A trip to the Grandstand in the morning to sign on in the press office and a walk round the paddock. They have changed the exit to the car park in Nobles Park so that you are not competing with the traffic entering the park. A hole has been cut into the wall of St Ninian's Church grounds and the traffic exits through here and then down onto St Ninians Road, which still has a temporary one way system in place. A definite improvement on previous year's.

There are plenty of people milling around the Grandstand and paddock areas. The scrutineering bays are open and the bikes are queuing to be checked. The Hailwood Centre is open for business for hot drinks, sandwiches and snacks. If you are visiting the Grandstand and need refreshments then go to the Hailwood Centre, their profits go directly into supporting Manx Grand Prix Newcomers and some TT riders. The coffee is good and it is cheaper than the commercial outlets.

As predicted by the Met Office the weather improved throughout the morning and the sun came out, a strong breeze blowing the clouds away. The roads closed on time at one o'clock, the Mountain road shutting an hour earlier. Marshals new and old acquainted themselves, some having not seen eachother since last years TT. They sweep and clear the debris off the road to make it safe for race.

Practicing was due to start at 1:30 pm but Gary Thompson, Clerk of the Course, delayed the start by 50 minutes to allow the the damp patches under the trees to dry and to reposition some marshals so that every marshalling point was correctly manned.

The newcomers speed controlled lap was first to go, five solos followed 5 minutes later by the sidecars. The supersport and lightweight classes followed a few minutes later. Conditions were improving all of the time but the wind over the Mountain was an issue at all the traditional spots. Lee Johnston,, Ashcourt Racing Yamaha, and Ian Hutchinson, Honda, led the field away.

Dean Harrison set the fastest speed of the afternoon (126.09 mph) and when interviewed said: “I hit traffic early in the session, but it as the session went on and we got some rubber on the track. And going into windy corner I was leant right over in a straight line! However, 126 on the first night is good going.”:

Photographs courtesy of Harvey Brewster.
Fastset man of the afternoon, the irrepressible Dean Harrison

Michael Dunlop, Connor Cummins, Jamie Coward and James Hillier also put in strong performances. Jamie Coward topped the lightweight leaderboard with a lap of 119.96 mph, he was followed by Michael Dunlop, Paul Jordan and Derek McGee. Jamie commented: “The Kawasaki definitely showed what it’s capable of but there’s still a few things that we can improve on. It’s a fair achievement on the first day.”

Maria Costello enjoyed her first closed road sidecar lap as a newcomer before clocking 109.40mph on her Paton in the Solo Lightweight class.

Photographs courtesy of Harvey Brewster.
Maria Costello and Susan Jenness Trophy winner Julie Canipa

Sadly New Zealander Daniel Mettam came off his bike at the Black Hut in the Supersport session and was taken by airmed to Nobles Hospital, but his condition was not reported to be serious. The Mountain Road will be closed on Monday Morning between Ramsey Hairpin and the Bungalow to repair the road at the Black Hut.
The session finished at 4 :45 pm with many riders completing 4 or 5 laps, it was a shame that the sidecars weren't given a run out for the last hour as conditions improved throughout the afternoon.

Photographs courtesy of Harvey Brewster.
Danial Mettam before his Black Hut Spill


Mike Hammonds