English takes Hailwood-era Manx to Lansdowne win

English (25) ran out the winner
English (25) ran out the winner Picture: John Isgar

Former Senior Manx GP winner Glen English won a tight battle of Manx Nortons to claim first place in the last of four Bonhams Lansdowne races at the Donington Classic Festival, riding the Works Norton equipe’s two-valve 500cc single. He led Chris Firmin, a 44-year-old therapist from Cornwall, over the line by just 0.689 seconds in a race a series that presents racing for pre-1963 bikes almost as they were raced in the Mike Hailwood and Phil Read eras.

“You can just drift these bikes,” English said. “When modern bikes slide they want to spit you in the air and throw you off. The racing is really close, the bikes are evenly matched, and the handling is fantastic. They got 55 horsepower, so they’ll do 145mph.”

“You’re riding proper grand prix bikes as they would have been,” said Firmin, who competes for Alan Clews Racig. “I’ve ridden everything including superbikes and sidecars, and these Lansdowne bikes are so good you can ride them upside down.”

The meeting was also a success for Fred Walmsley, a technical guru of the Manx Norton and Matchless G50 British single-cylinder motors, who prepared the engines of both Firmin and English. The championship will be decided at the final round at Brands Hatch on October 8-9.

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