JAMIE Coward claimed an emotional first Bennetts Classic TT win with victory in today’s Locate.im Junior race after early pace-setter Lee Johnston was hit with mechanical woes.
The Ted Woof/Craven Honda rider, who has finished on the podium almost every year since 2013, finally made his first climb to the top step after early race favourite Johnston had to pull off with machine problems halfway up the mountain on lap two of three.
Former Junior winner Michael Rutter had already got ahead of number-three-starter Michael Sweeney on the road by Glen Helen as he led the timesheets before Coward and Dominic Herbertson took the lead with the defending race winner just half a second behind the Yorkshireman.
But it was Herbertson’s Davies Motorsport team-mate Johnston who shot ahead of them all with a five second advantage as he rocketed through Glen Helen, stretching almost another second on Coward as the latter pulled five seconds clear of Herbertson.
Lap record hold Johnston gained another three seconds on the run up the Mountain and by the time he hit the grandstand, with a 103.38mph lap in hand, he had over nine seconds to work with with Coward and Herbertson falling steadily further back in his wake.
By Ballaugh on lap two, however, Coward had sliced three seconds back out of Johnston’s lead. But it was disaster for Johnston not far up the course as he retired with mechanical issues at the Gooseneck, leaving Coward to control action almost 29sec clear of Herbertson.
From there, it was smooth sailing for Coward as he stretched his advantage to almost 38sec by the time he took the chequered flag to celebrate his first TT win.
Meanwhile in the battle for second, Ripley Land Racing’s Rutter had scythed seven seconds out of Herbertson from Glen Helen to Ramsey on the final lap and was just 2.3sec behind as they began the mountain climb for the last time.
But veteran Rutter overhauled last year’s winner at the Bungalow and held it all the way to the flag to steal second by 0.351sec as Herbertson was forced to settle for third.
Greenall’s Derek Sheils snagged a lone fourth just under nine seconds clear of Hefyn Owen, while John Chapman Racing’s Dan Sayle bagged sixth some five seconds further back.
Fox Classic Racing man Alex Sinclair took seventh ahead of Chris Hughes Racing’s Richard Wilson, leaving Geoff Bates Racing rider Rob Hodson and number one starter Paul Jordan to complete the top 10.
Retirements included Dave Moffitt, Ben Rea, Arthur Browning, Sweeney, Gary Vines, Johnston, Alan Oversby, Jeff Ward, Edward Poole, Ken Parkes and Jason Burrell.
Locate.im Junior Classic TT results (provisional)
- Jamie Coward
- Michael Rutter
- Dominic Herbertson
- Derek Sheils
- Hefyn Owen
*Image: Dave Kneen