Ian Lougher's Classic TT 2016
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Ian Lougher's Classic TT 2016
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Ten times Isle of Man TT winner Ian Lougher returned to the Classic TT for a two pronged challenge at this year's event.

At his disposal was an iconic MV Agusta owned by John Chapman for the Senior Classic TT, which was manufactured by HRT’s Ezio and Maurizio Mascheroni and Enrico Sironi, and was virtually an exact replica of the GP 500 MV Agusta's that Giacomo Agostini rode in the early 1970's in what was then the 500cc world championship.

Also in the Lougher stable was the Team LayLaw Racing TZ250 Yamaha of Eddie Laycock and Gerry Lawlor which Ian would campaign in the Lightweight Classic TT, LayLaw Racing of course being the same team Ian rode for in last year's Formula 2 Classic TT.

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The week started well with the two times Classic TT winner concentrating his efforts on the Yamaha in Monday night's practice session in which he set the early benchmark with a lap speed of 113.363 mph, with one of his main rivals and pre-race favourites Bruce Anstey retiring his RS 250 Honda at Kirk Michael on the opening lap.

The following evening's session again saw Lougher to the fore as he continued to top the Lightweight leaderboard with a lap of 13.893 mph.

However, his progress on the TZ250 Yamaha proved to be in stark contrast to his fortunes on the MV when he took it out for the first time on Wednesday evening.

Ian had got as far as Sarah's Cottage, 11 miles into the lap, when his experience told him that all wasn't well with the £250,000 MV triple, with a hole in the piston putting paid to any further participation for the bike in this year's event.

So it was back to the drawing board as owner Chapman then wheeled out a replica of the 1966 Honda RC181 on which the great Mike Hailwood beat Giacomo Agostini’s MV triple in the famous 1967 Senior TT.

The original plan had been for the bike to be ridden for one lap of race week's Lap of Honour, but now the idea was for Lougher to ride it in the 151-mile four-lap Senior Classic TT race.

It was a bold, if hardly ideal Plan B for Ian, a situation not helped by the cancellation of Thursday evening's practice session due to low visibility on the Mountain Course, plus damage to the road at Churchtown, Ramsey following the incident which caused the stoppage of the earlier Superbike/Lightweight session.

So, it was a quick run-out on the hastily race modified bike at Jurby as Ian then 'coasted' round the TT circuit on Friday evening to ensure qualification for Saturday's race with a lap of 90.079mph.

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Ian Lougher at Ballaugh Bridge on the LayLaw Racing TZ250 Yamaha.
Photo: iomtt.com

Meanwhile back in the Lightweight class, Anstey was starting to show his cards as he posted a lap of 113.776 mph in Wednesday evening's session to move ominously up the leaderboard and, with Ian understandably concentrating on the Senior class on Friday evening, Bruce then moved to the top of the pile with an impressive lap of 118.239mph.

And so it was on to the opening day of racing on Saturday and any real hopes Ian and the Chapman camp had of the RC181 lasting the pace were dashed on the opening lap when he had to retire the Honda near Union Mills.

Ian's disappointment was tempered by the knowledge that the LayLaw Yamaha was going well, and that the Lightweight Classic TT later in the day would bring his best chance of success.

It was Anstey who led at Glen Helen on the opening lap but his lead over Lougher was just 1.8s whilst Ian in turn only had a 0.4s gap over Ryan Kneen who soon retired at Kirk Michael.

As the lap progressed Bruce started to pull away and, with an opening lap of 117.170mph he had a 16.9s lead over the Welshman whose first lap speed was 115.486mph.

Anstey continued to build on his lead on the second lap and it soon became evident why as he lapped at 118.744mph to break John McGuinness’ long standing 250cc lap record.

Ian meanwhile was having an equally good ride but at the pit stops his deficit to the Kiwi was now widening.

Going on to the final lap Anstey's advantage was 1m.11s over Lougher who was even further ahead of third placed Phil Harvey. At the flag it was Bruce from Ian by 1m.4secs with Harvey over two minutes back in third.

Ian's second place was just rewards for the effort both he and the LayLaw Racing team had put in.

After last year's disappointment in the Formula 2 Classic TT, the team had vowed to return stronger than ever and that's exactly what they did, and it took a great ride from Anstey to deny them the race win.

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Ian Lougher:

"The Classic TT as always, is something all the riders enjoy a lot, possibly more than the TT where there is a lot more pressure.

Unfortunately John Chapman's 500 MV had an engine fault after only half a lap, so it was parked up and will be returning to Italy for the builders inspection.

Time was running short but I managed to get one practice lap on John's 500 Honda Four, but in the race fuel starvation stopped me before I reached Union Mills, which was a shame as the guys had worked hard to get it ready in such a short space of time.

After a difficult year in 2015 with the older TZ 250 Yamaha, the Laylaw Racing guys were especially pleased with the 2nd place finish we achieved this time.

The newer Yam was a joy to ride and with Eddie Laycock twiddling the spanners I had real confidence in the bike.

Looking back we may have jetted it a little bit leaner to get nearer to Bruce's Honda as it was barely pulling top gear on the last lap as the conditions changed, but that's two stroke racing in the Isle of Man for you, it's never easy!!

On behalf of my wife Asa and myself, I would like to take this opportunity to thank John and everybody at John Chapman Racing, and Gerry and all the guys at Laylaw Racing for their hard work and great craic we had together, and look forward to next year and doing it all again.

And a big thank you to David and Helen for making our trip so memorable."

Sure Lightweight Classic TT - Result
1. Bruce Anstey
2. Ian Lougher
3. Phil Harvey
4. Paul Owen
5. Charles Rhys Hardisty
6. Gary Vines
07-09-2016, 09:44 AM
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