More popular than Prada
Sorry for the late update, it’s been a crazy race week. Monday’s Superstock race ended up being postponed until Tuesday. The first Supersport race went ahead on Monday, after a delay. I’d not spent an enormous amount of time on the 600 during practice week, focusing my attention on the superbike. The first couple of laps I struggled to get my head into Supersport mode; thrashing a machine with little or no mechanical sympathy isn’t really my style. I also appeared to be lacking top speed, getting passed at Sulby and then held up through the bumpy section to Ramsey. I hung onto the riders who passed me but patchy damp areas on the Mountain and light rain aren’t conditions that favour me on the TT course. The Supersport class is never my best so sticking my neck out to finish a few places higher wasn’t the sensible option. I crossed the line a disappointing 34th having lapped at 117.8mph. I managed to avoid the enormously popular physiotherapist’s tape. I’ve seen half of the competitors covered with it from the first night of practice onwards – it’s more popular than Prada, just man up and hold on!
Superstock got underway on Tuesday. Again with limited time on the stock bike we decided to fit the suspension from the superbike into the stock machine, knowing that the settings wouldn’t be too far out. I had a good steady race really. The conditions were good and the bike felt good throughout the race. There were a lot of waved yellow flags during the race. Gary Johnson had crashed exiting Ramsey hairpin and was being attended to for the first two laps. Another incident on the run up to Joey’s was covered with waved yellows for the final two laps. As a result the lap speeds were a little down on previous years. My best wishes go out to all involved in those incidents. The Superstock bike did me proud, against the high top speeds of the BMW and Kawasaki a stock Suzuki is always going to suffer down the long straights here. The good handling and stable chassis is its trump card, I was pleased to cross the line in 23rd place, lapping at just under 122mph. I have been faster in previous years on this type of bike but on-track incidents taken into account I was about on my previous pace.
Supersport race two went ahead on Wednesday as planned. A change to the gearing and instructions from team boss, James Powell, to “Rev the tits off it!” were the two main differences from Monday’s race. I set off and immediately the bike felt better on the new gearing. The first two laps were faster than I’d managed in the whole race on Monday. Coming into the pits for the only pitstop of the race, I was greeted by the fire siren sounding and pit entrance blocked. I later found out that some spilled fuel had ignited during a fill up. The rider sensibly dropped the bike on its side but the fuel filler, in his pit crew, was also on fire across his chest. Other pit crews and the fire brigade quickly sorted the blaze out. I lost around 20 seconds waiting at the stop box at the entrance to pit lane. A quick pitstop followed, I left the pits with a gaggle of riders.
Obviously a decent amount of us had been held up and with everyone’s pitstop taking about the same amount of time the track was now going to be pretty busy. I quickly got past Rob Barber and set about catching a group of three others who were about five seconds ahead. By Ramsey I was on the group one of whom was riding my old Triumph (the one that spilled its guts on the Mountain Mile in 2011). I managed to get past going into the Les Graham memorial. Getting by Ryan Kneen coming into the 33rd milestone, I was again spurred on by a small gap to Roger Maher. Making a pass on the entrance to Laurel Bank I pressed on only for Roger to pass me back on the Cronk-y-Voddy straight and signal for me to follow him! This wasn’t my plan, having caught a gap and made an overtake, following wasn’t an option. I stuck behind, getting a good exit towards Douglas Road corner I made a pass stick going into Kirk Michael. A final run over the mountain and I crossed the line in 22nd place, my best lap was my final one 120.5mph. Happy enough to have finally got the supersport bike working better for me, it had been a good race. Thanks very much to Mark from Electrico for loaning me the bike.
To be continued shortly…