Republic of Ireland racer Wayne Kirwan took a thrilling Junior Manx Grand Prix win, his first victory on the Isle of Man ahead of Durham rider Mike Minns. The pair couldn’t be separated after the first two laps but the refuelling pit stop proved decisive as Kirwan established a seventeen second lead by the end of the third lap. The Irish racer finished runner up in both the Junior and Senior races at the 2010 meeting but missed last year’s races.

Pre race favourite Jamie Coward, who qualified fastest, was first away but he was reported as off at Laurel Bank, just before Ballacraine, on the first lap leaving Northern Ireland’s Stephen McKnight at the front of the field at the first checkpoint, Glen Helen, from the Republic of Ireland’s Michael Sweeney with Kirwan in third.

Kirwin and McKnight swapped places by Ballaugh with the former holding a lead of less than a second from Sweeney with McKnight less than 2 seconds behind the leader by Ballaugh.

McKnight came back to lead at the end of the first lap with an opening lap of 19:55.08 (113.656) with Wayne Kirwan (19:56.22-113.548mph) in second and Mike Minns (19:56.84 – 113.489mph) moving up into third ahead of Sweeney (19.56.91- 113.482mph), with less than two seconds separating the first four.

The race at the front got even closer when Minns jumped to the front of the field by Ramsey on lap 2 with less than a second separating the top three of Minns, McKnight and Kirwin. By Cronk Ny Mona the gap between the front two – Minns and Kirwan – was reported to be a mere 0.18 seconds.

However Kirwin’s crew put in a decisive refuelling pit and by Glen Helen on the third lap Kirwan had established a lead of almost 18 seconds from Minns with McKnight a further seven seconds behind in third. Local rider Paul Smythe moved up into third by the Bungalow but shortly after was reported off at Keppel Gate but with no serious injury, with McKnight retaking the final podium place.

That remained the top three by the end of the race with Kirwan taking the win with 1:19.26.46 – 113.986mph, to Minns’ 1:19.53.87 – 113.335mph) with McKnight securing third with 1:20.04.99 – 113.072. There was also a stunning performance from James Cowton, the winner of Saturday Lightweight Newcomers Race who finished in fourth place with an overall time of 1:20.51.62 – 111.986mph.

Pictures: Dave Kneen