Conditions were perfect for the Lightweight Manx Grand Prix with warm sunshine bathing the famous course. It turned out to be a perfect afternoon for the morning’s bridesmaid who turned into the blushing bride. Runner up in the Junior Race, Darren Cooper secured his first Mountain Course victory in the MGP Supporters’ Club sponsored race.
Jonathan Perry’s enforced absence meant that Cooper was the hare for others to follow. He was first to reach Glen Helen; but was second on corrected time; 1s down on Andrew Farrell. Marc Ironside was third, 0.3s down on Cooper. Barry Lee Evans, Victor Lopez Santos and Gary Vines completed the leader board, with just 1.1s covering them. White Gates Corner in Ramsey was something of a sun trap and pleasantly warm as the machines powered out of Cruickshanks; many pulling wheelies; then heeling into the left hand bend that John McGuinness rates as the worst on the course. Cooper led on the road; but not the watch; Farrell had edged his lead out to 1.2s, with Jamie Williams now third 2.9s down on Cooper. Evans, Vines and Santos filled out a tightly packed leader board.
An opening lap at 113.498mph gave Farrell a lead of 3.5s as he charged towards Bray Hill for the second time. Evans, Vines, Williams and Santos filled third to sixth; with just 18.3 seconds covering them all. At Glen Helen Farrell’s lead was 4.8s; with Cooper 5s ahead of third placed Evans. The pendulum now began to swing the other way; the lead was 3.3s at Ballaugh and by White Gates it was down to 0.65s on our watch. Cooper was faster up the mountain and by the Bungalow he had grabbed the lead by 1s.
A lap at 113.918mph gave Cooper a lead of 2.6s as he headed into pit lane to refuel. Barry Lee Evans was 9s further back in third, with Vines on the lone two stroke holding fourth. Vines spoiled his chances when he incurred a 30s speeding penalty. There were no such problems for Cooper; a slick routine saw him back on track with a lead of 6s. The lead remained 6s at Glen Helen, Evans was 21s behind Cooper and in turn just 2s ahead of Santos, with Williams 6s further back. The lead was unchanged at White Gates; however Cooper was rapid over the mountain section and started the final lap with a lead of 9.3s. Evans, Santos, Nick Jefferies and Williams completed the leader board; but for Williams the race was over; he retired in the pits. Vines went out shortly afterwards at Braddan.
Cooper increased his lead as the lap progressed; it was 12.6s at Glen Helen; at White Gates it was 16.1s and at the end it was 29.986s. Evans duly took third, Santos fourth, Jefferies fifth; at the age of 64 and the final leader board position was taken by Marc Ironside. Best newcomer was Dave Quine in 14th; his best lap was at 106.675mph.
There were several incidents; Scott Millar was taken to Nobles for assessment on his shoulder after his spill at Cruickshanks. Andy Fenton received fractures at Joey’s. Kevin “Ago” Murphy also suffered fractures in a coming together with Trevor Matthewson at Ramsey Hairpin. John Turner received fractures in his accident at Glen Helen. Nigel Rea was unhurt in his tumble at the Gooseneck.
MGP Supporters’ Club Lightweight Race
- Darren Cooper Kawasaki 112.713mph
- Andrew Farrell Ollies Place Kawasaki 112.062mph
- Barry Lee Evans B L Kawasaki 111.704mph
- Victor Lopez Santos Martimotos Kawasaki 111.633mph
- Nick Jefferies Morris Kawasaki 110.714mph
- Marc Ironside Shirlaws Kawasaki 109.208mph