The status of the Isle of Man’s second-tier motorcycle road race continues to rise with unprecedented interest in the Classic TT and Manx Grand Prix week now under way.
The late-summer race week has long featured the Manx GP for amateur riders. But the classic and post-classic era spectacle has gained momentum since the inaugural Classic TT in 2013 and now sees many of the stars of the contemporary TT on bikes representing many eras.
One of the highlights of the 2016 Classic TT will be this Saturday’s Lightweight race, with an impressive entry of 55 riders (mainly Honda RS and Yamaha TZ) 250cc two-stroke Grand Prix machines.
Among the star riders will be Kiwi Bruce Anstey, who won the final 250cc Lightweight TT race in 2002 before the emphasis in contemporary racing shifted entirely to four-stroke machines.
The 47-year-old Kiwi is aboard a Valvoline Racing by Padgett’s Honda RS 250. And for Classic Superbike TT the Padgett’s Racing squad has the Yamaha YZR 500 Grand Prix machine, on which Anstey claimed victory in 2014 and lapped at a record 126.261mph in the 2015 event.
Northern Ireland’s Michael Dunlop will ride for Classic Team Suzuki in the Superbike event on an 1100cc Suzuki XR69 and has Black Eagle Racing MV Agusta machines for the 350cc Junior and 500cc Senior Classic TT races.
For 23-time TT winner John McGuinness there are rides on a Honda RS 250 in the Lightweight Classic TT and a Paton 500 in the 500cc Senior Classic TT.
Other TT regulars on the classics include Australian stars Cam Donald and Dave Johnson along with William Dunlop, Ivan Lintin and Michael Rutter. TT stars Dean Harrison and James Hillier will be on 750cc Kawasakis for the Superbike Classic TT.
The opening Manx GP and Classic TT practice session scheduled for last Saturday was washed out by rain. Evening practice sessions are scheduled Monday to Friday this week.
The 500cc Senior Classic TT and Lightweight Classic TT races are programmed for Saturday and the 350cc Junior Classic TT and Superbike Classic TT are on Monday, August 29. Each of the Classic TT races are raced over four-laps of the 37.75-mile mountain circuit.