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Manx Grand Prix
MGP News
Wednesday Morning Practices 20 August 2003

There was a fair turnout for this morning's early session, which enjoyed good conditions except the presence of a heavy overnight dew which made for a few slippery patches. As the half-way point of practising was reached, the class leaders were: Senior Liam Quinn 115.67mph, Junior Ray Porter 115.72, Lightweight Norman Kneen 110.71, Ultra Lightweight Derran Slous 106.23, 750 Newcomers Alex Donaldson 111.19, 400/125 Newcomers Alastair Bayley 107.77, 250 Newcomers Darren Burns 106.50, Senior Classic Alan Oversby 104.29, Junior Classic Jason Griffiths 99.92, Lightweight Classic Ewan Hamilton 94.40.

First away just before six o'clock were Classic riders Stacey Killworth from Westcliff-on-Sea and Tim Johnson from Winkleigh. But they were soon overtaken by the modern machinery as James McCullagh from Strabane and Andy Daniels from Wigan moved up at a good clip on their 600s.

Although officially the session was untimed, estimates of their first laps put them around 107mph and both cracked on for a second tour. Third on the road Tom Clucas from Peel reported the Team PC Racing Yamaha going well having been run in the previous evening. "It wasn't quite revving to the red line," he commented. "I think it may be the battery needing a charge". After extensive deliberation he resisted the temptation to do a second lap.

After their two laps McCullagh and Daniels pulled in, with the latter refuelling before going out for a third. Even though riding a Japanese machine didn't absolve him from needing to exercise great care as the rising sun proved troublesome on the flat out Sulby Straight. "But it's a whole lot better than being out in the wet," he quipped.

McCullagh had suffered brake problems on his 250 on Tuesday evening and claimed he needed to get four more laps on it. Evergreen Irish enthusiast Davy Wood was on hand to reassure him that there was still plenty of time. Davy was also pleased with the form being shown by his other young charges, including Paul Earney from Dromore, who had had the privilege of being given a guided tour of the Mountain Course by TT stars Richard Britton and Martin Finnegan. Paul has completed 11 racing laps so far.

Clucas was also playing his part in trying to help the newcomers, and signalled Robbie Silvester from Pontefract to "tuck in" for a tow from Ramsey Hairpin over the Mountain. "The snag was I couldn't stay with him even at his reduced speed," lamented the Team McAdoo runner. Maria Costello was pleased with progress aboard Noel Clegg's CBR600. She did about 110mph this morning, having done her best ever speed the night before - 111.03mph, enhancing her status as the fastest female at the Manx.

Newcomer James Kirby from Onchan was also satisfied, but reflected that he "should have done the Manx years ago," despite him still only being 25 years of age.

Darren Slous was raving about the performance of his hired Cringle Suzuki, and its usual pilot Paul Hunt had against all prediction made it out of bed to check that a repair to an oil leak had been tested all right on the first lap of the morning.

The flag went out at 6.55am, by which time three laps had easily been possible for the early risers, and scrutineers reported a healthy 150 bikes out, a very respectable total.

There were five incidents, the most serious being a high speed crash on the left-hand curve approaching Snugborough. Newcomer Jonathon Ralph from Rathnew was thought to have had oil on his machine which caused him to lose control. Unfortunately his 600 Honda was burned out in the subsequent melee. The rider was not injured.

Neil Chadwick from Ballasalla crashed at Braddan Bridge, Franz Glauser from Berne at Glen Helen, Keith Taylor from Crook and Martin Powell from Telford at Governor's Bridge. All were uninjured.

The next practice is this evening (Wednesday) at 6.15pm.

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