It was triumph over adversity in the Senior Manx Grand Prix as Matt Stevenson took a hard fought victory over his friend Stephen Parsons after 4 laps of high speed action on the Mountain Course. No one would have given 50p for his chances when he crashed out of the Junior Race at Creg ny Baa, breaking the forks off the machine. It is a tribute to his resilience and the teamwork of his supporters that he was on the line for the start.
The best ride of the meeting was produced by Mike Browne who was able to complete just the minimum amount of practice required for the Newcomers’ Race. Half way into lap 1 of that race the motor blew up spectacularly leaving him with no engine for the Senior Race. Having somehow acquired another engine, he did one lap on Wednesday and that was it. To finish 4th in the main race of the week; lap at 119.788mph on the last lap and average 117.538mph for the race was simply amazing.
The day took us back to June; clear blue sky; hot sunshine and a dry track. David Lumsden had the honour of being first away in what was to prove a compelling spectacle. It was very close at the sharp end at Glen Helen on the opening lap. Stevenson was the leader from Parsons by 0.4s, Dean Osborne was third and James Chawke held fourth; just 1.2s covered them. Brendan Fargher was fifth and Mike Browne sixth. Fargher’s challenge soon ended in disappointment at Sulby Bridge. At May Hill in Ramsey, our amateur timing showed that the race had a new leader in the form of Parsons; he was 1.9s ahead of Stevenson; Chawke held third, Osborne fourth; Brad Vicars fifth and Daniel Ingham sixth. Vicars’ race was over when he came off at Guthrie’s; thankfully without injury.
At the end of the lap it was still extremely tight at the front; a lap at 119.881mph gave Stevenson an advantage of 0.548s over Parsons; Osborne was 3.75s further down in third. Chawke, Ingham and Andrew Farrell completed the leader board. Browne held seventh having completed his first racing lap of the circuit at 118.545mph. Lap 2 saw the leading duo begin to edge clear of their pursuers. At Glen Helen, Parsons led by 0.24s; with Stevenson now 8s clear of third placed Osborne. At Ballaugh, Stevenson was the leader once again; by 0.7s. At Ramsey, his lead was 0.6s; following a rapid run up the mountain he led by 2.8s at the Bungalow.
Stevenson joined the Tommy Club; named in memory of Peel’s Tommy Clucas; by lapping at 120.264mph, despite slowing to enter the pits to refuel. He led Parsons by 3.2s as he crossed the timing beam. Osborne was third, only 0.29s down on Parsons. Chawke was fourth, Ingham fifth and Farrell sixth; just 11.4s covered fourth to seventh. Chawke was the big loser in the pits when his machine was reluctant to fire up again; Stevenson and Osborne had the best stops.
At Glen Helen on lap 3 Stevenson was shown to be leading by 5s but that was about to change. He had left his engine running whilst refuelling and had been hit with a 10s penalty. This meant that Parsons now led by 4.6s from Osborne with Stevenson third, 0.4s down on Osborne. Farrell, Lumsden and Chawke filled out the leader board. The race ended in disappointment for Osborne, he was forced to retire at Quarry Bends. Ingham ended his chances of a podium finish when he slid off at Sulby Bridge. It seemed that Parsons was taking control of the race as the gladiators hammered between the garden walls at May Hill; he now led by 10s from Stevenson with 51.4 miles of racing left. Stevenson was again rapid on the mountain climb and had cut the lead to 7.7s at The Bungalow. As they crossed the line to begin the final lap Parsons led by 7.75s; Steven Procter was up to third, Chawke, Browne and Farrell completed the leader board.
Stevenson was on a charge; he cut the lead to 5.1s at Glen Helen; at Ballaugh it was 2.9s; at May Hill it was 1.2s; momentum was with him. Again he was fastest of all on the mountain climb and at The Bungalow the pendulum had swung; he led by almost 3s; just get around Creg ny Baa and the race would be his. Today there were to be no more dramatic moments; with a final lap of 120.974mph Matt Stevenson added his name to the illustrious list of winners of the Senior Manx Grand Prix; his margin of victory being 5.1s. Procter took a fine third and joined the Tommy Club with a final lap at 120.579mph. Browne took fourth; Farrell took fifth having lapped at 120.247mph on the fourth lap; with Chawke taking sixth.
Our overseas visitors rode well; notably Victor Lopez Santos who finished 8th with a best lap at 119.739mph; Morgan Govignon took 11th, best of 119.962mph; Francesco Curinga finished 12th, best lap 117.957mph. Local newcomer Nathan Harrison rode a fine race to finish 13th, with a best lap of 117.882mph.
Manx Grand Prix Senior Race
- Matt Stevenson Langver Yamaha 118.383mph
- Stephen Parsons Peoples Bike Kawasaki 118.251mph
- Steven Procter Stagefreight Yamaha 117.807mph
- Mike Browne Kawasaki 117.538mph
- Andrew Farrell JFR Kawasaki 117.530mph
- James Chawke Roberts Kawasaki 117.158mph