Maria Costello MBE retired from sixth place in the Bennetts 500cc race at the inaugural Isle of Man Classic TT meeting.
Maria was the 19th rider to set off down Bray Hill for the first ever Isle of Man Classic TT race. Sat on board the privateer Paton of Peter Beugger, and having dialled in the bike to the challenges of the 37.73 Isle of Man TT circuit during the practice sessions, Costello was in confident mood.
The race for 500cc classic machinery got underway with 78 riders, including the likes of modern TT legends John McGuinness and Michael Dunlop taking on the daunting course, each separated by 10 second start intervals. Maria completed the first lap in 10th place, recording an average speed of 103.5 miles per hour. She continued to make progress and was some 4 seconds quicker second time around as she entered the pitlane in an excellent 8th position, for what would be her first and only planned stop for fuel.
The team performed a brilliant pit-stop and having spent less than a minute in pitlane, Costello set off once more with a further scheduled 75 miles over 2 laps of the course ahead. The third lap was completed in similar fashion with Maria continuing to rise up the leaderboard. By now she was in a very commanding position as top privateer by over 3 minutes and was also in a terrific seventh position in the overall standings.
Lap 4 was well underway for Maria and she was now up to sixth position as she leapt over Ballaugh Bridge for the final time with the finish line now metaphorically within sight. However, as she headed down the Sulby straight for the last time, the Paton cried ‘enough’ and the dream of a top 6 finish in her debut Classic TT race was over for Costello:
“It’s heartbreaking to have got so close to finishing the first ever Classic TT race on this glorious machine. I was comfortably heading the privateer class and I was getting more used to the bike with every lap to keep me in overall contention. The Paton handles fabulously and we topped 140 miles per hour through the Sulby speed trap on one of the laps so we were right up there as one of the quickest bikes on track.”
“It would have been a dream come true to have crossed the finish line in sixth place, but I guess that’s racing. I can still take a lot of positives from this performance. I must thank Peter and Barbara Beugger for giving me the opportunity to ride their pride and joy, Richard Bairstow for the help and great pit-stop, not to mention all of the sponsors and fans who have given me incredible support. I must also thank the circuit officials and marshals, without whom the event would not be possible.” reflected Costello.
Maria took to the TT circuit once more on Bank Holiday Monday, this time for the Okells 350/250cc Classic TT race on board the Bob Jackson prepared Suzuki T20 affectionately known as ‘Betty Boo’.
Maria settled in to the race in the early stages and was enjoying a close battle for 7th position in the 250cc class, however the bike suffered from multiple mechanical problems and the writing was on the wall for Costello as she headed around the circuit on the third lap of 4:
“I knuckled down early on and was setting competitive sector times, however by the 3rd lap, Betty was starting to struggle. Ultimately with no gears and a split tank I had to pull over and retire the bike by Greeba Bridge. It’s obviously a disappointment to not have made the finish, but it’s a class that has seen a high attrition rate in recent years – just 6 bikes made it to the finish this time.” concluded Maria.
Maria’s chance to compete in the Formula 1 race was thwarted by the machine not being built when it arrived on the IoM and despite the hard work by the Team Classic Suzuki – Paul Boulton and Martin Ogbourne and wheels being supplied by Dymag, they ran out of time and without the necessary laps completed in practice, she was not qualified and therefore unable to start the race.
Despite Maria’s DNFs’ at the Classic TT, she is still coming away in high spirits after enjoying some great laps on brilliant machinery and looking forward to her next outing on her ESM/Hol-Taj Kawasaki ER6 Supertwin at the final round of the Irish road racing championship at Killalane.