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Manx Grand Prix
MGP News
Thursday Practice Cut Short 23 August 2007

Another difficult night for all concerned at Thursday evening's Manx Grand Prix practice. After quite a period of uncertainty during the day as to whether the weather would relent sufficiently, a last-minute break enabled an almost prompt start for the Classic and Ultra Lightweight classes.

A very large field was headed away by Ian Hickey (400 Honda) from Tonbridge and former Senior winner Mark Parrett (500 Matchless) from Midhurst. The second pair were TT winners Chris Palmer (500 Matchless) from Castletown and Ian Lougher (500 Honda) from Dromara. But Ian blotted his copybook when he stalled the heavy twin and had to be push-started by helpers.

Competitors had been warned by Deputy Clerk of the Course Martin Blackburn that visibility on some stretches of the Mountain was down to 150 yards, but it quickly became apparent that a huge bank of sea-mist was rolling onto the west coast, just as it had the night before.

That put paid to the action after only one lap, with riders puzzled at the appearance of the red flag at the Grandstand. They all said the Mountain had not been too bad, but as they then looked west quickly understood that it was the run from Ballacraine to Kirk Michael which was then closing in.

First to complete a lap was last year's Ultra Lightweight winner Alan Oversby (500 Norton) from Bolton le Sands, at 105.126mph which proved to be the fastest lap of the night but not as quick as when he unofficially broke the Senior Classic on Tuesday. Fellow record-breaker Ryan Farquhar had opted for his 350cc Honda but in any case had set off some distance behind Oversby on the road, so there was no chance of a repeat of their epic dice of Tuesday.

For quite a while no-one knew quite what would be the outcome of the weather deterioration, as the Paddock area continued to bathe in sunshine. Would the mist move away? If it did, would the organisers continue the Classic and Ultra Lightweight session? Or would they give any second weather 'window' to the remaining classes?

All this was a huge quandary for the organisers, with quite a few riders still needing to qualify for next week's races and only two further practices left.

As riders, officials, mechanics and sponsors hung around gossiping, there was a chance to look at some of the speed trap times from Sulby, which included a remarkable 139mph by Steve Linsdell on the Italian Paton. That is as good as full-on factory machines were doing in the TT in the fifties.

At ten-past seven came the announcement that everyone dreaded - a bank of cloud had descended and made flying the rescue helicopters unsafe. So, for the second evening in succession, more than a hundred bikes were sadly wheeled away without having had an outing. At least they were a different hundred this time!

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