Ryan Farquhar has won his third Classic race in a week by taking the honours in the Classic Bike sponsored Superbike race to add to his Junior and Senior race wins.
Although not billed as the main event of the festival, the Classic Superbike was much anticipated as the first head to head between the recently crowned Ulster Road Racing champion, and 2011 Irish Road Racing champion Michael Dunlop in his only MGP appearance of the year.
It was a race of attrition, as you might expect from a field mainly made up of highly strung Formula One bikes that the rule book required to be a minimum of 25 years old.
Farquhar was first away on the road, flagged off by 1981 winner, Kiwi Graeme Crosby. With a clear road in front of him, he led at Glen Helen from Scot Mark Buckley. The experienced endurance racer from Alexandria in West Dunbartonshire, managing to split the two high profile Road Racing champions. All three were riding Suzuki XR69's.
Dunlop, recently returning from yet another 2011 treble win, this time at the Munster Road races in Southern Ireland, got his head down and by the time the trio reached Ramsey Hairpin, had passed both of his adversaries to lead by a mere 0.67 seconds.
However, his relentless pace was too much for his machine which cried enough and he was forced to pull in at the Verandah. Yet another XR69 pilot was recent podium finisher Maria Costello MBE who ran as high as fourth spot before she too had to retire at Mountain Box.
Farquhar inherited the lead from Buckley with Crosby local John Barton third. The lead duo provided the crowd with yet another close encounter, with the pair lapping just shy of 110mph and Buckley leading by eight seconds at Ballaugh on the penultimate lap. But Farquhar began to hunt him down and there was nothing between them as they started their final tour.
The final showdown of the week never reached its climax though as Buckley too fell foul of mechanical gremlins, forcing the luckless Scot into retirement at Kerrowmoar. This left Farquhar with an unassailable lead, leaving TT Rider Liaison Officer Barton to slug it out with Mick Godfrey on his Team Alf Kawasaki. The final result was Farquhar in a time of 1h 19m 49.6s (113.437mph) and his ninth MGP victory from Barton with Godfrey a further 6 seconds back in third.
Another man to reach the 9 MGP milestone was Blackpool's Roy Richardson in the Junior Post Classic which ran concurrently with the Classic superbike race. In what was an easy win in MGP terms, Richardson took an early lead and built on it continuously over the distance to win by more than 40 seconds with a race average speed of 108.8mph from Castletown's Chris Palmer and Stuart Garton. All three podium finishers competed on Yamaha TZ250's
With both Farquhar and Richardson now achieving nine MGP victories apiece, they rise to equal second place in the all time winners list alongside classic racing stalwart Bill Swallow. The trio are just 2 wins away from equalling the outright record of legend and 'man of a million visors' Bob Heath.
By Graham Edwards