It was extremely unfortunate that on such a fine evening, the start of practice should be hugely delayed by an outside source. Just as the roads were closing a two-feet wide slick of diesel running two miles from Stella Maris to Joey’s was noticed and it necessitated two sweepers from the emergency road cleaning team to clean up.
It was reminiscent of a situation in the same area a few years ago when a shattered brake disc from a car set fire to course-side gorse bushes. On that occasion it was also very fine weather and the entire session was lost.
Three-quarters-of-an-hour elapsed before the bikes could set off, led by Craig Atkinson and Derek Brien on their 600cc machines. They were warned that the area of diesel spillage would be controlled by yellow flags, meaning reduced speeds, but otherwise conditions remained good, although the setting sun proved a little troublesome later.
Missing altogether, of course, was MGP favourite-to-win Alan Jackson, whose spill exiting the Black Dub the evening before had apparently resulted in more serious injuries than first thought. Besides broken ankles, he has badly damaged a knee. The 750cc Bullock Suzuki he was riding smashed into two.
Atkinson pulled well clear of Brien as he lapped at 112.966mph, but Brien went four seconds quicker at 113.365mph on his second lap, while his rival settled for the single tour. Riding a 750cc Suzuki sponsored by Hazel’s fashions of Tamworth, Peter Symes did 113.655mph second time round, and this was to prove to be the fastest lap of the evening.
Obviously the difficulties at the start of the Mountain climb held lap speeds back a bit, so Jackson’s fastest for the week so far stayed intact, not that it would be of much comfort to him as he is out of the meeting, as stated.
The Classics got away shortly after 7.30 headed by Meredydd Owen and Chris Palmer.
Palmer made his way to the front and thrilled the crowds with the style that won him two 125cc British Championships and two 125cc TTs.
The Paton twin ridden again by Steve Linsdell and did two laps, albeit with a refuelling stop in between. He will have a bigger tank for the race.
Ryan Farquhar looked almost as pleased with his 100mph lap on his Manx Norton as his 125mph in the TT on the McAdoo Kawasaki, and reported the latest "works" mod of a great sponge slab taped to the seat a substantial improvement for giving his legs a bit of freedom from being bent double.
Former international motor-crosser Arthur Browning was out on his Jawa and clearly enjoying his annual outing. He also has one of the rare Czech bikes for the 10th Anniversary Manx Classic Trial at the end of Race Week.
One of the more significant switches of machines is that of last year’s Ultra Lightweight Newcomers’ Race winner Sam Dunlop. He has switched from a 600cc Suzuki to a 250cc Honda for the Junior race.
Original Classic winner (1983 500cc) John Goodall said the diesel was quite a problem to avoid, but paid credit to good marshalling, which had saved the session from abandonment.
There was only one spill – newcomer Graham Oakland from Immingham crashed his 600cc Yamaha at Bedstead Corner and sustained minor head and hand injuries.