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Manx Grand Prix
MGP News
Final Practice Report 28 August 2004

There was a good turnout for the final practice, with conditions good, barring a strong breeze.

Peel rider Tom Clucas threw down the gauntlet for next week's racing on Martin Bullock's 600cc Hondas by lapping in 18 minutes 59.6 seconds, an average speed of 119.19mph, nine-tenths of a second inside the Junior lap record and just three-fifths of a second outside the outright Manx Grand Prix lap record standing to fellow local Paul Duckett in last year's Senior-winning ride on Des Collins' 750cc Kawasaki.

Clucas is anxious to win after being denied last year, and to rub it in did a further 119-plus lap late in the evening. It was slightly slower at 119.01mph but still stamps him as firm favourite for at least one win. Alan Jackson was no slouch either at 118.99mph on the big Kwacker. For good measure, Steve Kuenne increased his Lightweight speed from 110.61mph to 112.55mph.

Before the session commenced, ten minutes late while a late traffic accident was dealt with, fastest laps stood to Ian Pattinson (overall and Junior), Davy Morgan (Senior), Steve Kuenne (Lightweight), Mark Wateridge (Ultra-Lightweight), Roy Richardson (Lightweight Classic), Chris McGahan (Junior Classic), Adrian McFarland (Senior Classic), Mickey Grose (125/400 Newcomers) and Ken Doherty (750 Newcomers).

There were not quite as many bikes out as usual, at least to start with, but it was just as well really, as many fell foul of the scrutineers, who were insisting on machines having two bungs in the belly pans of streamlining. Much frantic drilling of fibreglass ensued. Apparently the requirement was in the regulations but had not been insisted upon up to this evening.

Good news for the Italian Gilera and Paton machines - Pat Sefton and Steve Linsdell have both qualified, so fans can look forward to seeing them in action in the Senior Classic. Sefton did a very respectable 97.82mph and Linsdell an almost equally meritorious 95.33mph.

The start saw a number of the top stars out, having successfully appealed to the organisers for out-of-class practising. They included Tom Clucas, Alan Jackson and Barry Maguire.

Seamus Greene is going well, but before going out was forced to endure a panel of assembled "experts" advising on the adjustment of the 600 CBR-RR's slickshift mechanism. They included Ian Pattinson, Paul Hunt and Tom Clucas.

Spotted in the paddock in ernest conversation with Dave Roper was Rob Ianucchi of Team Obsolete who own the Matchless Dave is back at the Manx on 20 years after he won the Historic TT.

Former MGP winner Keith Townsend was reflecting on the shortness of time to sort out the suspension of Paul Wilson's DC Butler Honda, having played with the rear spring ad infinitum. "Bring back the morning practices," he cried (not having to get up and ride himself any more!).

Ewan Hamilton had a long push in after a plug chop but received some help from an overweight, ageing bald-headed former Manx Radio commentator!

Blackpool's Roy Richardson had only his third lap of the week on the immaculate Bullock-sponsored 500cc Drixton Honda. He thought it a bit over-geared. Roy says this will be the last year he will ride a 250 Suzuki, as bits for them are becoming increasingly hard (and expensive) to get. Last year's wrecked engine needs £3,000 to repair, he claims.

Neil Plummer from Ipswich had a few harsh words for newcomer Martin Jones from Narbeth when they pulled in. Plummer said he'd caught Jones at Union Mills and noticed oil smoke pouring from his machine. Unable to risk passing, Plummer stopped at Crosby and again at Ramsey, but without success in having him black flagged. Iin his own defence, Jones said he hadn't noticed the problem until he got to Governor's Bridge and found oil on his boots. He apologised and it looked as if it was accepted. Jones, of course, now faces a tough Sunday to re-build his engine for Monday's race.

After the slow start, numbers picked up and 320 individual bikes were put through scrutineering. The scrutineers are now planning a holiday in Florida on the profits of all the rubber bungs they sold!

There were eight incidents reported, the most serious of which involved local rider Gavin Feighery, who sustained possible fractures in a crash at the Mountain Box. Off at the same place were Bernie Wright and Andy Daniels, but both were largely uninjured. Mark Edwards spilled at Braddan Bridge but was OK and made his own way back to the Grandstand, Jason Kerridge crashed at Laurel Bank but was pronounced all right after inspection by a paramedic. Tim Booth slid off at Governor's Bridge but was uninjured and allowed to continue. Simon Mara crashed at the Waterworks and received back and shoulder injuries. Ian Hutchman fell at the same place but suffered no obvious injuries.

Fastest laps of the session: Senior Alan Jackson 118.99mph, Junior Tom Clucas 119.19mph, Lightweight Steve Kuenne 112.55mph, Ultra Lightweight Keith Taylor 105.88, 750cc Newcomers Simon Fulton 112.61mph, 125/400 Newcomers Brian Purdy 100.55mph, Senior Classic Adrian McFarland 102.77, Junior Classic John Goodall 95.01mph, Lightweight Classic Bud Jackson 91.38mph.

Fastest of the Week: Senior Alan Jackson 118.99mph, Junior Tom Clucas 119.19mph, Lightweight Steve Kuenne 112.55mph, Ultra Lightweight Mark Wateridge 106.01mph, 750cc Newcomers Ken Doherty 113.59mph, 125/400 Newcomers Micky Grose 101.46mph, Senior Classic Adrian McFarland 102.85, Junior Classic Chris McGahan 99.97mph, Lightweight Classic Roy Richardson 99.18mph.

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