Regulations are being finalised for the 2006 Manx Grand Prix Races, due to be held on the Mountain Course in the Isle of Man starting on August 19th. There are no substantial changes, with the usual events remaining for four main racing classes, three newcomers’ events and three races for classic machines.
It is 60 years since the resumption of the MGP following the Second World War, and interest in the event has seldom been higher.
About 350 individual competitors will gather for a full week’s practising and a further week of racing over the 37 and three-quarter mile Snaefell Mountain Course. The Manx Grand Prix has always been seen as the feeder event for the TT Races, and contemporary TT stars such as Ryan Farquhar and Adrian Archibald cut their teeth in the amateur meeting a few years ago. Archibald’s best MGP result was 2nd, but he has since won three TTs. Farquhar won the 1999 Senior Newcomers’ MGP and the 2000 Senior MGP and has since won two TTs.
In the past, riders who started their Isle of Man racing careers even went on to win world championships. Men such as Geoff Duke and Phil Read both won the Manx Grand Prix before moving on to the heady heights of the FIM World Championship having secured rides with factory teams such as Norton, Gilera, MV Agusta, Honda and Yamaha.
The better MGP newcomers usually also enter their respective main classes later in the week’s racing, and more than one has moved seamlessly into the cut-and-thrust and defeated all comers. They include Philip McCallen from Portadown who electrified the MGP with his winning rides in the Newcomers and main 250cc Lightweight events in 1988.
The Classic classes have also allowed a number of riders who moved on to the TT being able to return for another turn in the MGP, which would otherwise be not possible under the rules which call for main winners to advance to the TT, but doing the Classic is not included.
Phil Read from Luton was one such competitor who won the 1960 Senior Manx Grand Prix, was victorious in eight TTs then returned to the MGP to compete in the Classic. Another who took a similar path was Nick Jefferies from Bradford, who won the 1983 Senior Manx Grand Prix, took victory in the 1993 TT Formula One then came back to the MGP Classic, where he finished second Bill Swallow in the 1999 500cc event.
The main winners at the 2005 Manx Grand Prix, Seamus Greene from Letterkenny and Ian Pattinson from Weardale, will continue in the same vein as many before them, in that they have their names down for the 2006 TT where they will ride for Martin Bullock Racing, the team which provided the machines for their respective Senior and Junior MGP successes.
One of the stars of the 2006 MGP is sure to be Barry Davidson, who won the 2002 250cc Newcomers’ race. He will be sponsored in the 250cc by Cleaver Brown and on the 600cc model by the Royal Hotel, Cookstown.