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Manx Grand Prix
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Newcomers Race Report 30 August 2004

After two delays of 30 minutes apiece, racing in the Manx Grand Prix got under way at 11.15am, with the four-lap Newcomers' Race. Fastest in practice were Ken Doherty from Dublin (Suzuki) at 113.59mph (750cc class) and Mickey Grose from Lezayre (400 Honda) at 101.46mph (125/400cc class).

There was drama right at the start when Grose hit a damp patch as he set off and skidded off the high side of the yellow Honda. Although the rider was unhurt, the bike refused to fire on the electric starter and he had to push it, losing the Manxman at least two minutes.

In the big class, Keith Stewart from Crumlin took the initial lead from Doherty, leading by eight seconds at Ramsey. Brian Purdy from Toomebridge took the initiative in the smaller class.

At the end of lap one, the top three in the 750cc class were Keith Stewart, Derek Brien from Drogeda and Simon Fulton from Ramsey, with Doherty back to fourth. Stewart's advantage was a huge 20 seconds, with a further two seconds between Brien and Fulton.

Leader of the 125/400 class was Purdy, from William Copland from Jacolneston, the gap being 44 seconds, with Martin Jones from Narbeth third a couple of seconds back. Callum O'Shea from Peel slid off at Keppel Gate but was uninjured.

Refuelling stops were taken at the end of the second lap, with Stewart coming in 30 seconds up, but dropping a couple of seconds in the pits. Brien was about the same gap ahead of Doherty, with Brendan Desmond from Co. Cork in fourth spot.

In the smaller class, Purdy pulled the lead out to nearly a minute, with Jones displacing Copland by 26 seconds for second place. After his unfortunate beginning, Grose was up to ninth.

As the field roared through to start its last lap, Stewart maintained his lead, 29 seconds ahead of Brien, with Doherty a little subdued in third and 45 seconds in arrears.

There were no problems as 34-year-old Killead lorry driver Stewart reeled off the last lap for a start-to-finish victory. With a lap of over 123mph on the Dundrod circuit, the TT Course obviously presented few fears for him and he took the 600cc Yamaha to success by 17.4 seconds despite opting for wet tyres, which held up well even as the roads dried out. The winning average speed was 108.01mph.

Brien set the fastest lap of the race at 110.96mph, but it was Brendan Desmond who provided the surprise by overhauling Doherty for third.

In the 125/400 category Purdy held his substantial first place. With one lap to go he enjoyed an advantage of 74 seconds, with Copland third at a further 42 seconds back. Grose kept on trucking and was up to seventh.

Purdy kept it all together last time round, the 400 NC35 singing well over the Mountain and romping to a 100.16mph lap and a win by one minute 26.5 seconds, at an average speed of 98.32mph in spite of brake fade towards the end, sufficient to almost overshoot Windy Corner.

Jones and Copland ran home well to second and third, and were content, with Copland particularly fortunate as he rode the latter stages without a front brake lever!

Grose's persistence was rewarded with sixth place.

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