The Manx National Two Day Trial takes on a fresh look this weekend in a new mid-July slot for the first time in the event’s 62-year-old history.
The somewhat bold decision to move the trial forward six weeks in the calendar from the traditional Bank Holiday weekend at the end of August in the middle of MGP fortnight has proved successful.
With the Festival of Motorcycling growing in stature each year, the Two-Day was being squeezed out and, despite initial opposition, the move to July has hopefully been the right one.
With more than 270 competitors across solo and sidecar classes ready for a great weekend of action, all is set for what should be a good event.
The first riders will get underway at 8am on Saturday morning, leaving the new trial HQ at Douglas Rugby Club on Port-e-Chee to set out on the separate routes for solo and sidecar competitors.
The solos will cover around 80 miles and ride nearly 80 sections across the weekend with the sidecars covering around 60 miles and 85 sections.
All the competitors will leave the start and head west towards Peel on day one before the solos move south and the sidecars north for the afternoon, with things reversed on Sunday - the solos heading north and the sidecars south.
The solo expert class looks a lot healthier for 2017 with local riders Barry Kinley and Juan Knight sure to be taking the front-running as both are previous, recent winners of the national event.
Kinley is on a new Sherco demonstration bike supplied by Malcolm Rathmell, while fellow Andreas man Knight has another new 300 Gas Gas at his disposal, unless he sells it to someone in the meantime!
After them we have regulars such as Ben Sprigg, Andy Lee and locals Tom Maddrell and Nigel Sharp, together with youngster Josh Hanlon who could all be in the thick of the action.
Another youngster to watch out for is 18-year-old James Postlethwaite of Broughton-in-Furness, a protege of Nigel Birkett, who will be on a 125 Scorpa.
As usual in the clubman class the result is much harder to predict with any amount of potential winners. With around 195 ’non expert’ riders entered from the length and breadth of the UK and Ireland, the competition will be close throughout the weekend.
Winner in 2016, Guy Chandler is back and looking to repeat his result from last year, but riders such as Stephen Murphy, Nigel Crowther, Adam McCanna and Steve Swanson will keep the pressure on.
There will be a battle of interest between ex-road racers, Rob McElnea, Iain Duffus, Brian Morrison and Donnie McLeod to see who comes out on top, while factory Husqvarna enduro rider Danny McCanney is another to keep an eye on.
The sidecar class is looking like it could be a hat-trick for British champions Nigel Crellin and Chris Molyneux.
The local pair will have Rupert and Chris Kimber, Daryl Dale/Hannah Etherington, William Caine/Beth Thomas and a certain father and son crew from Yorkshire by the name of Luscombe biting at their heels for the whole weekend with the one route course meaning it will be nip-and-tuck all the way as the leading crews will not be able to throw much away.
l Riders and observers signing on takes place on Friday at Douglas Rugby Club, located near to Quarter Bridge on the TT Course. Observers are still needed for both solo and sidecar events, please contact Kevin Cubbon on 625909 if you areable to help, or come along to the rugby club on Friday evening from 7pm.
The trial commences 8am each day from Port-e-Chee.
The weekend is completed by the presentation of awards on Sunday evening at the Palace Hotel, Central Promenade, Douglas, with doors opening from 8pm.