Ramsey’s Andrew Dudgeon won a superb Junior Manx Grand Prix Race; coming from behind to take the spoils from long time leader Tom Weeden.
Overnight there had been heavy rain on the Isle of Man; but the morning dawned sunny and warm; with a stiff breeze blowing; ideal for drying out the still wet track. Clerk of the Course Gary Thompson delayed proceedings to allow for the track to dry as much as possible. The race finally began at 11.45am after a delay of 90 minutes. Ahead of the start, the riders were advised of damp patches all around the course, notably under the trees at Ballacraine, Black Dub, Laurel Bank, Glen Helen, Ramsey Hairpin and Governors Dip. It is long past time that the trees that have been allowed to grow as weeds around the track were removed; not only do they slow drying; they allow lichen to grow on the surface and they present an unnecessary added danger to riders. Money would be better spent on that, than being wasted on World Series consultants etc.
The Guest of Honour for the meeting, Tom Dickie, who was celebrating the 50th anniversary of his 1966 Senior Manx Grand Prix Senior win, acted as starter for the race. Andrew Farrell, who finished third in the 2014 Junior MGP Race, was first away followed by 2014 Senior MGP runner up, New Zealand’s Michael Moulai, on the Des and Dot Collins Kawasaki. Dudgeon, who was the fastest qualifier, was third away from the start line on the Slick performance Suzuki; followed by Weeden on the sweet sounding Triumph triple.
Farrell on the B&W Racing Honda was first on the road to Glen Helen. The fastest of all out the blocks was Weeden; he led Farrell by 1s on corrected time at the commentary point; with Dennis Booth a further 3s back in third. Dudgeon, Richard Charlton and Mike Moulai filled out the nascent leader board; with less than 2s covering them.
At Ballaugh, Weeden led by 1.5s from Farrell and Dudgeon moved ahead of Booth into the top three. Dudgeon was the fastest through the Sulby speed trap at 171.2mph. It was a lovely sunny morning at Waterworks; which was sheltered from the stiff breeze and consequently pleasantly warm. First to burst into the sunlight out of the gloom under the trees at the first right hander was Farrell. He was followed by Moulai and then it was Dudgeon, who had Weeden just 150m behind him; most of the 10s starting interval eroded in the 24.75 miles to our location. From then on it was continuous action as the riders swept around the two corners and powered away towards Tower Bends. Our watch showed Weeden to be leading by 2s from Farrell; with Dudgeon third 5.9s down on Farrell. Booth, Moulai and Barry Lee Evans completed the leader board; with 2.5s covering them.
The top three remained the same at the Bungalow with Weeden’s lead 2.7 seconds over Farrell with Dudgeon closing to be five seconds back in third, whilst Moulai had edged narrowly ahead of Booth into fourth.
Weeden’s opening lap of 119.060mph gave him a two seconds lead over Farrell; who lapped at 118.846mph; Dudgeon – 118.295mph was a further five seconds back in third. Moulai 116.653mph was fourth with Barry Lee Evans, on the Percy’s Autos Kawasaki, fifth at 116.619mph; just 1.8s ahead of Davey Lambert – 116.433mph. Booth had slipped down to seventh.
At Glen Helen on lap 2 Weeden had increased his lead to 4.8s over Farrell, Dudgeon was 3s down on Farrell and continuing to edge closer.
At Waterworks Farrell led on the road; but was being caught quickly by Dudgeon and Weeden who were just 1s apart on the road. Farrell had been relegated to third on corrected time, 13.9s down on Dudgeon. Evans, Joe Akroyd on the Oilee Racing Suzuki and Moulai completed the ever changing leader board.
Weeden led by 9s at the Cronk ny Mona checkpoint, little over 1 mile from the Grandstand. He must have had some minor issue on that section because he entered pit lane just 4.1s ahead of Dudgeon, who was the fastest rider on lap 2 at 119.618mph. Farrell was a further 13s seconds behind Dudgeon in the final podium place. Barry Lee Evans maintained fourth place 26 seconds behind Farrell with Joe Akroyd, fifth 7.4s ahead of Moulai.
Although Weeden gained three seconds on Dudgeon in the pits, his lead was down to 3.7 seconds at Glen Helen on the third lap; Farrell, not helped by a relatively slow pit stop was losing touch with the duellists, being 20s adrift. At Waterworks, Dudgeon was flying and, perhaps aided by an easier pass of a lower order rider, was 0.6s in the lead on our watch. Farrell was a further 23.5 seconds behind Weeden. Jason Corcoran gave the marshals a scare at Waterworks as he lost the back; clipped the low kerb; but somehow regained control and continued.
It was nip and tuck over the mountain; with less than 1s between the leading duo. Dudgeon’s third lap of 115.246mph gave him a lead of just 0.1 seconds from Weeden – 114.819mph as they began the fourth and final lap. Farrell’s seemed secure in the final podium place, being 38.8s ahead of Akroyd; Evans and Moulai completing the leader board.
The scene was set for a thrilling last lap and all eyes were on the leading pair at Glen Helen with Dudgeon extending his lead over Weeden, albeit only to 0.5 of a second.
Farrell was reported off at Glen Helen and taken by airmed to Nobles Hospital with arm and shoulder injuries; hopefully they are not serious and he will make a full recovery in no time at all. His misfortune meant that Akroyd moved into the top three with Evans, Moulai and Lumsden completing the leader board.
The leading pair were enjoying a thrilling battle; Weeden had moved back into the lead at Ballaugh, albeit by 0.43s. Dudgeon was quickest on the 7 mile run into Ramsey, but had a nasty tank slapper at White Gates. Despite this he led by 1.95s at Waterworks as he powered away up the mountain.
Weedon would not be shaken off by the Manx rider and the gap was 2 seconds at the Bungalow; however Dudgeon was the quicker down the mountain. His last lap was the best of the race at 120.212mph and it enabled him to take the chequered flag at a new race record average speed of 118.311mph (1:16.32.229). Weeden‘s last lap was at 119.833mph; this left him just 3.7s down on Dudgeon at a race average speed of 118.216mph.
Dudgeon achieved his ambition of joining the ‘Tommy Club’ for 120mph Manx Grand Prix riders. It is named after the late Tommy Clucas, who was the first to break the barrier during the 2004 Junior MGP. Dudgeon is the ninth rider to join this most exclusive of clubs.
Joe Ackroyd with an average of 115.823mph took the final podium place; with Barry Lee Evans 115.344mph; Moulai 115.198mph and Lumsden 114.885mph completing the leader board. Wayne Humble was the best placed newcomer going into the last lap but the Alston man slid off at Governors on the last lap. This left local rider Brendan Fargher, in 13th, as the highest placed newcomer; his average speed was an excellent 113.792mph; his best lap 116.129mph.
Humble was reported to be complaining of pain in his shoulder and leg following his off, whilst James Robertson was described as conscious and talking after coming off at Black Dub. Steve Moody was also described as conscious after an accident at Keppel Gate. We wish them all a full recovery.