Maidstone’s Tom Weeden won one of the closest finishes in Manx Grand Prix history, clinching the Full Factory Winnerswear Senior Manx Grand Prix by less than a second from Andrew Dudgeon after 150 miles of racing around the Mountain Course, adding his name to the illustrious list of previous winners that includes Harold Daniel, Doug Pirie, Geoff Duke, Phil Read, Nick Jefferies and Ryan Farquhar.
Weeden clinched the race win with a last lap of 121.109, the fastest of the race, clawing back a nine second deficit over second placed Dudgeon at Glen Helen to take the chequered flag.
Speaking in the winner’s enclosure at the end of the race an elated Weeden said: “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. 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.”
Andrew Dudgeon later revealed that he’d hit a bird at Ballagarey and been held up by backmarkers on the last lap at Ballagarey but gave credit to Weeden on his win: “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.”
Former Senior MGP Race winner Tom Dickie was on the start line as guest of honour of the Manx Motorcycle Club, 50 years after he won the race for the last race of the 2016 IMGold Manx Grand Prix meeting.
After a delay of an hour and a half to allow the roads to dry after the overnight rain, the race got underway at 11.45 with Ramsey’s Dudgeon, riding the Team Slick Performance Racing Suzuki, first away followed by New Zealand’s Michael Moulai, the 2014 Senior MGP runner up, on Team Collins & Russell’s Kawasaki.
The Isle of Man’s Michael Evans, Monday’s Newcomer A Race winner and the fastest qualifier for the race, was third away from the start line on Glencrutchery Road with Maidstone’s Tom Weeden, riding a Triumph, the fourth rider to leave the line.
Dudgeon was first to Glen Helen on the road but Tom Weeden was just over 2 seconds up on Dudgeon at the first timing point. Joe Ackroyd, who was reported to have some issues on the start line, had clearly resolved them as he slotted into second place at Glen Helen, half a second behind Weeden from a starting position of 17th. Michael Evans was well placed in fourth, just over a second behind Dudgeon, and was leading the ‘Evans’ battle from Barry Lee and Gareth in 5th and 6th respectively.
Dudgeon was on the charge and had cut the deficit to less than half a second to race leader Weeden by Ramsey with Joe Ackroyd almost 1.5 seconds back in third. Richard Wilson, from Lancashire, moved up to fourth to challenge the leaders with Gareth Evans moving into fifth, eleven seconds behind the leader.
With lap times noticeably slower over the mountain section, with riders responding to the lack of adhesion flags, new race leader Dudgeon was first across the line on the opening lap with 118.960 a second ahead of Weeden (118.847) with Ackroyd (117.953) completing the top three. Wilson’s 117.416 kept him in fourth ahead of Barry Lee Evans (117.071).
The leading pair Dudgeon and Weeden were clearly stretching away from the chasing pack with the former moving two seconds ahead of Weeden by Glen Helen on the second lap and the latter now over eight seconds in front of third placed man Ackroyd.
Coming into the pits at the end of the second lap Dudgeon’s 119.577(18.55.905) gave him a lead over almost eight seconds over Weeden 118.866/ 19.02.703) with Ackroyd’s second lap of 118.803/ 19:03.304 consolidating third almost ten seconds back.
The euphoria of race wins for Michael Evans and Jamie Hodson on Monday and Wednesday was reduced when the pair were forced to retire in the pits at the end of the second lap but at the front of the field Dudgeon gained almost two seconds on Weeden in the pits and extended his lead to over nine seconds by Glen Helen on the third lap.
Dudgeon maintained the nine second gap from second placed Weeden with a third lap of 115.066 to Weeden’s 114.947 with Ackroyd well set in third place, 21 seconds back on the leading pair but 22 seconds ahead of fourth placed man Wilson with Barry Lee Evans completing the top five.
Dudgeon seemed to have the race won with a gap of 9.7 seconds at Glen Helen but Weeden clawed back three seconds by Ballaugh and by Ramsey the gap was down to 3.5 seconds. Weeden had nudged fractionally into the lead by the Bungalow, but only by a mere 0.178 which he extended to 0.8 by Cronk Ny Mona.
When Dudgeon came through the finish line in a time of 118.383/ 1:16.29.453 all eyes were on the clock to see if Weeden could finish within thirty seconds and take the win and he duly crossed the line with a last lap of 121109 for an overall race time of 1:16.28.779 to win by less than a second. Ackroyd completed the top three in 117.551/ 1:17.01.944 with Wilson (116.458/ 1:17.45.308) and Moulai (16.129/ 1:17 .58.522) completing the top five. Austrian Julian Trummer was the highest placed newcomer in 13th place with 114.439/ 1:19.07.610.
1 4 Tom Weeden Triumph 01:16:28.779 118.400 Replica
2 1 Andrew Dudgeon Suzuki / Team Slick Performance Racing 01:16:29.453 118.383 Replica
3 17 Joe Akroyd Suzuki / OILEE RACING 01:17:01.944 117.551 Replica
4 10 Richard Wilson Honda / TW Suspension Tech 01:17:45.306 116.458 Replica
5 2 Mike Moulai Kawasaki / Team Collins & Russell 01:17:58.522 116.129 Replica
6 22 Royce Rowe Suzuki / Les Rowe and Associates 01:18:05.035 115.968 Replica
7 18 Darren Cooper Kawasaki / MJ Davidson Groundworks 01:18:17.995 115.648 Replica
8 6 Davey Lambert Kawasaki / M&S Newcastle / Beamish Car 01:18:18.581 115.633 Replica
9 5 Glenn Harrison Suzuki / Chris Preston / Toyo Tyres 01:18:31.984 115.304 Replica
10 8 David Lumsden Suzuki / Martin Bullock Manxsport 01:18:45.654 114.971 Replica
11 20 Tom Robinson Kawasaki / Pete Stacey 01:18:52.984 114.793 Replica
12 33 Sean Connolly Kawasaki / VTS TRANSPORT 01:18:54.281 114.761 Replica
13 29 Julian Trummer* Honda / ESS-Group 01:19:07.610 114.439 Replica
14 16 Richard Charlton Yamaha / CPL products 01:19:07.767 114.435 Replica
15 27 Allan Brodie Suzuki / PRF Racing 01:19:21.338 114.109 Replica
16 19 Peter Wilkinson Yamaha / Rusty Rack Racing 01:19:42.070 113.614 Replica
17 31 Jamie Williams* Honda / Ocean ford isle of man 01:19:56.832 113.265 Replica
18 26 Steven Procter Yamaha 01:20:06.044 113.048 Replica
19 24 Justin Collins Yamaha / Collins Racing 01:20:21.751 112.679 Replica
20 21 Jason Corcoran Suzuki / j&j building contractors 01:20:25.096 112.601 Replica
21 23 Thomas Gottschalk Suzuki / FC Moore 01:20:32.971 112.418 Replica
22 14 Murray McConnachie Triumph / cabot tyres 01:20:39.959 112.255 Replica
23 32 Raul Torras Martinez* Yamaha / Martimotos Road Racing Team 01:20:44.639 112.147 Replica
24 46 Paul Williams* Kawasaki / M&B Scaffolding / Potchys MOT 01:20:46.355 112.107 Replica
25 25 Chris Cook Kawasaki 01:20:54.554 111.918 Replica
26 56 Masayuki Yamanaka Honda / Challenge YAMANAKA48 with NA 01:20:59.811 111.797 Replica
27 66 Robert Whittall Suzuki / Moto-Design 01:21:04.654 111.686 Replica
28 41 Frederic Besnard Kawasaki / henrimoto/martimotos 01:21:18.916 111.359 Replica
29 30 Shaun Evans Kawasaki / Vanguard Shopfitting 01:21:42.745 110.818 Replica
30 55 Radley Hughes Honda / Cowton Racing 01:21:46.725 110.728 Replica
31 11 Charles Rhys Hardisty Yamaha / REPS Motorcycles/KayMac 01:21:56.940 110.498 Replica
32 15 Mike Minns Yamaha / merlin sidecars,neil fairless 01:22:01.255 110.401 Replica
33 53 Matt Mylchreest Kawasaki / Gorilla Racing 01:22:01.742 110.390 Replica
34 59 Sam Johnson Yamaha / Pete Stacey 01:22:03.048 110.361 Replica
35 48 Victor Lopez Santos Yamaha / Team Martimotos 01:22:15.859 110.074 Replica
36 42 Jim Barnett Suzuki / Synergia Coaching Ltd 01:22:44.601 109.437 Replica
37 63 Stephen Carmichael Kawasaki 01:22:56.890 109.167 Replica
38 40 Andy Lovett Honda / awl engineering ltd 01:22:58.711 109.127 Replica
39 34 Stuart Hall Honda 01:23:05.733 108.973 Replica
40 47 Jason Brewster Suzuki 01:23:11.995 108.837 Replica
41 54 Dave Taylor Yamaha / Pete Stacy/Laslett 01:23:20.856 108.644 Replica
42 84 Ian Gardner Kawasaki / UFLEET LTD 01:23:28.946 108.468 Replica
43 80 Leon Murphy Suzuki / LM racing 01:23:43.762 108.148 Replica
44 58 Gaz Evans Honda / Contract Natural Gas 01:23:44.499 108.133 Replica
45 57 Colin Croft Suzuki / John Redfern Racing 01:23:56.734 107.870 Replica
46 38 Emmett Burke Honda / Herts MX Letchworth 01:24:28.258 107.199
47 52 Iain Hill Honda / Hills Racing 01:24:49.801 106.745
48 69 Ross Orchard Yamaha / North Cornwall Motorcycles 01:24:50.490 106.731
49 68 Jason Heritage Yamaha / J Heritage Ltd 01:25:03.181 106.465
50 83 Peter Creer Honda / MoneyShot Racing 01:26:01.054 105.272
51 92 Stuart Bedford Suzuki 01:26:42.327 104.436
52 73 Rob Mitchel-Hill Suzuki / Ranga Racing 01:26:55.167 104.179
53 91 Sarah Boyes Yamaha 01:27:19.554 103.694
54 87 Trevor Matthewson Suzuki / strangford holiday park 01:28:36.856 102.187
55 88 Andreas Psychogyios Yamaha / PSYCHOGYIOS RACING TEAM 01:30:10.293 100.422
56 79 Bob Farrington Ducati 01:31:10.140 99.323