Lee Johnston on the rostrum as teammate Dean Harrison claims Bennetts 500cc Classic TT victory

Dean Harrison on the Black Eagle Racing 500 MV Agusta at Ginger Hall during the Bennetts 500cc Classic TT race
Dean Harrison on the Black Eagle Racing 500 MV Agusta at Ginger Hall during the Bennetts 500cc Classic TT race
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Fermanagh’s Lee Johnston claimed an excellent rostrum finish in Saturday’s Bennetts 500cc Classic TT, which was won by his Black Eagle Racing MV Agusta team-mate Dean Harrison.

Bradford racer Harrison prevailed in a race of attrition to clinch victory by 26.8 seconds from the luckless Ian Lougher, who picked up a 30-second penalty for speeding in pit lane.

Dean Harrison (centre), winner of the Bennetts 500cc Classic TT, with runner-up Ian Lougher (left) and Lee Johnston

Dean Harrison (centre), winner of the Bennetts 500cc Classic TT, with runner-up Ian Lougher (left) and Lee Johnston

Veteran competitor Lougher, who won the corresponding race in 2014 despite receiving a penalty for the same infraction, pitted for fuel at the end of lap one on the Giovanni Cabassi/Flitwick Motorcycles Paton but left himself with a mountain to climb after breaking the pit lane speed limit.

A number of leading contenders failed to finish and there was huge disappointment for Dungannon’s Ryan Farquhar, who briefly took the lead of the race from his Winfield Paton team-mate John McGuinness, who encountered a brake issue before stopping at Parliament Square on the first lap.

Farquhar was also forced to retire at Ramsey on the opening lap, handing the initiative to eventual winner Harrison.

Michael Dunlop had been challenging Johnston for the final place on the podium on the last lap but retired on his Molnar Manx Norton on the Mountain Mile.

Jamie Coward was promoted to fourth on the Craven Manx Norton, finishing a massive 1m 48.9 seconds behind Johnston in third.

Chris Swallow and Keith Amor, both riding Manx Nortons, completed the top six.

A delighted Harrison, who was celebrating his second Classic TT win after triumphing in the Formula Classic race in 2013, said: “The bike never missed a beat and I was just listening to every little metallic noise the bike was making on the final lap.

“It was hard work and it’s not an old man’s game on these Classic bikes. I’m over the moon and it’s absolutely mint.”

Lougher was left to rue what might have been after his time penalty effectively blew his chances of retaining the title he won a year ago on the Paton.

“I’m absolutely gutted and I feel so sorry for the Linsdell family and Giovanni Cabassi who owns this bike,” said Lougher, who set the fastest lap at 110.729mph.

“I thought I was going slow but I was too fast on the way out and I’m sorry to the team. The bike was fantastic and I really enjoyed the race and I can’t say any more than that really.”

Northern Ireland’s Johnston, the star of the Ulster Grand Prix earlier this month, was thrilled to finish on the rostrum and will be aiming to climb two steps higher in today’s Okells 350cc race, which he won last year on the MV Agusta.

“All credit to these guys because these bikes are all hand-built in their workshops and you can see how happy they are,” Johnston said.

“When they let the likes of myself and Dean ride them around here they deserve credit in the first place.

“I really enjoyed it and how could you not. There was a big crowd out there and people were waving, so thanks very much for that.”

On the final lap of the race, South African Johannes Van de Pol came off at Tower Bends and sustained a reported leg fractures. He was airlifted to Nobles Hospital in Douglas.

There were some 30 retirements in the race, including William Dunlop on the Davies Motorsport Honda, James Cowton and Dan Cooper, Michael Rutter, Olie Linsdell and Alan Oversby.