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2023 Manx Grand Prix: Victor Lopez creates history with Junior win

Victor Lopez, Junior Manx GP

Victor Lopez created history on Saturday afternoon when he became the first Spanish rider to win at the Manx Grand Prix, the Team ILR Paton rider setting a new lap record of 117.645mph on his way to winning the four-lap Manx Grand Prix Junior race.

Team-mate Joe Yeardsley led after the opening lap but when he went out, Lopez did battle with fellow Paton riders Andrea Majola (Manici Racing Team by Vas Engine) and Maurizio Bottalico (Younix/Virus Power/Iumoto) before pulling away on the final lap to win by 14.82s.

Yeardsley led Bottalico by 1.2s through Glen Helen for the first time with Lopez only 0.2s further back as Majola slotted into fourth to make it a Paton 1-2-3-4 and it was Marcus Simpson (LMR Powered by Jon Cuff Electrical Kawasaki) and Jamie Williams (NCE Racing Kawasaki) who were the first non-Paton riders in fifth and sixth.

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The lead continually increased and an opening lap of 116.906mph gave Yeardsley a new lap record and a 6.8s lead over Lopez who, in turn, led Bottalico by 7.6s.

He only led Majola by 0.7s with Simpson and Dan Ingham (Castings Technology Aprilia) still well in contention in fifth and sixth. 

Yeardsley’s lead was almost ten seconds at Glen Helen on lap two but he stopped at Kirk Michael and with a second lap speed of 116.574mph, Lopez now led by 9.4s from Bottalico with Majola having now cut the gap to his fellow Italian to 1.8s.

Ingham was up to fourth from Simpson and Marc Colvin (RC Racing Kawasaki), but he had a lengthy pit stop and dropped out of the top ten.

Through Glen Helen on lap three, Lopez still led but his advantage was now 2.7s and it was Majola who was in second but whilst Bottalico had dropped to third, there was less than seven seconds separating the trio.

Majola was piling on the pressure and cut the deficit to Lopez to half a second at Ramsey on lap three but heading into the final lap, the Spanish rider had responded and led by 1.7s.

The lead had increased further at Glen Helen on the fourth and final lap with Lopez leading by 3.8s and with a superb lap record speed of 117.645mph, he pulled clear to eventually win by almost 15s from Majola.

Bottalico completed the podium in third to make it a Paton 1-2-3 with Colvin, Simpson and Michael Rees (Rapidgrid Paton) occupying fourth to sixth as Ingham climbed back up to seventh ahead of  Samuel Mousley, Williams and David Rigby

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