Opinion: Is the Manx Grand Prix in need of change?

In Classic, Manx Grand Prix, News, Roads

MANX Grand Prix riders are speaking out about substandard conditions of paddock facilities, and how grassroots racing has been usurped by flash and fortune.

The MGP races were first run in 1923 as the Manx Amateur Road Races, an event meant to encourage new Mountain Course competitors to take to the iconic circuit without being muscled out by professional teams.

And while the event will celebrate its 90th running next year, the Classic TT came into existence just four years ago in 2013 and formed part of the Isle of Man’s Festival of Motorcycling.

Classic and modern bikes are on track together all week, but the classics are finished their campaigns by Monday of race week…

I was pretty taken aback when I raced the Manx in 2014. It was just three months on from my first visit to the TT, where racers are treated quite well.

The kings of time trialling have on-demand physio, top class medical teams, press conferences, prime paddock spots and more. Turn the clocks forward to August and the glamour of the Classic TT covers the top of Nobles Park where bikes valued at multiple hundreds of thousands of pounds and teams complete with factory mechanics take over.

For an event that was originally created to encourage new talent onto the TT course, it’s become quite the fashion show. Not only do the Classic teams take over, the MGP racers are – let’s face it – left their table scraps.

It rains on the Isle of Man, believe it or not (I didn’t), and water flows downhill (who would have guessed). At the top of the park, where the Classic lads are scheduled to vacate and head home after finishing up on Monday of race week, the paddocks have the advantage of a gravel ground where mud isn’t as much a worry.

Organisers were forced on more than one occasion this year to make time available to let parade laps run ahead, and precedence was nearly always made for the classics instead of the modern bikes.

I can’t say for sure if the whole Classic TT event, races and all, boost the economy enough to justify the cost. But I can say that the Manx Grand Prix was, to my knowledge, never billed as a parade.

The racers are there to race and regardless of how much money one side brings in versus the other, if that is even a factor, no one group should be given more privilege than another.

Adverse conditions on the island caused the Newcomers race to be cut back from four laps to three this year to accommodate parade laps, among other agenda items…

For those that once had a place to race without the pressure and grandeur of the IOMTT, it looks as if the nearly 100 year-old racing event has now become the Classic TT featuring the Manx Grand Prix, not the other way around.

A petition to change the format of the Festival of Motorcycling to create equal shares of racing and track time for both CTT and MGP competitors has been making rounds since the end of this year’s event just a fortnight ago.

“Practice and racing for paying competitors should always come before parade laps,” one petitioner said.

“It should be made fairer for the Manx GP riders and safer for the Newcomers,” Carole Osborne explained. “Both events could be run together, one race each day, ending with the Senior races for both the MGP and CTT.”

One might make the argument about MGP riders needing more recognition as up-and-comers, but I don’t think that reasoning is enough.

If you pay an entry fee to race, as every newcomer and Manx Grand Prix rider does, shouldn’t you be treated at least as well as the Classic TT riders that pay nothing to enter?

*Images: IOMTT

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