Blenheim-based New Zealander Mike Moulai is bidding to become the first Kiwi to win the Senior Manx Grand Prix.
The 42-year-old former runner-up suffered bitter luck when losing more than eight minutes early on the first lap of last year’s race with an electrical relay issue.
But he successfully diagnosed the problem, fixed it and continued, eventually bringing his Kawasaki ZX-6R home in 37th place.
His final lap of 119.100mph was bettered by just four riders, including only two of the three podium finishers.
On paper he is the quickest of the 88 riders entered this time, when he is to ride a Kawasaki ZXR750 from the same Des and Dot Collins stable.
Local man Andrew Dudgeon and Maidstone’s Tom Weeden are two of the other likely favourites, along with Irish pair Andrew Farrell and Dennis Booth, Manxman Glenn Harrison, Wigan’s Jamie Hodson, Welshman Rhys Hardisty and Davey Lambert of Gateshead.
Skerries man Farrell, twice a podium finisher, will be first away in both the Junior and Senior. He will be GSX-R750-mounted for the larger capacity race, which has a 750cc limit as opposed to 1000cc for four-cylinder machines in the Senior TT. The other main differences are that the Manx is restricted to treaded tyres and the race is over four laps of the Snaefell Mountain Course as opposed to six for the pros in the TT.
The vast majority of riders will be on 600s for the Senior race, purely down to the lack of choice of 750s.
It means that the entry for the Junior race 48 hours earlier on Wednesday, August 31, is virtually the same, with only Farrell, Moulai and David Lumsden of the top-20 seeded riders on 750s for the Senior.
Of the Continental riders, Thomas Gottschalk of Germany is the best bet for a leaderboard finish.
The Supertwin and Lightweight classes run concurrently on the Wednesday afternoon and Dudgeon has to start as favourite on the Suzuki SV650 up against fellow local Dean Osborne on the more popular ER-6 Kawasaki.
Lumsden, Farrell, Hodgson and Hardisty are likely to feature prominently, but all eyes will be on veteran campaigner Nick Jefferies to see if he can become the oldest ever winner of a Manx Grand Prix at the age of 63. He was third last year, but the one and only time he won a Manx GP was back in 1983 on a Suzuki RG500.
There’s an interesting mix of machines for the Lightweight from two-stroke 125s to ageing 400-4s and a lone NSF250R Moto3 bike ridden by multiple sidecar TT-winning passenger Dan Sayle.
The latter man is no mean solo rider, and has a couple of Lightweight MGP wins to his credit, but it will remain to be seen whether the little Moto3 machine has the legs of the 400s on the undulating 37.7-mile course.
Alex Sinclair of Swindon is a reasonable bet on FZR400 Yamaha, along with Nick Anderson of Scarborough on a ZXR400, local man Dave Taylor (FZR400RR) and Frenchman Lancelot Unissart on the Honda RVF400. The best of the 125s are likely to be Ulsterman Nigel Moore and another seasoned campaigner Tom Snow of Guildford.
The Newcomers event has a different look to it this year and after almost four decades of three classes it has been reduced to two, A Class for 600/750s and B Class for 650 twins/250s/400s.
There is also a limit on rookies, graded on entry by the clerk of the course and race committee to 27 and 14 respectively, down 30 on 2015.
Qualifying for the Manx Grand Prix and Classic TT commences this Saturday, August 20th, at 5.20pm, continuing on Monday evening, August 22nd, at 6.20 and continuing each week day evening until Friday, August 26th.
The Classic TT race days are Saturday, August 27th (Senior and Lightweight), and Monday, August 29th (Junior and Superbike).
The Newcomers MGP also takes place on Bank Holiday Monday, with the Junior and Supertwin/Lightweight races on Wednesday, August 31st. The Senior MGP is on Friday, September 2nd.
All races are over four laps, a distance of 150.9 miles.