Works 500s dominate in Irish sunshine.
This weekend saw the Works Team in action on the best road circuit of them all; Tandragee in Northern Ireland. The 5.35 mile track has everything a racer could ever want, jumps, dips, blind crests, a super-long straight with a flat out double kink in the middle and top gear blind corners aplenty. In spite of the unadulterated 1950s nature of the layout, the surface is very good and the bumps are not too severe. The ever-friendly North Armagh Motor Club even arranged for the sun to shine for almost all the weekend.
Riders John Leigh-Pemberton and Mark Parrett both qualified on the front row (John on pole and Mark third) having enjoyed a trouble-free practise on Friday afternoon. Both had been out on their modern bikes (Suzuki SV650 and Yamaha R6 respectively) on Saturday morning which ensured they were fully up to speed when the flag dropped to start the classic race around 1pm. A large field of Hondas, Weslakes, Suzukis and Seeleys followed in their wake, many unsilenced which was quite a spectacle, especially in the ‘pit lane’ - a strip of broken tarmac beside the grid with just a low air fence in front of it.
The Works riders looked imperious as they stretched out a big gap to the following 500s. Never more than a couple of seconds apart it was Mark who came home first, back markers having worked better for him than for John. In the paddock afterwards Mark’s famously enormous grin was much in evidence. John looked equally happy and made certain that he had thanked everyone in the team at least four times.
The event was then successfully concluded in the pub where the team made its annual attempt to drink Northern Ireland’s entire supply of Guinness.