Bradford's Dean Harrison took his maiden Mountain Course win on Bank Holiday Monday when he won a thrilling Formula Classic TT race by just 0.174s. Riding a BSA Rob North 750cc Rocket-3, the RC Express Racing rider had accepted a ride with the Porter Racing team at the eleventh hour and despite encountering a number of problems during the 4-lap race, he came out on top in what was the second closest finish on the 37 and 3/4 mile course.
Having only sat on the bike for the first time on the opening night of practice a week ago, Dean soon adapted to the unfamiliar bike and quickened his pace during the week, a lap of 106.753mph making him the fastest rider of the week, some 26 seconds clear of nearest rival Mark Parrett. It meant he lined up as race favourite with perfect conditions greeting the competitors on the Isle of Man on Monday.
An opening lap of 105.928mph gave Dean a five-second lead over Gavin Lupton although he later revealed the tank strap had broke and he had to ride the remainder of the race with it held between his knees. A second lap of 106.215mph saw Dean's lead extended to 15 seconds at half race distance but by lap three, the broken tank strap meant the tank was moving around considerably, causing the the throttle cable to jam. As a result, Dean only had half a throttle for the last two laps and, with a difference in pit stop strategy, lost a minute and a half on lap three to drop back to second behind Lupton with his chances of victory seemingly gone.
However, Dean fought back brilliantly and a stunning final lap saw him somehow claw the deficit back, making up over two seconds in the final two mile sector alone, to take the win by the slender margin of 0.174s.
Speaking later, a delighted Dean said; "I only came over to the Isle of Man this week to help out a friend so to be sitting here now as a race winner is brilliant! The Porter Racing team offered me a ride so I jumped at the chance and although the BSA is something very different to what I'm used to, it was really enjoyable to get back out on the Mountain Course. The race itself was obviously very eventful and it was quite a job holding the tank between my legs and chest whilst I could only use half throttle for the last two laps. To come back from over a minute down on the last lap was unreal and I'm delighted to have taken the race win. A big thanks to everyone at Porter Racing for making it all happen - it's great to be the first winner of the Formula Classic TT."
Pictures by Stephen Davison - Pacemaker Press International