Dromore’s Stephen McKnight is out to take the fight to Michael Sweeney in Wednesday’s Junior race at the 90th anniversary Manx Grand Prix on the Isle of Man (1.30pm).
McKnight, who finished third in the corresponding event last year, closed the gap to Skerries man Sweeney at the top of the time sheets following practice on Monday night.
Sweeney was credited with the fastest lap overall for the Junior class at 117.338mph on the MJR Racing Yamaha R6, but McKnight’s lap of 116.605mph on Monday on his Yamaha R6 underlined the Northern Ireland rider’s chances of returning to the rostrum on the 37.73-mile Mountain Course.
Tim Poole (Kawasaki), James Cowton (Honda) and Colin Stephenson also lapped at 116mph on Monday.
The Newcomers event will also take place on Wednesday (10.15am) when Connor Behan rides for Ryan Farquhar’s V team.
Behan, who has impressed on his debut at the Irish road races this season, lapped at 110.556mph to set the fourth fastest time in Monday evening’s session.
Although Alexander Picket’s speed of 114.810mph set last Thursday marks him out as the rider to beat.
Both races today will be held over four laps and the Manx Grand Prix concludes on Friday with the Supertwin/Lightweight and Senior races, scheduled for 10.15am and 2pm respectively.
On Monday, the inaugural Classic TT races – combined with the traditional Manx GP meeting to form the rebranded Isle of Man Festival of Motorcycling – ended on a high for Michael Dunlop, who won the Formula 1 race on his Suzuki XR69 from Conor Cummins.
Meanwhile, Morecambe’s John McGuinness, who had never competed at the Manx Grand Prix before but jumped at the chance to ride in the first-ever Classic TT, aired his disappointment after the 20-time TT winner retired from Saturday’s 500cc race on the Winfield Paton after one lap.
McGuinness had set the second fastest lap during his sole outing on the machine in practice with a speed of 111mph, but missed Wednesday and Thursday’s sessions due to electrical issues, while Friday’s practice was cancelled due to wet weather last week.
“It’s really disappointing for the race to end like it did as the bike was flying at the beginning of practice week,” he said.
“The lap of 111mph felt great and came relatively easy but after that we had nothing but trouble and we never did get to the bottom of the electrical problems.
“The team did everything to get the bike ready for the race day but it wasn’t right and all I could do was cruise round.
“It’s a huge shame for everyone concerned - myself, the team, the fans - as I felt we could have given a good account of ourselves and put on a good show but it wasn’t meant to be,” added McGuinness.
“I’ve really enjoyed the whole Festival of Motorcycling though so hopefully we can come back next year and give it another go.”