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Manx Grand Prix
MGP News
Junior Race 29 August 2007

Close racing was guaranteed in the Junior, with nearly everyone on 600cc in-line four cylinder four-strokes so similar in performance that it would almost certainly be sheer riding ability that would decide it.

At Glen Helen on lap one the leader was practice pole man Mats Nilsson (Honda) from Sweden by 1.88 seconds from last year's narrow runner-up Derek Brien (Kawasaki) with Shane Connor (Yamaha) third. Fourth was Philip McGurk (Honda), fifth Michael Weldon (Honda) and sixth Adam Barclay (Suzuki).

At Ramsey Hairpin Nilsson's lead had stretched to 2.07 seconds and the only change in the top six was the interchange of Weldon and Barclay in fifth and sixth.

Over the Mountain at a rapid pace and still No. 9 Nilsson was chasing on the road but extending his lead on corrected time to 3.64 seconds, averaging 119.58mph. Connor had edged ahead of starting partner Brien to take over second place, with McGurk, Weldon and Barclay the next three, followed by Andrew Neill, Si Fulton, Trevor Ferguson and James McCullagh.

At Ramsey second time round Connor had pulled Nilsson back to 0.7 of a second, with Brien trying hard to keep with Connor on the road to establish third as his own. At the Bungalow Connor had taken the race lead by 1.63 seconds, with the forthcoming pit stops looking likely to be quite a sort-out.

Frantic work in the depots saw Brien narrowly re-start first but Connor accelerated past on the way out of Pit Lane. As they left, Nilsson arrived and a very slick replenishment saw Nilsson re-take the lead by five seconds. Connor was ahead of Brien by the few yards separating them on the road. But nine miles further on at Glen Helen, the race had its third leader in five minutes when Brien led on the road and by 0.13 seconds from Connor, with Nilsson third at two seconds. Fantastic!

Neill was the other rider on the move - up from seventh to fourth at half-distance at the expense of McGurk whose pit stop was a little lengthy. Barclay stayed sixth. At Ramsey on lap three Brien had pulled out an astonishing lead of 19 seconds over Nilsson, but Connor had crashed on the approach to the high speed Alpine Cottage, and been helicoptered to hospital. That allowed Neill up to third, McGurk fourth, Barclay fifth and McCullagh sixth.

Going into the final lap, Brien - who had lost to Craig Atkinson by one-hundredth of a second last year - led Nilsson, who would have encountered the Connor crash, by 26 seconds. Neill was third 53 seconds behind the Swedish rider, with McGurk, Barclay and McCullagh the second three, and Fulton, Michael Charnock, Neal Champion and Trevor Ferguson the placemen to tenth.

With a lead of 50 seconds at Ramsey, Brien rode it over the Mountain to win the Junior Manx by 65 seconds at an average speed of 118.027mph. He had previously finished second three times at the MGP, so his victory was well and truly deserved.

Brien was congratulated by Atkinson, with greetings too for Nilsson, Neill, McGurk, Barclay and McCullagh, followed by Fulton, Charnock, Champion and Ryan McCay, who finished in that order.

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