HISTORIC VICTORY FOR LOPEZ IN JUNIOR MGP
Victor Lopez made history on Saturday afternoon as 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 MGP Supporters Club Junior Manx Grand Prix.
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 14.82 seconds.
Yeardsley led Bottalico by 1.2 seconds through Glen Helen for the first time with Lopez only 0.2 seconds further back. 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 Kawasaki challengers with Michael Rees (Rapidgrid) in seventh on another Paton.
The lead had gone up to 5.6 seconds at Ballaugh but by the time Yeardsley reached Ramsey in the north of the Island, Lopez had brought it back down to 5.1 seconds whilst further back, Simpson had jumped up to third. He was five seconds behind Lopez and only 0.3 seconds ahead of Bottalico with Dan Ingham (Castings technology Aprilia) now up to fifth and only two tenths of a second behind. Majola had slipped to sixth.
An opening lap of 116.906mph gave Yeardsley a new lap record and a 6.8 seconds lead over Lopez who, in turn, led Bottalico by 7.6 seconds. He only led Paton team-mate Majola by 0.7s with Simpson and Ingham still well in contention in fifth and sixth. Marc Covin (RC Racing Kawasaki), Rees, Williams and Samuel Mousley (Heattech Racing Yamaha) rounded out the top ten.
Yeardsley added another 2.7 seconds to his lead over Lopez by the time he reached Glen Helen for the second time and the Spaniard’s advantage over Bottalico had come down slightly to 6.7 seconds. Majola had doubled his gap to fifth, which was now held by Ingham as Simpson dropped back to sixth.
However, Yeardsley didn’t make it to Ballaugh having stopped at Kirk Michael and at Ramsey second time around, Lopez led Bottalico by 9.4 seconds with the latter now coming under pressure from Majola, the difference between the two just 1.7 seconds. Ingham, Simpson and Colvin were now in fourth to sixth.
A second lap speed of 116.574mph gave Lopez a lead of 9.4 seconds over Bottalico with Majola having now cut the gap to his fellow Italian to 1.8s seconds. Ingham was still in fourth from Simpson and Colvin, 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 2.7 seconds and it was Majola who was in second but whilst Bottalico had dropped to third, he was only 4.2 seconds adrift so with less than seven seconds covering the trio, it was all to play for. They were more than 25 seconds clear of new fourth-place man Colvin with Simpson in fifth and Rees up to sixth.
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 1.7 seconds. Bottalico was still in the hunt, only 5.5 seconds behind his fellow Italian Majola and Colvin, Simpson and Rees continued to occupy fourth to sixth with Ingham climbing back up to eighth.
The lead had increased further at Glen Helen on the fourth and final lap with Lopez leading by 3.8 seconds and with a superb lap record speed of 117.645mph, he pulled clear to eventually win by almost 15s from his fellow Paton rider. Bottalico completed the podium in third to make it a Paton 1-2-3 with Colvin, Simpson and Rees maintaining station as Ingham, Mousley, Williams and David Rigby (Island Fuels/Gasiom/Watches of Mann Kawasaki) completed the top ten.