Seven different manufacturers represented, nine ‘130 Mph Club’ members, four previous class winners, it’s shaping up to be a brilliant RST Classic Superbike race of the 100th Anniversary Manx Grand Prix. Victorious in 2022, the in-form Rob Hodson, remains with Greenall Racing, jockeying ZXR 750 Kawasaki tackle. Team-mates Brian McCormack, Mountain Course returnee Derek Sheils like Hodson have the core racing craft, metronomic pace, shrewd race tactics to prove potential front running factors next week. The same can be applicable to the Team ACR (Alasdair Cowan Racing) pair of No.1 plate holder David Johnson and Immingham’s Craig Neve. Added standout racers Kawasaki mounted include the Mistral Racing trio of Paul Jordan, Michael Sweeney, Ryan Cringle. Pierre Yves Bian, Julian Trummer (DP Coldplaning/TC Racing) and Dominic Herbertson (BHR Racing). Looking towards Suzuki’s presence, Team Classic Suzuki, Team York Suzuki, Cookson Racing have between them secured the services of racers boasting TT, Ulster Grand Prix, Scarborough Gold Cup success. 25 times TT winner Michael Dunlop is back aboard the GSX-R 750 SRAD for Steve Wheatman’s Team Classic Suzuki outfit. As always, never to be underestimated, ‘Maverick’ will be hoping to leave his own distinctive mark on the 100th Anniversary MGP. Talk of The Town title supported Team York Suzuki’s challenge is fronted by 2019 Steve Henshaw Gold Cup runner-up, Mike Norbury, whilst Cookson Racing are working with Czech ace Michal ‘Indi’ Dokoupil. Nine times Macau GP winner Michael Rutter (Bathams Ales) is also Suzuki powered as are the DC Motorcycles team of Bishop Castle’s Barry Furber and Ian Armstrong. Targeting a top ten finish, Furber, Armstrong’s 1992 spec GSX-R 750 steeds feature Lucky Strike Suzuki derived liveries. Honda’s leading entrant is roads scene returner, 2019 Senior race winner Nathan Harrison (Ashcourt Racing) whilst the sole seeded Yamaha mounted racer is Irish Road Race Supersport Champion Michael Browne (Davies Motorsport). Aside from the ‘big four’ marques from Japan, Italian machinery exotica primely features amongst the entry-list. In particular, attention a plenty will transcend upon triple TT winner Dean Harrison, who pilots the Key Racing 916 Ducati, which he broke the existing Classic Superbike lap-record on at the Oliver’s Mount Cock O’The North meeting. Bimota jockey’s Sam West, Stefano Bonetti, Timothee Monot all add more Italian flair to the entry. I’d be remiss not to mention that the fifty-racer plus yesteryear Superbike field, also features Banbridge’s Shaun Anderson, aboard the great-sounding rotary Norton of the Wiz Norton Racing outfit, ‘Tommy Club’ inductee Victor Lopez Santos. Barry Sheene Classic front-runner Don Gilbert, VRS Racing’s Pete Murray, Senior race Champion in 2016 Tom Weeden, top six finisher last month at Chimay, Rhys Hardisty. Versatile racing all-rounder Michael Russell, Alan Oversby (PipeWerx Suzuki) and Junior/Senior race winner in 2017, Michael Evans (Good with Wood). The overall quality of the 2023 Superbike Manx GP entry, despite missing the likes of Peter Hickman, Davey Todd, Jamie Coward and Conor Cummins is truly top, top draw. Roll on qualifying week, then the four-lap race, visceral, raw, real Mountain Course action beckons. Photo credit: Mark Corlett, Photo courtesy of Barry Furber Words by Stevie Rial #dontletfearcontrolyou
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