WHO WILL WIN?
Being Premature Prophecies on the 1926 Tourist Trophy Races.
By L. A. H. T is yet early to attempt any serious review of the prospects of this year’s T.T. Races, but by the time
these notes appear, practising will have commenced, and readers will be able to judge for themselves whether our remarks are worth heeding or not.
To begin with, let us study the entry lists ; what a refreshing sight ! All the giants have returned to the game, after, in some cases, several years’ abstinence, and a pleasing sense of novelty is inspired by such newcorners as the Italian Guzzi, Bianchi, and Garelli machines, to say nothing of the new Ivy and Wallis, neither of which have been seen in the Island before.
The overseas element is again well represented, the perennial C. H. Young is handling a Triumph once more, while Roy Charman is one of Australia’s most noted riders.
A Homeric contest should be witnessed in the Senior race, with practically all the noted manufacturers in the field once more : Rudge-Whitworths, the 1914 winners ; Sunbeams, the 1920 and 1922 winners ; Douglas Motors, the winners in 1923; A. J.S., who monotonously annex a place in at least one race every year ; Nortons, perhaps the outstanding example of the standard model racing policy, with a reputation in the island second to none ; Scotts, who have just failed to win several times lately ; and, lastly, the Triumph concern, whose unofficial entries usually manage to make the other trade entries feel uncomfortable.
To these old-timers must be added the names of P. & M. and H. R. D., two newcomers to the island last year, both of whom performed brilliantly, the former gaining fourth place and the latter in a never-to-beforgotten manner attaining first place in the Senior and second place in the Junior races. So much for the machines ; with regard to the riders in the Senior race, the list reveals nothing very startling, all the cracks are riding, most of them on their favourite machines as before’ ; the only notable changes being Clarence Wood and the two Twemlows, on H. R. D. s
and Stanley Woods on a Norton. L. Randles, of Amateur T.T. fame, is now riding as an official Sunbeam nominee, while another persistent Amateur rider in E. Archibald introduces the new O.K. Supreme to the Manx circuit.
If G. W. Patchett is as brilliant on the road as he is on the track, we may see yet another small concern rushed into the limelight, as has so often been done before, by some comparatively unknown but nevertheless top-notch speed-man. However, the McEvoy is a single entry, and as such is fighting against heavy odds. It is fairly safe to say that if any of the following five riders is granted a trouble-free run, he will outstrip the field : J. H. Simpson (A. J.S.), F. W. Dixon (Douglas), A. Bennett (Norton), H. Langman (Scott) or H. R. Davies (H.R.D.). So long as these five continue to race, they will always be freely tipped as likely winners, and up to this point prophecy is easy. To decide which of the five is most likely to win is no mean task, but the writer is a great believer in the law of averages. Howard Davies won last year;. it therefore seems unlikely that he can win again this year, although there is no good reason why he should not, especially when one remembers how he has surprised us in the past. However, I should rather back him for a place than for a win. Alec. Bennett, too, has had more than his fair share of wins in big road races, and granted that last year was an unlucky one for him, and that he displayed even better form than many realised, I still find it hard to back him wholeheartedly for first place.
F. W. Dixon, in spite of his lurid driving, somehow manages to outlast and outpace his team-mates, but this year the race is seven laps-! No, Freddy, we expect some fireworks, but can you last the course ? Harry Langman is a demon of furious riding on his Scott, and has finished in the first half-dozen for the last two years, in each case after minor troubles. This may be the best Dame Fortune can do for him, and, indeed, it is a record to be proud of, but on the other hand he may
command Too per cent, good luck this year ; but there is just that element of doubt which prevents me from putting my shirt on him. This brings us to J. H. Simpson, mounted on a 498 c.c. A. J.S. There seems to be no doubt that Jimmy is just a fraction faster than the very best other riders, and this without extracting a corresponding extra toll from his machine. He does not flog his machine after the manner of one or two other top-notchers, and he has never yet won a T.T. race. Longman showed us last year that the big A. J.S. had the necessary stamina for 6 laps at 65 m.p.h., and therefore, unless Simpson is to follow in the footsteps of that most unlucky sportsman, George Dance, I would unhesitatingly back him to win the Senior race. If Simpson has no trouble, he will win, and any of the other quartet who enjoy similar good luck will be close on his heels. If none of these fast five finish, the race will be won by either the A. J.S.. H. R.D., or Norton second strings, or the fastest Sunbeam,
P. & M., or Triumph rider, all of whom will be roaring angrily for a place, ready to leap into the front rank should any of the leaders fall.
The Junior Race.
The Junior race is altogether more open, as there is lots of new blood and fewer super-men. Dark-horse entries such as Velocette, Matchless and Bradshaw machines also complicate matters. To begin with, the Junior race is won more by the machine than by the rider when compared with the Senior race. The exception to this rule was last year, when Handley threw all caution to the winds and for once was not unlucky. In previous years the Junior race has been won at speeds which can and are accomplished by far more than just a select five of super-riders, as in the Senior. Mechanical trouble, too, is more prevalent in the Junior. To keep to our system, however : there are again five riders who are really dangerous in themselves : G. Dance (Sunbeam), W. L. Handley (Rex-Acme), J. H. Simpson (A. J.S.), P. W. Dixon (Douglas), and A. Bennett (Velocette). Of these, Dixon I eliminate, for the same reason as before : Handley’s luck may hold good yet again, but I doubt it, and the law of averages bars him from carrying my money. Simpson I have tipped freely for the Senior race ; to win two races in one year is not impossible, but it is unlikely, and I think Jimmy drives a little too fast for a 350 c.c. engine, so we will eliminate him, unless he strikes the happy mean and guesses the exact schedule at which he must ride to win. This leaves G. Dance and Alec. Bennett, both top-notchers, the one with a win really. excessively overdue and the other on a comparatively new machine of great promise. As in the Senior, I do not expect more than two of the fast five
to finish, and I really think it is George’s turn. The o.b.v. Sunbeam should be fit by now after all its testing, but, frankly, I think Dance is the only real winner in the team. Bennett should get a place, followed as before by the slower A. J.S. men and the fastest Bradshaw, Blackbume or J.A.P. rider.
There are only twenty-one entries in the Lightweight race, and as in previous years a furious duel between J. A. Porter (New Gerrard) and W. L. Handley (Rex Acme) should result, with the Cotton and New Imperial teams close on their heels. J. G. Burney on an Enfield should also be watched, as he has performed very well in Irish races. It is impossible to say whether Handley or Porter will win, as both are riding similar machines, and both have
won previous races. Should both ” pack up,” Johnston (Cotton) or Black (New Imperial) are the most likely ” runners up.”
We cannot leave the subject of the 1926 races without a note of regret for the lack of a sidecar race. Last year, both as a spectacle and as a race, this event surpassed all the other classes, and it seems fairly obvious that every nut and bolt in the whole machine is stressed to a far greater extent when a sidecar is attached.
As a means of improving the breed generally, therefore, the sidecar race stands pre-eminent, although at first it may appear that the wrong type of combination is developed by ‘racing. Personally, however, I regard the sidecar race as a means of “super testing ” a solo or dual purpose machine, rather than developing the sidecar outfit, which is not likely to undergo any radical change in design for some years at least. The only point the sidecar race does not bring out is the steering and road holding of a machine, and one or two solo classes should provide ample opportunity for testing this feature. May I therefore respectfully suggest that for 1927 the lightweight race, which both as regards machines and riders is very much a smaller edition of the Junior event, should be dropped in favour of the late-lamented sidecar race.
Should the A.C.U. take this step, I feel sure that the T.T. Races would attain even greater popularity and support than ever.