THE LIGHTWEIGHT RACE.
THE June number of Motor Sport hav ing been published before the T.T. practising commenced, it is not surprising that several unexpected incidents took place during this period to upset our tame ” tipster’s ” ideas on the subject of the probable winners. Perhaps the most interesting point was the terrific speed of the Guzzi machines and the brilliant riding of Pietro Ghersi. The 250 C.C. Guzzi was timed to do 77 m.p.h. on the level and in view of Ghersi’s fast practice laps, this combination was regarded as a serious menace in the Lightweight Race.
The start of this event was noticeable only for two incidents, S. Gleave (Diamond) having to repair a puncture before getting away and W. F. Bicknell (Royal Enfield), being unable to start without changing the plug. Only 21 riders start, and minute intervals are allowed between each man, so it is not long before Handles’ tears along the Glencrutchery Road, having lapped at record speed in 36 mins. 37 secs. J. A. Porter comes next, but just as he is passing the pits, his engine gives up the ghost to the accompaniment of a metallic symphony, having shed a push rod. Porter pushes back, and tries to effect a replacement but soon abandons the attempt with a gesture of disgust. Ghersi stages a phenomenally early appearance, with a lap at 63.12 m.p.h., thus leading Handley by over a minute. The first six at the end of Lap I are :-
The Levis machines seem to be very speedy on the straight and very well handled, although Edwards gets into difficulties several times owing to too hectic cornering. Burney (Royal Enfield) and Prentice (New Imperial) are soon in trouble (mechanical and crash respectively), and Ghersi creates a diversion by circling the policeman in Parliament Square, Ramsey, in his efforts to negotiate the bend. Handley finishes his second lap with a leaking petrol pipe and a faulty front brake, but continues. Both Handley and Ghersi replenish after two laps, and the order is :
Johnston had a stop on his first lap, but is driving hard now, in spite of similar gear trouble to that experienced by Handley in the Junior Race. Morgan is delayed by a fall at Ramsey on his third lap, and Gleaves(Diamond) reports two broken valve springs, but continues.
Motor Sport observers round the course report wonderful cornering by C. W. Johnston and P. Ghersi, who started with a minute between them, and who were riding fairly close to each other during the latter half of the race. The third lap order is the same as the second, except that Johnston now leads Handley by one minute, and Ghersi’s average speed is 61.96 m.p.h.
On the fourth lap a wave of disappointment and sympathy emanates from the crowd when it is learnt that Handley’s struggle against odds is terminated near Sulby by a broken valve. Craner, on the other Rex Acme, falls when stopping at his pit, but continues undamaged. Two more retirements are Pike (Les, is), lubrication trouble, and Crabtree, on his own machine, with a broken valve. On lap four Ghersi leads Johnston by four minutes, but the Italian stops at the pits to carry out brake adjustments, whereas Johnston rides straight through. Colgan experiences a delay, and his team mate Morgan ousts him from third position. Fifth and sixth places are now occupied by F. Craner (Rex Acme) and S. H. Jones (New Imperial). The fifth lap is brimful of excitement. Ghersi is evidently in trouble, for the Cotton actually’passes him in road position, though not necessarily on time, somewhere between Michael and Ramsey, and arrives at the
pit still leading. Johnston fills up, but Ghersi rides straight through. When the figures are painted up, we see that the Cotton leads by less than a minute, but will not hay e to fill up again, whereas the Guzzi has all its gears working but is due to replenish before the last lap. Positions after five laps :—
(I) C. W. Johnston (Cotton), 6o m.p.h.
(2) P. Ghersi (Guzzi).
(3) P. G. Morgan (Cotton).
(4) W. Colgan (Cotton).
(5) G. S. Davison (New Imperial).
(6) S. H. Jones (New Imperial).
During the fifth lap a further crop of retirements include Craner (Rex Acme), valve gear, Edwards (Levis), ” menaces ” once too often and crashes at Glen Helen ; Reynard (Royal Enfield) and Merrill (Zenith), engine trouble. Captain Archibald tours round with an injured foot, and a rather woolly engine.
On lap six the Irish and Italian rivals, riding almost neck and neck, lead alternately at different points of the course, each struggling to shake off his opponent.
Ghersi stops at his pit for 53 secs. at the end, and Johnston screams by flat on the tank, but the second board shows that Ghersi is once more the actual leader by 12 seconds, while lower down the scale Jones has repassed Davison. The leaders’ average speed at this point is just over 6o m.p.h.
All interest is now centred on the magnificent duel for the last lap as the loud speaker announces the margin by which one rider leads the other at the observation points round the course. Johnston bolds a varying and slight lead throughout, and eventually roars home to win by twenty-one seconds only after a 268 mile struggle.
Johnston finishes fairly fresh, but his chin has been cut by the steering damper ; he and Ghersi were observed to embrace, Continental fashion, after the finish. The last lap proves too much for Davison’s New Imperial engine, which fails at Kirkmichael, thus leaving nine to finish the course, of whom only four qualify for replicas :—
It is unfortunate that such a wonderful race should be marred by the somewhat unsavoury incident causing P. Ghersi to be excluded from the awards list. The details are by now well known, and there can be no question that the A.C.U. were justified in taking action, though perhaps the rider in question should have been stopped as soon as his transgression was known, and not allowed to risk his life in vain for seven laps.