Looking back, 2014 and 2015 were the Billy Redmayne and Malachi Mitchell-Thomas years. 2014 saw Billy reign victorious in the MGP Newcomer's Race, edging out Malachi by just two seconds over a race distance of 113 miles. The incredible rivalry on the road continued in similar fashion the following year with Redmayne and Thomas living up to expectation - sharing the Junior and Senior spoils, respectively. Lap records were shattered almost every lap as the two prodigies proved themselves to be the stars of the future, with Thomas setting an absolute lap record of 122.22mph in the final race of the week, a record that stood for 3 years. It was without question that both were to feature at the business end of the standings as they made the step-up to the TT in 2016. Tragically, their illustrious Mountain Course careers proved to be ultimately short-lived. Inevitable TT success was sadly, not to be.
In their memory, the inaugural 'Manx Grand Prix Riders Graduate Award' is presented each TT to the rider who makes the most successful step-up from the Manx. In its two year history since its conception in 2017, Manxman Andrew Dudgeon and Welshman Barry Lee Evans have won the accolade. Dudgeon's strong 2017 performances saw him achieve a standout 15th place in the only Supersport race that year. The equally impressive Evans has proven himself as 'Mr. Consistent', not only finishing all the races he entered at the 2018 TT, but 12 of his 13 races in his whole Mountain Course career - a rare feat. Last year saw Evans secure four top-30s, and two top-20s with 20th in the Senior TT and 16th in the Lightweight. Both riders are prime examples of the talent produced from the MGP system, following in the footsteps of Steve Hislop, Robert Dunlop and Ian Hutchinson to name but a small few.
Looking forward, those capable of scooping up the award in 2019 are many fold given the level of talent showcased in last years Manx Grand Prix. To date, 10 riders have made the move from the Manx to the TT this year, including the likes of Matt Stevenson, Dean Osborne, Morgan Govignon, James Chawke, Thomas Maxwell and Mike Browne. All of which are more than capable of leaving as best graduate.
Mike Browne's highly impressive performance in the Senior race last year, given his lack of track time and Mountain Course experience arguably puts him favourite for the award. His progress was outstandingly quick, similarly were his lap times, racking up an average speed of 119.788mph on what was the Irishman's only flying lap at racing speeds during the fortnight - a remarkable achievement in his debut year. Albeit, Browne is only running a 600cc machine at the TT this year, so his MGP-come-TT rivals may surpass his achievements on the bigger machines as he concentrates his efforts on the Supersport class. Without a doubt, all of those making the step-up to the fabled TT this year are more than capable of mixing it with the established TT exponents.
We wish ALL of our graduates the best of luck for the racing season ahead as they continue to fly the flag for the Manx Grand Prix.