This year's Manx Grand Prix could have a truly international flavour with prospective riders hailing from not only Italy, France and Switzerland, but also from America, Russia, Denmark - and even North Yorkshire. The riders were among 15 visiting the island for the second of the Manx Motor Cycle Club's familiarisation weekends.
Once again, Club chairman Peter Maddocks welcomed the visitors and thanked the Mike Hailwood Foundation for supporting the visits.
Prospective Newcomer Israel Gillette, 39, is from Jonesborough, Tennessee, who is more used to touring on his motorcycle, accompanied by his border collie cross breed, Dan, who travels in one of his panniers. 'I've been to three TTs and one MGP as a spectator. It's something I have wanted to do ever since I was much younger. He was inspired by seeing TV coverage of the event in America showing Joey Dunlop's exploits in the island.
'When I came to the TT in 2013, it just seemed so fast but when I came back for the MGP in 2016, I thought that was maybe just a little bit more attainable’ he said 'The aim is to use my Suzuki SV650. It's a good bike for learning the course.'
Danila Krasnyuk, 31, travelled from St Petersburg in Russia. 'This is my first visit to Britain and my first to the Isle of Man but there are no Russian competitors at the TT or MGP. For Russian riders it is a dream to come here. It's even better than I imagined - very different from what you see watching the on-board race laps on DVD. I have been preparing for two years to do this event. There's a lot to learn.'
Danila intends to ride his Honda CBR600 in the event and was planning lots of laps to get the most out of his five-day visit along with his mechanic Gleb Lazutin.
Kenneth Kornov from Denmark, 33, intends to race his Yamaha R6. Another first time visitor, he
Travelled with his friend and MGP competitor, Carsten Svendsen. 'It all seems a bit surreal seeing the track you've seen so many times on DVD in real life,' he said. 'The biggest shock was how up and down the terrain was - you don't really see that on the DVDs and, of course, all those corners to learn.'
Representing Italy was 29-year-old Andrea Majola, a mechanic and test rider from La Spezia. He's hoping to ride his Paton in the Lightweight race. 'My heart was racing,' he said.
'It was quite emotional. The Mountain section looks like the most interesting part - Ramsey Hairpin to Creg-Ny-Baa.'
On-line entries for this years’ races close on Thursday April 18.
Photo Credit: Jeff Kirby