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Laxey Photographic Show 2009

Sulby Glen Photographic Show 2009

 Mike Hailwood

John Hartle and Mike Hailwood
John Hartle and Mike Hailwood

The 1963 TT saw the return of the four-cylinder works Gileras to the Island for the first time since Bob McIntyre set the first 100mph lap on one in winning the 1957 Golden Jubilee TT. Geoff Duke managed the two- man team of John Hartle and Phil Read in 1963, and John set very respectable times during practice.

Come the Senior race and John was riding number 4 with Mike Hailwood starting 10 seconds behind him at number 5. Our photograph shows them on the approach to Governors Bridge towards the end of the first lap, and Mike has obviously reduced the deficit to about one second. As the pair screamed past the Grandstand and down Bray Hill with their eight cylinders wailing, Mike sat tight on the Gilera's tail. It was a classic Mike Hailwood tactic of being able to take his time and wait for the right moment to pass.

Anyone fortunate to see him in his prime (or to see photographs of him) will know that he always seemed to be at his most relaxed when sitting tight on someone's tail. His riding position became almost upright and casual and must have disconcerted many a hard-pressed rider who looked behind to see the maestro apparently cruising astern. Soon after the photograph Mike moved ahead and into the lead. He finished in first place, just over a minute in front of John Hartle, with Phil Read bringing the other Gilera into third spot, another four minutes in arrears.

David Wright

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