Northern Ireland’s Ryan Farquhar made a triumphant return to the Manx Grand Prix with victory in the opening race of the day, the 500cc Classic, having missed the 2010 meeting with injury.
Conditions were reported as dry all round the course, apart from damp patches at Stella Maris and on the Ramsey Hairpin exit, for the four lap Okells Brewery 500cc Classic GP Race at the 2011 Manx Grand Prix.
Ryan Farquhar, on his ’72 Paton, was the fastest qualifier (107.162/21:07.50) in the class and he was first away from Glencrutchery Road, followed by Chris Palmer on the Matchless and Watty Brown on the ’70 Petty Norton. The field featured many names from yesteryear including Royal Enfield’s, BSAs Aermacchis and a Velocette alongside a number of Honda’s and Norton’s.
Farquhar was the first to Glen Helen and had opened up an eleven second lead by Glen Helen from Wattie Brown with Palmer tucked behind in third and Roy Richardson on the ’68 Aermacchi Ala D’Oro 476cc a couple of seconds back on Palmer in fourth. Perennial Manx Grand Prix competitor Steve Linsdell on the 1970 Royal Enfield Seeley made up the top five. Linsdell’s lap was notable as the first 100mph lap by a British made push rod single machine.
Farquhar had extended his lead to 35 seconds by Ramsey but behind him a close battle was developing for the remaining podium positions. Palmer held second place by just 0.15 seconds from Roy Richardson with Wattie Brown a further second back in fourth.
Farquhar’s first lap (21:04.95 – 107.378mph), quicker than his fastest lap in qualifying, gave him a 40 second lead over Richardson, who had taken second place by the Bungalow.
Farquhar pitted at the end of the first lap but with his machine struggling to fire after a short delay and the three riders behind him all running straight through, Richardson moved into a ten second lead from Palmer with Wattie Brown moving up into third and Farquhar 18 seconds off the lead in fourth.
However, with Richardson reporting a problem with his brakes at Sulby, Farquhar moved through to lead again by Ramsey on the second lap from Palmer and Wattie Brown with Roy Richardson dropping to fourth, forty seconds behind Farquhar. Richardson eventually retired in the pits at the end of the second lap while at the front of the field Farquhar led by 14 seconds from Palmer with Wattie Brown a further 22 seconds back in the final podium position at the end of the second lap.
Farquhar then posted a third lap of 21:20.25 (106.095mph), extending his lead to almost a minute from Chris Palmer with Wattie Brown holding third place. That remained the top three in sight of the chequered flag with Farquhar winning in a race time of 1:26.02.22, outside his 2009 race record, from Palmer (1:27.54.97) but dramatically Mark Herbertson (1:28.36.35) took the final podium position, his first podium in fifteen years, with Wattie Brown reporting problems and forced to push in from Governors, eventually finishing tenth.
In the Formula Classic Race Mark Parrett, the only machine of the four starters to finish, won a war of attrition. Alec Whitwell and Chris McGahan retired at Glen Helen and The Mountain Box respectively on their second laps, while Dave Madsen-Mygdal was black-flagged at Sulby Bridge with oil reported on his back wheel.
Parrett had an eventful race with no back brake from Ballacraine and was also black-flagged in error, for which he later received a time credit.