Senior Race Report
After a disappointing end to the second Supersport race I was keen to get a good result on the Norton in the Senior. The day dawned baking hot, we sat listening to the Lightweight race on the radio just itching to get started. Waiting on the road for the race is always the worst part. For the ten minutes running up to the start I’d rather be anywhere else in the world than at that start line. Once the throttle is open and I’m heading off down the road it’s all fine, but for that last ten minutes I’d happily just wander back to the caravan and listen to the race on the radio!!
With some changes to the rear suspension I was confident that the Norton would take another step in the right direction. I set off and was happy with the bike, although with the bit hot conditions it really needed some more support from the rear shock. I stopped for a red flag at Glen Helen due to an incident at Bray Hill, after about a forty minute delay we followed a travelling marshal back to the start line for a delayed restart.
Beginning the whole process again I started the race; it was still baking hot and we were warned of melting Tarmac at Guthries and the Verandah. I settled into a pace and having given the rear shock some more damping the bike was feeling good. The quickshifter stopped working after half a lap. I went back to the old school – snapping the throttle closed to select the next gear. The shifter stayed inoperative for the next two laps, then landing a jump off Ballaugh Bridge I felt the ignition cut and the quickshifter was back in action and remained that way for the rest of the race!
I caught Paul Shoesmith on the road and struggled to pass him until Parliament Square. A run over the mountain later and I pitted for fuel, ‘politely’ advising Dad and Jo that the quickshifter wasn’t working. “Just ride it like your 350LC in ’98” was my Dad’s advice. I left the pits after a quick stop, Touché (my Norton mechanic) did a good job of the rear wheel change but I was back behind Shoesmith on the road. My first lap had been a 121.7 mph and third lap was around the same. I just caught Paul again at the end of the fourth lap.
A quicker stop still and I left the pits not far behind Derek Shields – this gave me something to aim at. Catching him on the approach to Kirk Michael I eventually got by at Sulby Bridge although I ran wide letting him back through. I made the pass stick into the fast right/left just after Conker Trees, giving me a clean run at the final lap which I was pleased about as I’d had about enough of taking stone hits from other people’s rear tyres. One stone in particular really stung (see pic) but I didn’t even cry!!!!
I pressed on hard but the lap times of Sunday just didn’t quite come even though the handling of the bike was a big improvement. With the melting tar at Guthries, Black Hut and the Verandah, care had to be taken through all these sections. The bike was loose on the road and I could hear stones flicking from the front wheel into the fairing/radiator. I crossed the line to set my best lap of the race 121.9mph, still just short of Sunday’s best, to finish in 24th place. I’d hoped for another top twenty, my overall race time was faster but so was everyone else’s!
All in all a good result, with such limited development and lack of practice week time on a bespoke machine, 18th and 24th place finishes were superb. My team mate Dan also made it to the flag in 36th place to complete a huge effort from the Norton factory. All of the Norton boys were really pleased with the results and so they should be.
Posted: June 9, 2013