Although two-stroke machines have been dropped from the TT this year, the decision by the Manx Motor Cycle Club to continue catering for them at the Manx Grand Prix has been vindicated as entries move towards their close.
Besides the usual hordes of modified Suzuki T20s in the Lightweight Classic, there are plenty of two-stroke Hondas and Yamahas in the main Lightweight and Ultra-Lightweight events. The 400cc four-cylinder four-strokes also outlawed at the TT are maintaining their presence at the MGP, where they run alongside the single-cylinder 125cc two-strokes in the Ultra Lightweight race.
Prominent among the two-stroke ranks will be Gavin Bell from Selby, who goes for the Lightweight on a 250RS Honda. However, he goes four-stroke for the Junior, where his mount will be an R6 Yamaha. He already has two third and two fourth places and six replicas to his credit.
Three of the riders who took top six places in last year’s Junior and Senior races return for a further go at ascending to the top step on the rostrum. With Dean Silvester and Davy Morgan moving to the TT, Ian Pattinson from Weardale is the favourite. He finished second to Morgan in the 2004 Senior and has a 600cc Honda for the Junior and a 750cc Suzuki for the Senior, both from the stable of Douglas sponsor Martin Bullock.
Alan Jackson from Southport finished third in the Senior last year and will ride a 600cc Honda in the Junior, sponsored by W.A. Corless Joinery, and a 750cc Kawasaki in the Senior, sponsored by Wilson and Collins.
Dungannon’s John Burrows had two top-six places last year. He was fifth in the Junior and sixth in the Senior. This year he races a 600cc Yamaha in the Junior and a 750cc Suzuki in the Senior, both backed by HM Sports Motorhomes.
The Classic races also have a fine field for 2005, with TT stars Richard Britton, Chris Palmer, Bud Jackson, Roy Richardson, Steve Linsdell and Nick Jefferies all entered. Linsdell will again ride the exotic 500cc Italian Paton twin. Pat Sefton will also be back with his 500cc Gilera four.
Last year’s Senior Classic winner Derek Whalley will surprisingly not defend his title, but will ride a 350cc 7R single cylinder AJS in a further bid to defeat the Honda twins. Last year he finished second to Chris McGahan. Chris, who now lives in the IOM again ride the Hales Honda in the Junior and Smith and Bray Classics’ Trekdean Seeley Matchless in the Senior.
If the weather is really unfavourable, Marcus Bisson might be an outside bet for victory. The Jerseyman finished third in the 1991 World Ice Speedway Championship! He is also a highly accomplished hill-climb star, so should be quick up the Mountain. And if he runs wide at Windy Corner, his sand racing skills might also come in handy. The Mike Hailwood Foundation assisted him during the winter, laying on instruction from Davy Morgan and Mark Castle.