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Manx Grand Prix
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Conditions Better for Second Practice 21 August 2006

After the disappointment of Saturday's severely curtailed practice, weather conditions were considerably better for the second session.

Just five minutes later than scheduled, the five newcomers who had not taken part in Saturday's introductory lap were escorted on their compulsory acquaintance lap. Led by Chief Travelling Marshal Dick Cassidy, they were Billy Smith from Douglas, Alistair Howarth from Clitheroe, Andy O'Brien from Bellewstown, Michael Dunlop from Ballymoney and Andrew Fox from Bingley. Unfortunately the latter only got to the Gooseneck before his Classic 250cc Suzuki packed in.

There was a large turnout when the main bunch got going at 6.40pm, led away by Maria Costello - the only solo female rider ever to appear on an IOM rostrum. She had her 400cc RLR Motorsports Honda well and truly clear of starting partner Alan Oversby, also riding a 400cc Honda.

First of the Classic contingent to set off was Tony Myers from Hull on his 500cc G50 Seeley Matchless, with fancied winner Chris Palmer (also twice winner of the 125cc TT) soon down to business on Fred Walmsley's 500cc Manx Norton and hoping for better luck than last year when he broke down on the opening lap.

Making his 2006 Island debut was three-times TT winner Ryan Farquhar looking a little unfamiliar in a white Classic overvest. He had been unable to ride in the TT after an early season spill in Northern Ireland kept him out of action for three months.

Six-times TT winner Ian Lougher had both his Classic Hondas on parade and seemed undeterred that they would probably prove 60mph slower than the Stobart Fireblades he used at the TT. Also attracting plenty of attention was the fabulous Italian 500cc Paton twin with Steve Linsdell at the controls as usual. He was leading the Senior Classic by a minute last year until mechanical trouble forced him to retire.

Celebrating his 30th wedding anniversary was the veteran Bud Jackson, attempting to squeeze two laps out of his 500cc Honda twin fitted with a replacement engine. Long-suffering wife Elaine would have to wait for her champagne (probably until she returns to their Oddfellows Arms pub in Kendal where staff discount could be obtained!

Three-times past winner Roy Richardson left his departure until towards the back of the field, while former MGP winner Dave Hughes was momentarily delayed getting his bike to fire on the battery-powered rollers which are now commonplace around the paddock.

Early returnees reported gusty winds on the Mountain and a few damp patches under the trees, but otherwise enjoying good conditions.

The second portion of the main session catered for Senior, Junior and Lightweight machines with no newcomers, but the more enterprising of the latter group had made sure they spent only the bare minimum of time in the paddock after their conducted lap by going more-or-less straight back out again with the Classics and Ultra Lightweight classes.

Martin Bullock's machines were to the fore when the second main group headed off at 7.25pm, with MGP outright lap record holder Alan Jackson on the 750cc Suzuki easily out-dragging Craig Atkinson?s 600cc Honda.

Mechanical trouble beset hosts of riders, spelling a tough night for rescue crews.

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