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Manx Grand Prix
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First Practice a Wash Out 19 August 2006

Poor weather caused severe disruption of the opening practice session on Saturday evening.

Although promising to improve as the evening progressed, in fact mist and rain allowed only the newcomers to get in any lappery at all.

Thirty-five minutes later than scheduled, after extensive consideration by Practice Controller Gavin Corkill, three bands of newcomers – 38 in all - set off in the company of past and present TT star riders aboard machines plated as travelling marshals.

These included TT winners Chris Palmer and Richard Quayle, along with MGP winners Nigel Beattie and Paul Duckett and TT star Chris Heath.

Seven riders were in the first bunch trailing Chief Travelling Marshal Dick Cassidy. They were Jules Croft from Lincoln, Andy Cowin from Onchan, Steve Hodgson from Woodford Green, Nick Shorter from Woking,Mark Cheetham from Chorley, Kiaran Hankin from Preston and Billy Smith from Douglas.

Before setting off shortly after 6.50pm, they had been warned of low cloud on the western section of the course – particularly near the 11th Milestone, and swirling mist on the Mountain was also a problem.

On the first night, the newcomers are always allowed to reach Kirk Michael (15 miles) before the rest of the field is allowed away, but it soon became clear that further weather problems were developing. Outright lap record holder Alan Jackson from Preston was at the front of the field with Martin Bullock’s 750cc Suzuki, but he and proposed starting partner Derek Brien from Droghea, Eire, began to wonder if they would get going when 25 minutes elapsed since the newcomers started.

Then came the announcement that sweeping showers had added to the previous difficulties and left the organisers with no alternative but to call off the rest of the proceedings.

As the newcomers arrived back to be flagged off, they heard the news that they wouldn’t be able to do a second lap, but, of course, were nowhere near as disappointed as those who hadn’t got a ride at all.

There was one minor spill. Jack Williamson from Ballymoney dropped his 750cc Suzuki at Governor’s Bridge, but was quickly able to pick it up and crack on for the final half-mile.

By half-past seven the Pit Lane and Paddocks were deserted, the next session not being until Monday evening.

The scrutineers were philosophical about it all, despite 247 of the 285 bikes they had passed through needing to be done all over again on Monday!

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