Wednesday, August 6


WELLINGTON'S Bruce Anstey is to have another crack at the Senior Classic TT on August 23.  And once again he will be racing the short-stroke six-speed Manx Norton Auckland's Ken McIntosh and his team originally built for Kevin Schwantz.

Anstey is the fastest man to lap the TT.  He set a new outright lap record in this year's Superbike TT (click here for details).

Anstey is New Zealand's most successful rider at the Isle of Man, having won nine TT races in his career.  But a piston failure in the McIntosh Racing Manx Norton on the second lap of last year's inaugural Senior Classic TT last year cost him any chance of adding to that.  He was holding second place at the time.

The race was won by Englishman Ollie Linsdell on a very fast Italian 500cc Paton twin (click here for details).

In a 20 plus year career, 44-year-old Anstey has raced many different makes and models of motorcycle, from 250cc GP two-stroke twins, through Kawasaki 600 and 900 fours, a TRiumph TT600 four, Suzuki GSX-R1000s and most recently a Honda CBR1000RR Fireblade.

But last year's Classic TT was his first time on an old style single cylinder 500cc four-stroke and he expressed amazement at how precise the steering was.  He commented that he had to re-learn all his old "250" lines where you used every inch of the road, and sometimes more! 

"He wouldn't let me change any of the setting on the Featherbed Manx," says McIntosh.

With previous riders Kevin Schwantz, Cameron Donald and Andrew Stroud all winning races on the bike, the set-up was already well established for short circuits but it also proved to be good on the many jumps and high speed corners on the TT course.

Last year McIntosh took one of his New Zealand built 1962 Manx Norton replicas for Anstey to race, along with a spare engine.  However, he ran out of time to fit the spare engine for the race, with the result the piston broke, ending the Kiwi attempt.

This year McIntosh will return with two identical bikes for Anstey, so that the race bike is still fresh at the end of qualifying, giving Bruce his best chance of a finish.

McIntosh said "It was a major blow to be the fastest single cylinder bike in all the practices and never miss a beat all week and then fail to finish when lying in second place. We had to come back and give our New Zealand built bike another chance to live up to its  'Manx' Norton name."

Anstey will be competing for the Mike Hailwood Trophy awarded for 500cc single cylinder machines using a machine that is essentially true to 1962 specification against the much later pre-1973 period multi-cylinder bikes, but "with Bruce's speed and the fickle nature of true 'TT' racing he is certainly in with a chance of an overall podium finish" says McIntosh. 

Last year Anstey lapped around the 108 mph mark on the McIntosh Manx but that was no match for the Paton twin, Linsdell averaging 110.256 mph over the four lap race, with a best lap of 111.660 mph.

The fastest man on a single cylinder bike around the Isle of Man TT course is Scotsman Ian Moodie.  He won the inaugural Singles TT in 1994 on a Harris-framed Yamaha 660 single at an average speed of 111.290 mph, edging out New Zealander Robert Holden (Ducati 550cc Supermono) who clocked 111.110 mph over the four laps.

Although the Singles TT was run from 1994 until 2000, the first year was the fastest, with Moodie setting a lap record of 112.660 mph, which still stands.

It would be a monumental achievement for Anstey to get close to that, given Moodie's Singles TT machine used a 660cc air-cooled SOHC four-valve Yamaha engine in a Harris chassis with modern suspension and brakes.

Although the McIntosh Manx Norton is a very fine example of the breed, it is still a 1950s design and is only 500cc, 160cc less than Moodie's record holder, and has only two valves.