AS the first practice of Manx Grand Prix fortnight approaches on Saturday, both sea and air bookings are significantly up.
The Steam Packet has said 16 per cent more motorbikes are booked on to sailings than last year.
Meanwhile, Flybe bookings are up 10 per cent, with flights from Manchester Airport topping the charts, closely followed by those in and out of Gatwick. The airline’s busiest day is August 24, the day before the race programme is due to kick off with the Newcomers Race.
A statement from the Steam Packet said: ‘Following on from a successful TT and Southern 100, the Isle of Man Steam Packet Company is pleased to announce that forward bookings for the MGP fortnight are currently showing a 16 per cent increase in the number of motorcycles booked to visit the island.’
Chief executive Mark Woodward continued: ‘It’s fantastic to see passenger bookings increasing for the MGP Festival across the board.
‘We’ve long supported the MGP, through offering discounted travel to competitors, marshals and paramedics and it’s great to see its popularity increasing.
‘Race marshals are a vital part of both the TT and MGP festivals and for the fifth year running we have been encouraging volunteers to cover both events by offering significant savings on travel to the MGP for marshals who have covered TT. We are all looking forward to a busy and safe MGP festival.’
News of the increase in visitors will be music to the ears of fans after the recent wrangle over the future of the event.
This month government made what was widely regarded as a U-turn on proposals to shelve most of the modern bike classes at the event and focus on classics from 2013.
The proposals had been met with a demonstration outside Tynwald, formation of the MGP Action Group and an online petition which reached in the region of 10,000 signatures.
The Action Group, an independent group unconnected with the MMCC, was active during the TT, handing out tee-shirts bearing the ‘Save the Manx’ slogan.
But in the last fortnight the DED has revealed it no longer plans to cut the event short or scrap any of the modern bike classes.
Instead, a three-day classic festival based around the middle weekend, incorporating the classic races on Saturday and Bank Holiday Monday as well as the Vintage Motor Cycle Club’s Festival of Jurby on Sunday, will be held.
This will be rebranded the Classic TT Races, it will be run by the MMCC and promoted by the DED.
The modern races will be branded as the Manx Grand Prix Races and will continue to be run by the Manx Motor Cycle Club, with financial support from DED.
This year’s Manx Grand Prix begins on Saturday and ends on August 31.
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Weather for Isle of Man
Saturday 18 May 2013
Temperature: 8 C to 11 C
Wind Speed: 21 mph
Wind direction: North west
Temperature: 9 C to 13 C
Wind Speed: 10 mph
Wind direction: East