Ultra compelling, intriguing, pulsating, captivating were just some of the words to describe last year’s Junior, opening Lightweight/Ultra Lightweight Manx GP races.
My race reports from one year ago, detailing Nathan Harrison, James Hind, Lancelot Unissart’s race victories are as follows:
Four hours behind schedule, the eagerly anticipated Mylchreests Group Junior Manx Grand Prix got underway at 12:15 PM, with Wakefield’s Steven Procter first down the illustrious Glencrutchery Road.
Early pace setter at Glen Helen on lap 1 was practice week pace setter James Hind, who held a 2.5 seconds lead over Chris Preston Racing’s Nathan Harrison.
By Ballaugh Bridge, Hind’s advantage over Harrison extended to plus 7 seconds. The Peoples Bike Team’s Stephen Parsons occupied third but was only 0.7 ahead of Skerries Andy Farrell as Stephen Smith and VRS Racing’s rounded out the top six.
Next timing point at Ramsey Hairpin saw BTS/NLC Components supported Hind extend his lead further to 9.572 seconds, whilst the battle for third continued to led by reigning Senior class runner-up Parsons.
It was all change though for 3rd at the Bungalow, as Liverpool’s Smith slotted into third place as prior position holder dropped back to fifth.
Out front 19 year old Hind continued to set a rapid, impressive pace which culminated at the end of lap 1 with a sensational new Junior Manx GP lap record of 121.77 mph.
CBR 600RR Honda mounted Harrison remained lead chaser to Hind but was now 11.259 seconds behind Hind, whilst the tight, close fought battle for third was just headed by Slipps Racing’s Smith, who was only 0.475 in front of seasoned Manx GP front runner Farrell.
Lap two began with drama and some as race leader, new Junior MGP lap record holder Hind retired at Greeba Bridge.
This allowed lap 1 lead pursuer Harrison to jump into the race lead, holding a now 8.388 second lead over GSX-R 600 Suzuki mounted Smith.
By Ramsey Hairpin Smith had trimmed Harrison’s lead down to just 6.639 seconds and was looking on course to join Harrison as a member of the prestigious ‘Tommy Club’.
The gap between Harrison and Smith extended at the Bungalow to 7.297 seconds, which then grew marginally at Cronk Ny Mona to almost the eight seconds mark.
At the end of lap 2 Harrison had a 7.869 seconds lead over Smith but soon more drama was to arise, as Harrison incurred a 30 second pit lane speeding penalty.
Respective third, fourth, fifth and sixth place holders at the end of lap 2 were Farrell, Parsons, Vicars and Kettering’s Andrew Fisher.
In spite of his pit lane speeding penalty, next gen Manx roads star Harrison began the third and final lap in determined mode, placing just over four seconds behind new race leader Smith at Glen Helen.
By Ramsey Hairpin, Smith’s race lead was down to only 2.77 seconds! It was most definitely race on for the battle to become 2019 Junior Manx GP Champion.
Onto the Bungalow and Harrison was back into race lead but by only 0.302 of a second. Third placed Farrell additionally wasn’t out of contention for race spoils, just over six seconds behind previous race pace setter Smith.
Come the completion of a quite engrossing, captivating Junior race, it was Harrison in spite of a 30 second penalty who claimed the victory spoils by 3.886 seconds over gallant runner-up Smith.
Reflecting post race on his momentous achievement, 21 years old Harrison candidly stated:
“Doesn’t feel real to be honest. Made it difficult for myself gaining a pit lane penalty, I like making things difficult for myself in life I think! Like you say more than made up to be honest.”
Two times Super Twins Manx GP winner Farrell rounded out the podium finishers, whilst positions fourth, fifth and sixth were acquired by The Peoples Bike Team’s Parsons, Graham Procter backed Fisher and number 1 plate holder Procter.
VRS Racing’s Vicars, Italian star Francesco Curinga, Cramlington’s David McConnachy, Bourne’s Arnie Shelton rounded out the top ten finishers.
Others to bank very creditable results included Hawick’s Chris Cook (11th), Newcomers A race winner Pierre Yves Bian (12th), Ben Rea (13th), Michael Rees (14th), Gaz Evans (15th), Chris Sarbora (17th), Rad Hughes (19th) and Louis O’Regan (21st).
Underway at 6:30 PM, the opening Manx GP Supporters Club Lightweight Manx Grand Prix race began with practice week pace setter Francesco Curinga slotting into an early lead at Glen Helen.
Curinga enjoyed a 2.5 second advantage over Junior Manx GP lap record holder James Hind, whilst third position was held by Dave ‘Sideshow’ Butler.
Onto Ballaugh Bridge and it was all change out front as TZ 250 Yamaha mounted Hind powered into the race lead, moving almost four seconds clear of Bemar Racing Team’s Curinga.
By Ramsey Hairpin Hind moved 8.464 seconds ahead of Curinga and 10.301 seconds ahead of Fingal Motor Club supported Butler.
Photo by Mark Corlett
Come the completion of lap 1 Hind who set a blistering new Lightweight MGP lap record of 115.20 mph, held a 10.939 seconds lead over Curinga.
Butler maintained third, number 2 plate holder Mark Purslow occupied fourth as 2018 Newcomers B race victor Michael Rees and VRS Racing’s finalised the lap 1 top six.
Lap two saw race leader Hind, move further and further away from S1-R Paton mounted Curinga. 13.213 ahead at Glen Helen, his advantage out front extended to 23.035 seconds at Ramsey Hairpin and by the Bungalow he enjoyed a very healthy 24.711 seconds advantage.
Entering the pits for his scheduled pit-stop at the end of lap two, it was confirmed that Hind had broken his previous Lightweight class lap record, lapping at an incredible 116.45 mph.
Hind’s new lap record took his race lead up to almost thirty seconds, carrying onto the third and final lap a race lead of 29.268 seconds over 2017 European Hill Climb Supersport Champion, Curinga.
The third and final lap would see Market Rasen’s Dennis Trollope Racing supported Hind, maintain a consistent rapid pace prior to clinching race honours by 28.693 seconds.
First place finisher on the road Curinga placed runner-up as Dave ‘Sideshow’ Butler wrapped up the podium finishers.
Dafabet Devitt Racing backed Chris Moore finished fourth, VRS Racing’s Brad Vicars finished fifth as David McConnachy rounded out the top six finishers.
Placing’s 7th, 8th, 9th and 10th were banked respectively by Michael Rees, Paul Wardell, Dave Quine and RC Racing’s Marc Colvin.
Added strong rides were produced by Darryl Tweed 11th, Renzo Van Der Donckt 13th, Jack Fowler 14th, Team York Suzuki’s Rodger Wibberley’s 15th, Gavin Brown 16th and 19th place finisher James Ford.
Lancelot Unissart became the second Frenchman at this year’s Manx Grand Prix, to secure a race victory after success in an intriguing opening Ultra Lightweight race.
1.435 seconds down on the RAF’s Rad Hughes at the end of the first lap of the three lap race, the remaining two laps would see VFR 400 Honda mounted Unissart aided by not having to pit for fuel power ahead.
Photo by Nick Wheeler
9.706 seconds in front of Dan Ingham at the end of lap two, the third and final lap would see the amiable Pullen Racing supported Unissart clinch race spoils in style, emerging victorious by the margin of 15.669 seconds over Falcon Road Racing’s Tom Snow.
Previous second place holder Ingham, had looked on course to acquire a rostrum finish prior to retiring at Windy Corner, which allowed CSC Racing’s Alex Sinclair to scoop the final spot on the podium.
Sussex’s Lloyd Collins finished a good fourth whilst fifth place went to lead Kraemer Motorcycles runner Sebastian Witt.
Lap 1 pace setter Rad Hughes placed sixth as Mike Carter, Alan Johnston, Arnie Shelton and Sarah Boyes wrapped up the first ten finishers.
Remaining finishers from the three lap race were Andrew Cowie (11th), Dilligaf Racing’s Steve Moody (12th), 2012 Super Twins MGP race winner Nigel Moore (13th), Shelley Pike (14th), Steve Price (15th) and Derek Wilkie (16th).
Also On This Day:
In addition to MGP action from 2019, it’s also worth mentioning that today also marks two years since Thomas Maxwell, Michael Rees claimed respective Newcomers A, B race triumphs.
Words by Stevie Rial