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Conditions Good for Penultimate Practice 27 August 2004

Conditions for tonight's penultimate scheduled practice were good, with just a remote possibility of a shower. More problematic was a large quantity of spilled oil at Gorse Lea, the flat-out right hand curves leading towards Ballagaraghyn. Flag signals were displayed from the Hawthorn onwards.

The fastest lap of the week had been set the day before, when Preston's Alan Jackson (600 Honda) lapped in 19 minutes 11.3 seconds, an average speed of 117.98mph. That exceeded the best 750cc speed set by Ian Pattinson (Kawasaki) by 14.2 seconds.

A number of other class speeds were also upped in the afternoon session. The Lightweight at that point stood to Steve Kuenne (Honda) from Crewe who did 20 minutes 28.1 seconds, 110.60mph. Both Newcomers' classes saw improvement. In the 750cc section Ken Doherty (750 Suzuki) from Tallaght did 20 minutes 03.1 112.90mph while in the 125/400cc class Micky Grose (400 Honda) from Ramsey did 22 minutes 36.9 seconds, 100.10mph. Finally, two of the three Classic categories were bettered. In the 500cc Adrian McFarland (Honda) from Newtonstewart did 22 minutes 00.7 seconds 102.85mph; in the 350cc Chris McGahan.

First away were Davy Morgan (600 Yamaha) and Paul Wilson (750 Suzuki), but the main classes in the first portion were the Classic and Ultra Lightweight. Morgan was easily first back, having pulled about a minute over the field with a lap at 115.90mph.

New Yorker Dave Roper was not happy, though. His Team Obsolete ex-Tom Arter Matchless was misfiring badly and the mechanics rushed to try to locate the problem, thought to perhaps be a faulty electrical coil.

A fine tale of derring-do from the previous session was recounted by Ian Rycroft. His big Greeves shed its primary belt drive coming into Ballacraine. He stopped, found a willing volunteer to drive him to his home three miles away in Peel, grabbed a new belt out of the garage, drove back, fitted it and got away. His lap time? Sixty-three minutes! Full marks for effort.

A tale of a more scary nature was given by Pat Sefton from Windermere. He got away with only severe fright when he slid 150 yards down the road when his Aermacchi locked up at 120mph going through the cutting between Creg ny Baa and Brandish. Paul Morrissey, who ran into Pat's sliding bike also came off but was also uninjured.

More bad news for Wattie Brown. His spill at the Creg left him with a wrecked 500 Norton to go with his blown up Honda. Almost as bad was the Scotsman had to wince as hospital staff cut off his leathers to get at the severe gravel rash he suffered on his hip.

Back to tonight and with a lap at nearly 113mph, Ken Doherty described conditions as perfect after a couple of rapid laps on his 600cc Honda on Junior number plates. He had a slight problem, however, with the tickover sticking at 3,000 instead of 2,000 revs.

Alan Jackson was another encountering difficulty. He stopped the 2002 and 2003-Senior winning Kawasaki at Lambfell, but was able to continue after adjustments. But not far. He must have cadged transport back and was able to get a ride on his second bike - the 600.

Grahame Rhodes was happier. A mystery loss of power on the Aermacchi had been cured, after a small hole in the exhaust seemed to explain its refusal to rev out.

First through at the end of the first lap of part two was Dean Silvester on his 600 Yamaha, averaging 116.35mph followed by Ian Pattinson (also on a 600) at 116.18mph. But Kenneth McCrea - complete with Valentino Rossi replica helmet - pulled in to get clear of a bunch of feudin' newcomers. He halted only to make sure of a clear run then got on his way again. The Yamaha looked a little battle scarred after his spill at the Bungalow on Tuesday. "I got lost in the fog!" he offered.

Maurice Hogg from Dundrum also only did one lap, and said conditions were good, but the bike was not quick enough!

Clocking up 30 years' racing in the Island, Kendal publican Bud Jackson's adventures continued when the gearbox splines on the 350 Classic Honda stripped and kept the bike in second gear only.

Spotted around the Grandstand were Manx MCC Guest of Honour George and Isobel Costain from Ballakilpheric (where's that?). It's 50 years since George won the Senior on a Manx Norton.

It was certainly a busy night with scrutineers examining 360 bikes (the record was Wednesday's 389) and quite a few groups formed on the road. Barry Davidson knocked off two quick laps then swapped helmets, refuelled, complied with a fuel sample check (the bike, not the rider!) and set off with five minutes to spare.

Tommy Clucas hit a snag when the quick-shifter on the gear lever lost its locating bolt. He toured back at a "mere" 107mph average speed.

Liam Quinn declared himself "getting there at last" as his third rear shock absorber of the week seemed to have finally steadied the Team Racing Honda.

Newcomer Shaun Gilbert also said he was enjoying the experience, but had been upset a little by a couple of accidents he'd come across in the Rhencullen area.

Ian Pattinson did 118.07mph and Dean Silvester 117.06mph as the heat was turned up for the Junior race - good going on the 600s considering the traffic out there. That put Pattinson as Top Dog of the Week, with just tomorrow evening's practice to come. To most people's relief, the organisers say they will not utilise Saturday mornings emergency session. Thus passes - probably for ever - scheduled morning practising on the Mountain Course. The last ever session will be marked as taking place on Wednesday August 20 2003.

Times from tonight's Classic: Senior Adrian McFarland (450 Honda) 101.57mph, Junior Chris McGahan (350 Honda) 99.77mph, Lightweight Roy Richardson (250 Suzuki) 99.18mph. The Junior and Lightweight speeds took McGahan and Richardson to the top of the practice leaderboards, but McFarland had done 102.85mph on Thursday afternoon.

Times from tonight's main classes: Junior Ian Pattinson (Honda) 118.07mph, Senior Davy Morgan (750 Suzuki) 114.86, Lightweight Steve Kuenne (Honda) 109.52, Ultra Lightweight Keith Taylor (400 Yamaha) 105.92, 750 Newcomers Ken Doherty (750 Suzuki) 113.59, 125/400 Newcomers Micky Grose (400 Honda) 101.46. Pattinson, Doherty, Morgan and Grose all set the fastest class times of the week. Kuenne had done 110.60 on Thursday and Mark Wateridge (ULW) 106.01 on Wednesday.

Incidents this evening: local riders Mike Crellin and Rodger Wibberly both received possible fractures in separate crashes in the nearby locations of Rhencullen and Orrisdale North. Gene Dalzell from Chesterfield suffered similarly in a crash at White Gates on the outskirts of Ramsey. Meanwhile, Shaun Maddern, who crashed at Westwood, near Kirk Michael, yesterday, has been flown to Liverpool for further treatment.

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