Motorsport: Kiwis head to Isle of Man Classic

By Eric Thompson

Anstey taking no chances after piston failure last year

Senior TT winner Bruce Anstey puts the classic bike through its paces.
Senior TT winner Bruce Anstey puts the classic bike through its paces.

There will be two big-name Kiwi motorcycle racers at the annual Isle of Man Classic TT races at the end of the month.

Nine-time Senior TT winner Bruce Anstey will be trying to notch up his first win on a classic bike, and two-time world Formula One champion (motorcycles) Graeme Crosby will be demonstrating his old Suzuki XR69.

In June this year Anstey became the fastest man around the Isle of Man mountain course, setting the lap record at 213km/h. Although a long-time competitor at the main IoM TT event, this is only the New Zealander's second visit to the Classic TT and he'll again be riding a Ken McIntosh built and prepared 1962 Manx Norton replica.

Anstey will be contesting the Mike Hailwood Trophy for 500cc single-cylinder bikes on his 1960s era Norton and will be up against much later spec pre-1973 machines.

Last year he was well among it, sitting second after two laps until the piston let go and ended his bid for another win.

In an effort to cover all the bases for this year's attempt, McIntosh has been determined to make sure nothing goes wrong and has borrowed another very similar bike from Aucklander Nick Worthington.

"We're really keen to put the disappointment of last year behind us and we've gone over everything with a fine-tooth comb," said McIntosh.

"We're taking two bikes this time - one for practice, kindly loaned by Nick - and one for the race.


Hugh Anderson gave the machine his seal of approval.

"The race bike will be just the same as last year and we've fitted a brand new Summerfield engine and it's been recently tested at Pukekohe."

To those who know McIntosh it will come as no surprise - the test pilot was New Zealand's only world motorcycle champion, Hugh Anderson.

He won four world titles - 50cc and 125cc in 1963, 50cc in 1964 and 125cc in 1965 - and was no slouch around the Isle of Man either, winning a TT in 1963 and 1964.

Anderson mentored McIntosh in the early days and despite now being 78, Anderson put the Norton through its paces at Pukekohe and deemed it "fit for purpose".

"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," McIntosh told Isle of Man website Classic TT.

"We had to come back and give our New Zealand-built bike another chance to live up to its Manx Norton name."

If the bike holds together this time, and McIntosh is adamant that it will, then IOM TT expert Anstey will be a safe bet to win.

Crosby may not be flinging himself around the mountain course in anger this time but fans of the TT will be leaning over the fences to catch a glimpse of the highly regarded TT rider and his winning Suzuki.

His Isle of Man career spanned only three years but he tore the course apart, winning the Senior TT in 1980 and the Formula One and Classic TT races in 1981.

The Suzuki is the bike he won on in 1981 and was also his 1980 and 1981 Formula One Championships mount.

Crosby will be remembered for his epic battles with King of the Mountain Joey Dunlop (26 wins) and is regarded as one of the best riders ever to grace the mountain course.

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- NZ Herald

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