Go ‘ed Macca Laaaa!
Preparation for the TT has been at absolute fever pitch for the last few weeks. The Suzuki GSXR1000 – my original 2011 Privateer Championship winning bike – has been modified into a right beast! A bulk of expense, and huge thanks, go to James of Infront Motorcycles, Chester (www.ifm-moto.com). Kemtile, a long-term supporter of my racing, have also financially helped towards a big list of modifications. Harris have lengthened the swingarm and fitted a quick release rear wheel system. RLR Motorsport have tuned and set up the engine, now making over 200bhp (previously 178bhp) so it is now very, very strong. Ohlins suspension has been fitted all around, alongside various other mods. I have to admit things have been crazy for weeks, working all day at the unit in Chester to then carry out building race bikes until late evening.
Last week in particular sticks out as for several nights we were flat out working on the bikes and then up at 5am (having got home at 11pm) on Friday morning to collect TT virgin mechanic Jack and head for Anglesey to give the superbike and 600 a shake down. Then up at 6am the following morning to take the bikes to Zero One Race FX near York, for some final additions to the livery, and carrying on up to AM Leathers near Darlington for a final fitting, tea and cake in Barnard Castle, then back to Zero One to pick the bikes up!
The Anglesey ‘test’ went well; my plan was to give the superbike a bit of a shake down without crashing, blowing it up or getting knocked off as there was under a week left before it was going on the boat. Also the 600 needed a short run around to check it was running ok before it was dropped off at the dyno for fuelling set up. The day proved a success as a couple of minor issues were found and remedied on the superbike which otherwise would’ve caused time to have been lost during practice week. It is an absolute monster on track and barely compares to how it used to be. The engine is so strong from the midrange it just pulls and pulls all the way to a higher than stock redline.
I was most impressed, some minor changes were made to the suspension settings provided but on the whole it wasn’t far off. There wouldn’t be much point in changing loads and then having to change it again when it hits the motocross track that is the TT circuit anyway. One very noticeable change from the short circuit set up was the slipper clutch. I was keen not to wear the clutch out at the TT so slightly less slip was adjusted into it for the downshift into corners. Now, ‘backing it in’ isn’t massively my style having come from a background of riding two strokes but it’s now almost impossible to avoid! Backshifting into the hairpins at Anglesey had the rear wheel hanging out all over the place to the point where I could hear the tyre chirping on the tarmac above the other chaotic noise generally associated with hammering a motorbike around a circuit. On passing another Wirral 100 rider and celebrated Merseysider, Steve Smith affectionately known as “Smiddy”, I hit the brakes and the bike did its usual sideways-on style right to the apex of the turn. Once back into the garage, Smiddy appeared with a huge grin on his face and quotes like “You only see that sort of action in moto2″, ” The rear must’ve been 2 foot out of line” and, my favourite, “I thought, “Go ‘ed Macca Laaa!” which when translated in my Merseyside to Buckinghamshire phrase book means “Jolly impressive piece of riding Mr Mackman sir!”
The GSXR 600 Supersport bike has been kindly loaned by Mark “Bushy” Jones, of Electrico (www.electricouk.co.uk) and is another top bike. I was keen not to repeat my on-loan-Triumph catastrophic-engine-failure problem from 2011. So this time I have bought my own engine, prepared by Slick Bass in the Isle of Man for Dan Kneen, it should do the job for me. The expense was something that I could’ve done without but my Grandma would definitely have approved of using some of my inheritance to race motorbikes, she was a motorcycling fanatic. The fuelling has been set up by RLR and I’m pleased with the results.
For Superstock I have the GSXR 1000 which we use for one-to-one on-track training. We have swapped the Maxton suspension from my original GSXR, prior to the mods listed above being made. With my set up notes from 2011 still in the van and in chronological order, thanks to the wife, I can start from where I left off with this bike. Hopefully it will bring me a solid result in the Superstock race.
So with the truck loaded and on its way to catch the ferry I sit at the unit waiting for some last minute parts for the bikes to arrive. From here I head home to load the van, sleep for 13 minutes and 28 seconds then drive to Heysham to catch the 2am boat.
Aside from TT preparations things have been going well. The last Oset Cheshire trial which I ran went down really well in sunny Frodsham; 24 kids turned up to ride and, as a result, it’s shaping up to be a really good series now. I marked out the sections on the previous Wednesday afternoon. The harder of the two routes gives me the biggest challenge each time. I keep making the route harder, as I think anyway, for the first rider of the day to get round without dropping a mark. I’m constantly impressed with what the kids are capable of. My thirteen year old nephew, Jordan, comes along to the trials and uses an ipad (other tablet devices are available) to video the action. Once the event is over I piece some of the clips together and make up a video of the trial then upload it to the Infront Motorcycles website.
Jordan came and stayed over at my house the night before the trial and while watching some random film on sky movies we got onto the subject of which movies we had seen. King Kong came up in the conversation and I said “It was ok but I thought it was a bit of an epic” to which Jordan replied “I didn’t think it was that good”. Confused by the reply for a few seconds I finally came to the reality that my 1990s understanding of the word ‘epic’ doesn’t match its current 2014 meaning!
So that’s all the news, I’ll keep the blog up to date during the TT with some short reports. I believe the race truck will be in the paddock B so please come and say hello or give me a wave from the hedges. I’ll be riding number 25, which by some coincidence is also my age, in the big bike races and 28 in supersport.