WITH the start of this year’s Manx Grand Prix just days away, Manx Motor Cycle Club bosses are preparing for what could be one of their most hotly-contested events ever.
Back again this year from his native Skerries is 41-year-old lorry driver Andy Farrell, who took victory in both of the Lightweight races last year. After also lapping at 120mph in the Senior race, the Irishman will be riding with the number one plate in this year’s Lightweight race.
Reigning Ultra-lightweight winner Darryl Tweed from Ballymoney in Northern Ireland is also back for another crack following a sweet ULW victory after he ran out of fuel at Quarry Bends on the last lap of the Junior race while running third. This year he will be riding with the number four plate in Friday’s Lightweight race and at number 12 in both the Junior and Senior races.
Not content with winning last year’s Junior by four seconds, James Chawk then set a new lap record at 114.993mph on his 650cc Paton in the Lightweight race. And while he won’t be contesting this year’s Manx Grand Prix after setting sail for the TT, his younger brother Liam will be riding with the number four plate in the Newcomers A race and at number 80 in the Senior Race.
HGV mechanic Brad Vicars, who won the 2017 Newcomers A race and set a rookie lap record of 118.7mph before finishing fourth in the Junior last year, carries the number 11 plate in the Junior and Senior Races, starting just behind Manxman Nathan Harrison at number 10.
Local ace and cover model Harrison was one of three top contenders in last year’s Newcomers’ A race, alongside Mike Browne and Thomas Maxwell, but Harrison and Browne both retired and left victory to Maxwell.
More than 30 Newcomers will also be competing in the Manx for the first time this month with competitprs from all over Europe as well as America, Australia, New Zealand and Russia.
The event opens with evening practices on Saturday, 17 August when the first riders, the Newcomers, doing speed controlled laps, will set off down Glencrutchery Road at 5.20pm.
*Image: Ellan Vannin Images