THE LIGHT-WEIGHT RACE.
IN spite of the absence of Pietro Ghersi, this year’s lightweight race for 250 c.c. machines seemed to offer every chance of a repetition of last year’s frenzied Anglo-Italian duel. During practise the Guzzi riders had put up consistently fast laps, while Handley, Bennett and Johnston could be relied upon to show winning form on race day.
By a coincidence, last year’s winner, Paddy Johnston, drew the number one position for this year’s race and at 10 a.m. he set off to try and maintain this position, actually, and on time with his ” lightweight ” Cotton (335 lbs !). No rider experienced undue difficulty in starting, and owing to the whole minute starting interval very little overtaking was recorded by the progress dials. At the end of lap one, as the riders passed through the start, Paddy Johnston held his lead, but No. 9, Bennett, on the
O.K. had passed everyone else before him except Ghersi. Handley too, managed to overtake two very fast men in front of him, namely Jock Porter, and L. Arcangeli, and the three completed the lap in close company. The extraordinary reliability of the small engine now became evident, when it was seen that the entire entry completed the first lap, the leaders being :
The Guzzi position looked threatening while the greatest surprise was provided by Gleave, the comparatively unknown Dot rider attaining fifth place. The second lap was not distinguished by any startling changes in the order of the leaders, but Jock Porter’s engine went on strike on the mountain, while J. Cooke (Dot) disappeared at East Snaefell Gate. Later it transpired that this unfortunate rider was badly injured ; his injuries were such that, as is now well known, he died after being admitted to Nobles Hospital. Bennett stopped at his pit for less than half a minute while Gleave wasted consider able time overshooting his depot. Second lap order :
Bennett had temporarily lost a place owing to his depot stop ; it was reported that his mechanical oil pump
was not working and that engine trouble was not altogether unexpected.
Johnston held his position on lap three, but Ghersi stopped at his pit, thus allowing Bennett to assume second place on the road, a position which incidently represented his place on time at the end of three laps. Gleave dropped back to eighth owing to a 41 minute lap, while Reynard, the Royal Enfield rider, who did so well in the Junior, crashed at Kirktnichael, but escaped serious injury. Handley replenished his tanks for the first time after lap three, when the order of the leaders was :
Ashby was forging ahead on the O.K., a marque which promised to be ” in at the death,” while Johnston was doggedly working up towards the leaders. Behind the first six various Royal Enfield and New Imperial riders were indulging in a glorious dog fight, with the honours slightly on the side of the former, in spite of Reynard’s retirement, while Ghersi on the third Guzzi, was running seventh. Bennett completed his fourth lap ahead of Johnston and incredibly early, having broken the lightweight record for the course in 35 minutes 9 seconds or 64.42 m.p.h. It hardly looked as though his engine had suffered from its lubrication trouble.
Ashby and Handley were not, wasting time either, though as a result of Bennett’s fast lap less than a minute divided the first pair.
Varzi lost considerable ground on this lap, thus letting Johnston and Gleave up into the picture again, though the latter never quite regained the form shown on his first two laps. Fourth lap leaders :
It appeared that the Italians could. not really worry the fastest Britishers, fast though they undoubtedly were, and it seemed unlikely that both the leaders would crack up after half distance. At the end of his fifth lap’ Bennett filled up in 20 seconds, in company with Boudin (O.K.) and Higson (Montgomery), the latter of whom had stopped to assist Cooke, and again to report his crash, but nevertheless was destined to win a replica.
Bennett’s fifth lap was a minute slower than his record, while Handley was only short of the latter by 2 seconds, so that once again the Coventry rider was forging ahead.
Ghersi retired with engine trouble near Ballaugh on this lap, but even so late in the race, only six retirements had been announced on the scoreboard.
C. S. Barrow (Royal Enfield) and F. L. Hall (New Imperial) were putting up good times, while Crabtree (on his own machine) and Davison (Rex Acme) were also appearing in the picture as a result of consistent running. Fifth lap order :
During the sixth lap a dramatic change occurred, only surpassed in importance by Handley’s sudden failure in the last lap of the Junior Race ; Bennett suddenly slowed on the Mountain Climb and toured in to retire, having lapped in 49 minutes. His exhaust note had almost vanished owing to the vague ” engine trouble” excuse. The order after six laps was otherwise practically unchanged :
And then began a somewhat hectic last lap ; would Handley last out ? Stopping to fill up before the last lap, he was told his position, leading by 8 minutes, so there was no reason for him to overdrive his motor. Accordingly his last lap was his slowest and 4i11 he won by eight minutes. To the student of form, however, interesting events were taking place lower down the list. Crabtree, who had a 43 minute first lap, put in a demoniac final circuit and leapt from 10th to 4th at the finish, while Hall (New Imperial) jumped from 9th to 6th. The somewhat spasmodic Gleave dropped two places and poor Paddy Johnston fell and retired at the Bungalow with 4th place almost certain. The full list of finishers and times were as follows :
The first eleven riders gained replicas and the team prize went to New Imperial Motors.