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Manx Grand Prix
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Wednesday Evening Practices 20 August 2003

Conditions were again good as all classes took to the Snaefell Mountain Course for the sixth of nine practice sessions. The fastest lap so far was the 115.72mph set by Raymond Porter (600 Suzuki) on Monday evening.

One man with a long face was Blackpool's Roy Richardson. Last year's Lightweight Classic winner blew up Martin Bullock's 250 Super Six Suzuki in a big way on Monday and has been unable to get a replacement fast engine. His own bike is being used meanwhile, but Roy admits it's nowhere near as competitive. On a lighter note, father Peter is going well on the 400 Honda ridden by Roy at the TT. It's the first time he has ridden a modern bike at the MGP.

Davy Morgan may have had to withdraw, but his ill luck is Dean Silvester's good fortune. He has been able to take over Davy's Junior ride to go with Steve Caffyn's 996 Ducati in the Senior. He has two good numbers too - eight in the Junior and six in the Senior.

Dean will ride the same Yamaha R6 he did this year's Production TT on.

There are plenty of present and former stars helping out around the paddock. Included are Ryan Farquhar, Tom Dickie, Gordon Blackley, Nigel Beattie, Paul Hunt, Alan Jackson Snr., and Mark Parrett.

The outright lap record holder Mick Skene from Laurencekirk did not move up to the TT after last year's Junior MGP victory. He retired straight after the Senior, in which he was second to Mark Parrett after setting a lap of 119.24mph, which now becomes the mark to aim for.

Mick is on the Island helping a number of riders including Ian Pattinson.

The Sells Trio are all doing well. Father Dave has ridden before, but son Rob and daughter Carolynn are newcomers. Both the youngsters set their fastest laps of the week this morning and are clearly relishing being the centre of attention as the first father-son-daughter combination.

Keith Williams from Douglas was not happy after tonight's opening gallop. An intermittent misfire plagued his 600 Yamaha and he wheeled it away reflecting that it had been dangerous to stay out. "It just cuts out without warning, which makes it very dodgy. Probably just a loose wire but perplexing to locate," he rued.

Newcomer Jeremy Hill from Douglas had worn out his rear tyre and wondered whether to call it a night and get ready for Thursday afternoon, when it is forecast to be wet.

Lots of traffic was mentioned by many of the faster men, including Kenneth McCrea from Tynan. He wasn't complaining but said he wished he was on a faster bike so he could zap past.

Ian Hickey from Tonbridge did his first 110-plus lap and pronounced himself satisfied even though it was blustery and others' spills at Ginger Hall and the Waterworks delayed him slightly.

Alex Donaldson from Limavady had been forced to fit a road bike engine for tonight while his race spec motor was being rebuilt. He and David Bell from Chester-le-Street did two laps and refuelled. They thought they would just make the seven o'clock cut for a third lap but both dipped out by a few seconds.

Tommy "The Spook" Clucas and Raymond Porter were involved in a cat-and-mouse psyche-out but neither would admit to giving away any advantage. Clucas will have 30 seconds on the road to chase Porter come Wednesday's Junior.

Practice leader Liam Quinn also reported lots of traffic about, though otherwise had few problems with Sam Finlay's Team racing 750 Suzuki, the GSXR 1000s being ineligible. Assisting was Val Ward, widow of former Honda works TT man Steve Ward.

Manx resident Terry Crane has an unusual device fitted to the right side footrest of his machines. It is a pedal clip of the type favoured by cycle racers. The reason: he has a false leg and it is harnessed neatly by the securing device!

Bill Swallow is enjoying riding Dick Linton's 500 Aermacchi, but already knows in his heart that he'll have to go to beat the Nortons. But it's something different and Dick Linton is also running a big Italian monster ridden by son Mark.

Chris McGahan must be hoping some luck will rub off onto him by having the signature of six-times TT winner Jim Redman on the off-side cowling of his Honda twin. Jim never rode the Manx, but still visits the Island regularly at TT time, even though almost always forced to ride road bikes in the Classic Parade rather than the fours and sixes of works vintage.

There were four incidents: Scott Stewart from Onchan and Dean Martin from Baldrine both came to grief at the Waterworks and received possible minor fractures; Joe Wood from Kidsgrove received minor injuries in a spill at Governor's Bridge Dip; and fancied winner Ray Porter hit his shoulder on the bales at Ginger Hall. He was attended to by a paramedic and later flown to Noble's Hospital by helicopter. It is not yet known whether his injury will prevent him racing, but it would be ironic if he was unable to do so because he is only riding in the Manx because injury ruled him out of the TT.

Fastest speed of the night (and practice week so far) was Tom Clucas from Peel in 19 minutes 29.35 seconds, an average speed of 116.16mph.

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