Continuing the mixed weather conditions which have bedevilled practice throughout, this evening’s penultimate session was run amid occasional showers and on wet roads in places.
Just as on most other evenings, the start was delayed – this time it was to allow a road sweeper to deal with some diesel spilt by traffic just prior to the roads closing.
So it was 6.35pm when John Burrows (Senior Suzuki) and Davy Clarke (Newcomers Honda) opened proceedings. How slippery it was could be seen by a number of slides as the clutches were let out off the line, particularly by newcomer Ultra Lightweight Newcomers’ practice leader Sam Dunlop and 1983 Senior Classic winner John Goodall. Both soon gathered up the plot.
Oversuits were the order of the day for most riders, but overhead there was quite an improvement, though the roads remained very greasy as far as Union Mills. But it was water problems of a different nature which overcame Eire’s Denis Murphy. His 600cc Yamaha emptied the entire contents of its radiator all over the road just as he was about to start.
Burrows had generously offered to give fellow Dungannon man Clarke a few pointers, so was consequently slower, allowing Letterkenny’s Seamus Greene to be first to complete a lap. He said conditions were not too bad once past Union Mills.
A low adhesion flag displayed on Glencrutchery Road deterred any heroics and most riders were content with a single lap. Some pulled in to switch to other bikes, but it was all quite tight on time to be able to do so after the delayed start.
There was an air of TT-type frenzy as the clock ticked along, with Alan Oversby first to make it, changing from his 500cc Norton to his 350cc Honda. With four minutes to spare Crosby’s John Barton literally got off his 350cc Honda and took out the 500cc version. Even tighter on time was Blackpool’s Roy Richardson. As the gate was beginning to swing shut he squeezed through on his 500cc model!
As the rest were flagged into the top paddock (short lapped) the Pit Lane contingent of Junior, Senior and Lightweight riders readied themselves and at 7.15pm Barry Maguire from Enniskillen and Stephen Oates from Douglas got the signal to go. Alan Jackson missed his front-line cue, promoting Greene to a clear run, and he was first back with a respectable 110mph lap.