First run in 1955, with what was called at the time ‘an ambitious programme’ of three races for 250cc, 350cc and 500cc machines, the Isle of Man Steam Packet Company sponsored Southern 100 International Road Races now attracts the crème de la crème of the road racing world each July to the Billown Course in the south of the Island for the four-day event.
The 2012 event saw record speeds, with races won by tenths of a second as the sport’s biggest names battled for the honours at ‘the friendly races’. The all-star line-up included the 2011 Solo Champion Michael Dunlop and three past champions – Guy Martin, Ian Lougher and Ryan Farquhar – along with a host of other seasoned campaigners.
This year also attracted 32 Newcomers, including Jamie Hamilton, Dean Harrison, James Cowton, Ivan Lintin and Seamus Elliott.
The Sidecar races rewrote the history books as circuit newcomers Tom and Ben Birchall took the Sidecar Championship victory, whilst fellow newcomer Tim Reeves, with Dan Sayle as passenger, claimed victory in the opening race.
Terry Shepherd won the first 500cc race in 1955 at a speed of 78.26mph on his Norton; 2012 saw Michael Dunlop set a new outright race record for the Solo Championship at 111.335mph on his Honda, with a new lap record at 113.584mph.
Looking forward to 2013, Michael Dunlop and the Birchall brothers have confirmed their commitment to the Steam Packet Southern 100 International Races, as has Guy Martin and newcomers Jamie Hamilton, Dean Harrison and Jamie Cowton.
Next year’s event gets underway on Monday, July 8th, with roads closing at 6.05pm until no later than 9.40pm. Road closures will be the same on Tuesday (July 9th) and Wednesday (July 10th) and for Championship Day – Thursday, 11th July – roads will close between 9.50am and 12.15pm and from 1.00pm until 5.45pm at the latest.
The ‘unique’ Prize Presentation takes place in Castletown Square on Thursday evening from 7.00pm to midnight – and promises to be an event not to be missed!
Steam Packet Company Chief Executive Mark Woodward said: ‘We have enjoyed a long-running connection with motorcycle racing in the Isle of Man and we’re proud to continue our support of the Southern 100.
‘There’s a real buzz about the Southern 100 International Road Races these days, with the number of spectators on the increase. The number of bikes travelling to the Island for this year’s event soared by 37% compared with 2011, and the screening of the races on Eurosport 2 in August should hopefully lead to even more visitors for 2013.’