Gary Johnson’s hopes of adding to his impressive haul of results in the 2008 season were dashed when he was forced to retire from the Senior Classic Manx Grand Prix.
Riding Brian Richards’ 500cc MV Agusta, the 27-year old had a steady build up during practice week and as he got more and more used to the bike, his confidence rose and the times began to fall. However, race day was severely affected by the weather with the Isle of Man hit by heavy rain and strong winds and the Classic race got underway over 6 hours later than scheduled. It was also reduced in distance from 4 laps to 3.
Riders were warned of damp patches under the trees and, indeed, conditions were extremely tricky around the Mountain Course. Nevertheless, Gary was soon into his stride and led Ryan Farquhar by 6.3 seconds at Glen Helen, an advantage that had increased by the time they passed through Ramsey. However, the mountain climb took it’s toll and although Gary completed the first lap at a speed of 102.696mph, he had slipped to second and he was reluctantly forced to pull in to the pits and retire, his race brought to a premature end by fuel problems.
Talking later, the Broughton rider said: "‘It’s a real shame we had the fuel problems with the bike as the race was going so well. Conditions were very tricky with the roads really wet in places so I just took it nice and steady but it was great to see ‘P1’ on my board. I had plenty in reserve but about half way over the Mountain, I knew there was something wrong with the bike as it wasn’t running as strongly as it had. It got progessively worse for the rest of the lap so I had little option other than to pull in.
“Like I say, it was a great shame as I was well in contention for the win and I’m disappointed, not only for myself, but for Brian and all his team. They’ve worked really hard and helped me no end in what was my first time ever on a Classic machine; hopefully, I’ll get another chance next year and repay them then. I’ve throughly enjoyed the experience and my knowledge of the course has again immproved so roll on 2009!”