The Manx Motor Cycle clubís decision to remain faithful to two-stroke machines for the Manx Grand Prix has been more than vindicated. There are 35 such bikes in the main races, and 25 in the Classic events.
The two-strokes were controversially dropped from this yearís TT, after the organisers went for a re-structure of classes which concentrated on four-strokes within the Superbike, Supersport and Superstock categories.
But the Manx Grand Prix again features its regular ten different classes, with 53 newcomers among the 368 individual competitors.
Hot favourites for the main races include Ian Pattinson from Weardale, Co. Durham. The 37-year-old mechanical engineer will ride a 600cc CBR-RR Honda and a 750cc GSX-R Suzuki for Martin Bullock Racing. He has finished second in three previous MGPs and has lapped at 120.42mph.
Co. Donegalís Seamus Greene is also hoping for big things. He, too, has Martin Bullock entries for the Junior and Senior, with a Honda for the 600cc race and a Suzuki for the 750cc.
Also certain to be in the hunt will be Gavin Bell from Hemingbrough, Selby. The 35-year-old also rides for Martin Bullock, but opts for the Lightweight and Junior races. In the 250cc event he will ride an RS Honda, while in the Junior he will be aboard an R6 Yamaha. He has two third and two fourth Lightweight race places already under his belt, and was ninth in last yearís Junior, his first ride on a four-stroke.
Andy Jackson from New Longton, Preston, is another guaranteed to go well. The 27-year-old plumber will ride 600cc CBR-RR Hondas in the Junior and Senior events.
A number of TT stars past and present will contest the Classic races. Richard Britton, Chris Palmer, Mark Parrett, Johnny Barton, Roy Richardson, Bud Jackson, Steve Linsdell, James Crumpton and Adrian McFarland will join regular MGP aces Chris McGahan, Derek Whalley, Alan Oversby, John Loder, Ewan Hamilton, Dave Madsen-Mygdal, Wattie Brown, Tony Myers, Bob Price, Norman Kneen and Allan Brew bidding to grab glory in Britainís number one classic event.
Also returning to the Manx will be New Yorker Dave Roper, who won the only Historic TT ever run but has yet to taste victory in the Manx Grand Prix. Twice he was leading, only to fall at the Bungalow and Kerrowmooar respectively, the latter while riding an ex-Renzo Pasolini four-cylinder Benelli. He was 2nd in the 1990 500.
Nearly 50 local riders grace the Manx, reflecting the high standard coming out of the Andreas Racing Associationís regular racing programme at Jurby. Among the leading lights not already mentioned above are Tony Cawte from Crosby, who will ride John Turnerís Hondas in the Senior and Junior Classic and a 125cc Honda in the main Ultra-Lightweight race.
Exotic machines set to roar round Snaefell include Pat Seftonís 500cc Gilera-4, Steve Linsdellís 500cc Paton twin and Harvey Swetnamís 350cc Benelli-4.
The fastest female around the Mountain Course, Maria Costello, from Spratton, Northamptonshire, returns, having lapped at 114.73mph in the 2004 TT.