Riders hoping for favourable weather

Michael Dunlop
Michael Dunlop

It has been far from plain sailing for local riders this week at the Manx Grand Prix as the weather and reed flag incidents have caused havoc with the practice sessions.

Wednesday night’s session was no different as two unconnected incidents near the 13th Milestone shortly after the session commenced for MGP Senior, Junior and Newcomers plus Classic TT Formula 1/F2 riders forced a red flag situation.

A decision was then taken to cancel the session due to the length of time required to clear the scene and deteriorating weather conditions around the 37.73-mile Mountain Course.

Riders had been warned of damp patches around the circuit before the off and were cautioned to expect more persistent rain as the evening progressed.

After a five minute-delay to the scheduled start time of 6.20pm, Michael Dunlop on the Team Classic Suzuki XR69 and Michael Rutter on a replica Ducati of the machine raced by his father Tony were first to set off down the Glencrutchery Road.

Dunlop – who had won three times in succession on Steve Wheatman’s Suzuki before an electrical issue ruled him out of last year’s Motorsport Merchandise Formula 1 race – was on the move and clocked 170.8mph through Sulby as he averaged 123mph to the Bungalow.

The Ballymoney man (114.29mph) and Dean Harrison on the Steelcote Solutions Kawasaki were the only riders to complete laps in excess of 110mph ahead of Russ Mountford on the Silicone Engineering Racing Kawasaki (109.72mph) and Rutter (105.47mph).

Those riders who made it to Kirk Michael before the red flags came out continued through to the finish line while the remaining competitors were stopped on the course, eventually returning to the Grandstand in the opposition direction.

More favourable weather is forecast today when competitors will be desperate to clock up some miles ahead of Saturday’s opening Bennetts 500cc Classic TT.