Michael Dunlop will return to the revamped Manx Grand Prix next month to contest the classic races as the event takes place on the Isle of Man for the first time since 2019.
Dunlop endured huge frustration on his last appearance at the festival almost three years ago, when the Ballymoney rider retired from the lead of the Classic Superbike race on the last lap at Hillberry.
On that occasion, the Manx Grand Prix incorporated the Classic TT races, but this year all races for classic and modern machinery will run as part of the MGP programme.
The Classic TT, first held in 2013, has been dropped this year, but the line-up still features 21-time Isle of Man TT winner Dunlop and England’s John McGuinness, who is the second most successful TT rider ever with 23 victories, three behind Northern Ireland’s legendary Joey Dunlop.
McGuinness chalked up his last win around the 37.73-mile Mountain Course in the Classic TT Senior race on Roger Winfield’s Italian Paton machine in 2019.
The 50-year-old will again be a major contender for more spoils in the class and McGuinness will be a huge draw for the organisers of the Manx GP.
An impressive line-up also includes Lee Johnston from Fermanagh, plus David Johnson from Australia.
Johnston capitalised on Dunlop’s misfortune to win the Classic Superbike race three years ago and is set to return to the Mountain Course for the first time since that victory in 2019, after he was ruled out of the TT last month through injury.
Also competing across the Senior, Lightweight and Superbike classic races are Paul Jordan from Magherafelt and the Republic of Ireland’s Derek Sheils, plus the evergreen Michael Rutter, Yorkshire’s Jamie Coward, Gary Johnson and stalwart Ian Lougher.
The Manx Grand Prix has been a springboard to TT success in the past, most notably for former winner Michael Dunlop, and the Senior and Junior MGP races feature some rising prospects who are all eager to follow in his footsteps.
These include several riders who have lapped in excess of 120mph, such as podium men Stephen Smith, Dan Ingham and Manxman Dean Osborne from Douglas.
European competitors include Victor Lopez Santos (Spain), Francesco Curinga (Italy) and Andrea Majola (Italy), while 23 newcomers are entered this year across the five Manx Grand Prix races from the Isle of Man, UK, Ireland, France, Italy and the USA.
Returning overseas competitors from Austria, France, Czech Republic, Italy, Poland, Spain, Switzerland and the USA add to the international appeal of the 99-year-old event, which boasts eight previous Isle of Man TT winners and 22 Manx GP winners.
The festival will take place from August 21-29, with racing getting under way on Friday, August 26.