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Manx Grand Prix
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Tuesday Practice Cut Short 22 August 2006

With 114.292mph by Alan Jackson the opening mark from Monday evening's session, there was plenty of opportunity for fast riding as the big bikes led the field away. But the weather looked like threatening the prospects of the remaining group as they waited their turn to go out.

By the time the first bikes set off, it was spitting rain and a warning board showed light showers at Union Mills and Glen Vine. Practice controller Gavin Corkill was on the warpath as he sought to curb any further instances of over-enthusiastic riding as reported by course marshals in the preceding session. Particular emphasis was made to the need to be careful when overtaking and for making sure of properly slowing when faced with waved yellow flags.

Leading the first pack down Glencrutchery Road were the 750cc Suzukis of Craig Atkinson from Keighley and Stephen Oates from Douglas, with Monday night's fastest Alan Jackson and Derek Brien not far astern.

Towards the end of the first group departures, newcomer Mark Cheetham from Chorley hit trouble with his 600cc Yamaha. The engine immobiliser fault was quickly corrected and Chief Timekeeper John Stott generously allocated him a replacement starting time.

Just over 21 minutes later Atkinson and Oates hammered back through the Grandstand at 140mph having averaged 107mph for the lap - good going. But just as they started their second lap, the rain came down and a warning flag had to be displayed.

Although full slick tyres are not permitted in the Manx, many of the following riders pulled in to think about whether to switch to intermediate tyres. However, with only light showers, it was a tricky call and most stayed as they were.

Atkinson and Oates maintained their great dice on the roads and called it a draw as they rocketed across the line side-by-side at the end of lap two, upping their average speed to over 109mph.

They had things really well organised, as - with three minutes remaining - there was just time for both to switch to their 600s. This time, though, they were separated by a minute or so, and just as the clock ticked over to ten-past seven newcomer Richard Hall (1000 Aprilia) also sneaked out.

The Classics were by this time bursting at the seams and very quickly after the first class began to be 'short-lapped' Chris Palmer and Anglesey's Meredydd Owen got them under way, with Palmer content to trail his partner - maintaining the idea of ensuring the Manx Norton was fully up to temperature before being fully opened out.

Wattie Brown from Stirling worked a great move to graduate somewhat forward of the pack and somehow ended up in the third pairing. Nothing like experience!

But just as things appeared settled, a rapid deterioration of light on the Mountain set in requiring the red flag to be displayed at Ramsey. A few stragglers were still permitted to start on the understanding that it was only to be a half-lap, while the main pack (halted at Ramsey) were then escorted back by travelling marshals at touring speed.

It was all a bit unfortunate, but at least there had been some opportunity for a ride, which was better than Saturday night when only the newcomers had made it out.

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