Maidstone’s Tom Weeden produced a stunning final lap to win the feature IMGold Senior Manx Grand Prix in one of the closest finishes in the event’s history.
Weeden won by less than a second from the Isle of Man’s Andrew Dudgeon after 150 miles of racing around the Mountain Course, following in the footsteps of famous names to have won the trophy including Harold Daniel, Geoff Duke, Phil Read and Ulsterman Ryan Farquhar.
He set the fastest lap of the race on his final lap at 121.109mph, slashing Dudgeon’s advantage in dramatic fashion, who had held a cushion of nine seconds at Glen Helen.
Joe Akroyd from Knaresborough completed the podium places, while David Lumsden from Skerries was the top Irish finisher in 10th on the Martin Bullock Manxsport Suzuki.
An ecstatic Weeden said he gave everything on his final lap to snatch a thrilling triumph in a terrific finale to the 2016 Manx Grand Prix.
“Thanks for everyone that helped me. This means so much to me. I knew I was nine seconds down on the last lap and thought I’d just got to make the most of it so I loosened up and put everything in to it,” he said.
“After Wednesday I thought this is my time now. I had a little slide at Keppel Gate but got myself together and pulled my finger out on the last lap.”
Runner-up Dudgeon, who beat Weeden to win Wednesday’s Junior race, revealed he had struck a bird at Ballagarey on the last lap.
“I came into a couple of backmarkers on the last lap but I don’t want to take anything away from Tom who rode brilliantly. I was pushing on and made a couple of mistakes on the last lap but I’m happy with three podiums.”
The race was delayed by an hour and a half to allow the roads to dry after overnight rain, finally commencing at 11.45am.
Dudgeon set the pace with an opening lap of 118.960mph followed by Weeden (118.847mph) and Akroyd, who completed the top three at 117.953mph.
Coming into the pits at the end of the second lap Dudgeon’s speed of 119.577mph gave him a lead of almost eight seconds over Weeden, with Akroyd consolidating third, almost 10 seconds back.
Michael Evans, who won the Newcomers ‘A’ race, and Supertwin winner Jamie Hodson both retired in the pits at the end of lap two.
Manxman Dudgeon still held sway on lap three by nine seconds from Weeden and with his lead up to 9.7 seconds on the final lap at Glen Helen, he appeared to have the race at his mercy.
However, Weeden was on a charge on his Triumph 675 and by the time they reached Ramsey, he was only 3.5 seconds behind Dudgeon’s Suzuki GSX-R600.
As fans around the course held their collective breath, Weeden squeezed ahead by 0.178 seconds at the Bungalow and increased his lead slightly to 0.8 seconds at Cronk-ny-Mona.
As Dudgeon flashed across the line following his last lap of 118.383mph, all eyes were on the clock as Weeden powered towards the finish, sensationally snatching victory by less than one second.
Behind Akroyd in third place, Richard Wilson from Blacko in Lancashire, Blenheim’s Mike Moulai and Australian rider Royce Rowe completed the top six.
Hillsborough’s Gareth Evans, who had been as high as fifth on the Magic Bullet Yamaha, failed to finish.