory went to Saturday's 500cc Classic TT winner Ian Lougher, another experienced rider coming out of retirement.

Lougher said: "It feels like I've never been away. Not bad for an old boy."

Billy Redmayne from Laxey won yesterday evening's Manx Grand Prix Newcomer's 'A' race by 1.8 seconds from Malachi Mitchell-Thomas with Shane Egan from Cork in third position. Gareth Evans from Hillsborough finished in ninth and Michael Watt from Banbridge in 15th. Racing continues this morning at 10.15am.

Meanwhile, the dates for the 2015 Metzeler Ulster Grand Prix were released. The meeting will take place at Dundrod from August 3-8, subject to formal agreement by the MCUI. More information will be available in the coming weeks on www.ulstergrandprix.net

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