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 Dowling on ex McCallen CBR

Local building company, Marlow Construction, is giving double Manx Grand Prix winner Chris Dowling some solid foundations for the coming season.

A few weeks short of his 30th birthday, the Manx Airlines ground technician has got an ex Phillip McCallen Motorcycle City CBR600 Honda for what he hopes will be a successful year on the UK tracks and on closed roads in the Isle of Man and Ireland.

Martin Marlow, md of Cronk-ny-Mona based Marlow Construction, is a self confessed road racing nut who initially knew Chris in his days as a motocross rider.

'I've known Chris for some time, his father Sid used to work for me. Last year we were able to help him with some of his expenses in his Manx Grand Prix debut, so this year we thought we'd take it a step further.'

2001 is indeed a huge step for the rising star, who only made his road racing debut two years ago next month at Jurby. 'Things went really well the first season, so last year I set out with the ambition of competing in the Manx Grand Prix,' says Chris.

He earned qualification early in the year, and had his entry accepted for the Newcomers race, but then the wheels very nearly came off the bandwagon whe he crashed at the Skerries road race meeting in Ireland and damaged a shoulder.

'It took over a month to get over the injury and it was touch and go whether I'd be fit to ride the Manx, but it all came good in the end.'

Things certainly did come good for the Manchester born ace and he went on to not only win the Newcomers, but the Ultra-Lightweight MGP too - both at lap and race record speeds.

'I thought I would be in with a chance of a good result in the Newcomers, but to win both was a dream come true,' admits Chris.

The problem was then, by tradition he had to go straight into the TT this year. That was where Martin and Maria Marlow stepped in with major support. The 600 Honda is in fact the bike that Ian Simpson rode to second place behind Michael Rutter in the 1998 TT. 'McCallen was due to ride it, but he got hurt in a pre-TT crash in the UK and never actually raced the bike in the Isle of Man,' explains Chris.

It's fully race kitted and tuned by Tony Scott, and will be raced as it is except for a new paint job in Marlow colours.

Chris has his first outing on the 600 at Pembrey in South Wales this weekend, then it will be back to the Island for the first local race at Jurby on Sunday week.

'Hopefully I might be able to get a few rounds of the British Supersport championship in as well, together maybe with the Southern 100, but my main aim is the TT.'

In addition to the 600, Chris has another chance on the same John Shand 400 Honda he took to a double victory in last year's Manx GP.

'In theory that has to be by far my better chance, but the pace is bound to be hotter in the TT than the Manx.'

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