Sweeney puts foot on gas to edge win in Manx
There was double delight for Irish riders Michael Sweeney and Ben Rea at yesterday's Manx Grand Prix on the Isle of Man.
Sweeney's Junior Manx win was steeped in drama, while Clitheroe-based Rea took victory in the Newcomers C class by one and a half minutes.
Skerries rider Sweeney, who openly admitted that he was on the back foot during the four lap encounter, eventually took the win in the closing stages after long-time leader James Cowton cruelly ran out of fuel just two miles from home.
The Tracblast/MJR Racing Yamaha rider, who is also supported by TT star Michael Dunlop, said: "I couldn't believe it when I saw Martin Marlow was pointing 'Number 1' with his finger at me when I came in at the end."
Sweeney added: "I knew I was back on James but I just stuck at it. The first two laps the bike was really, really hard to ride but it got better on lap three.
"On the final lap I passed Stephen McKnight at Greeba, then I had a big moment at Greeba Bridge – I nearly high-sided.
"I just thought to myself, 'easy up, let's take it steady'.
"But to come in and be told I'd won is just awesome.
"I can't thank the lads in the team enough."
Michael Russell took second place after holding third for much of the race. He was some 41 seconds down on Sweeney with Kawasaki-mounted Andy Lawson eventually taking third, a further 10 seconds adrift.
Cowton led from the drop of the flag on lap one until he ran out of fuel at the Nook on the final lap.
"I felt the bike starting to judder at the Mountain Box and just started to short shift to try and save fuel," he explained.
"But coming into Signpost it just went altogether."
Ever the sportsman, the Honda-mounted youngster – who also rides for Ulsterman Ryan Farquhar's KMR Kawasaki team – stopped to congratulate Sweeney at the winner's enclosure, despite being bitterly disappointed.
Looking ahead, last year's Manx Grand Prix Newcomers C class winner said: "We will have another go at 'Micko' again on Friday in the Senior. I'm very happy with my opening lap of 119mph, but obviously gutted to miss out on the win so close to the finish."
Despite a 30-second pit lane speeding penalty, Chris Dixon still took victory in yesterday's four-lap Newcomers A race.
Irishman Neil Lyons was the early race leader but retired at the end of lap one.
Dixon took victory in the end by some 22 seconds from KMR Kawasaki's Conor Behan.
"I knew I'd messed up the pit lane speed limit as I turned it off instead of on," he explained.
"After that I just had to go for it," he said.
Behan was delighted with his second place finish and added: "I hit a bird coming into the Verandah on the third lap, but I'm made up with second place.
"I would have been happy with 110mph, but to do 115mph on the last lap was awesome.
"Ryan (Farquhar) told me to just take my time and it would come. Thanks to the whole KMR team."
Marc Livesey took the final spot on the podium.
Callum Collister won the Newcomers B race from Joe Faragher and James Neesom.
All three riders were Kawasaki mounted.