Senior Race Report
Thursday was spent waiting for most of the day whilst the (postponed) sidecar race was completed after a further weather related delay in the morning. We had a single lap of practice scheduled for the afternoon on the superbike for the Senior race on Friday. I set off from the line next to John McGuinness, which was great as it’d give me a chance to follow and learn from the master even if only for a few miles before he buggered off into the distance. I followed John, losing a few tenths at Ballagarey, and was still with him at Greeba Bridge (around eight miles into the course). As I pulled on the bars to change direction in the high speed section running through Greeba one of the handlebars moved slightly on the fork leg. I pulled up at Ballacraine, knowing that I couldn’t finish the lap like this. Once stopped I had a go at moving the bar back. Even breaking out the gun show I was unable to move the bar highlighting how hard the rider has to work to turn a bike around here.
The marshal let me through the fence and gave me some directions on how to get back on open roads. Amazing that I’ve been coming here for eight years and still only really know my way around the course, the rest of the Island’s roads remain a complete mystery to me! I got a few odd looks riding along Douglas Prom on the superbike, having to keep turning it off in the heavy traffic – no cooling fans here folks! Getting back to the race truck, James immediately practiced the rear wheel change in preparation for the blue riband Senior race set for Friday. A top job, wheel changed in under 40 seconds, gave us all some confidence for the next day’s race.
Blue skies and great weather greeted Friday’s Senior race day. The Infront Motorcycles superbike GSXR 1000 was the bike which I’d felt most confident on, and spent the most time on, so all was set for a good race. I started well and felt good on the bike immediately, although seemed to be struggling to set a consistent lap making a few mistakes. The wind was strong over the Mountain especially tipping into Black Hut my helmet was twisting on my head against the crosswind and the bike really needed to be fought to hold the racing line.
Passing Ben Wylie on the road was the only real event of what was a fairly lonely race. My lap times were held back a bit by the wind, my best lap being five seconds short of my personal best which I was happy to be near. For some of the race I was honestly hoping to either get overtaken or catch another rider up. It really gives you something to aim at, riding around flat out for two hours on your own can lead to getting stuck in your comfort zone. Following someone else just gives you that carrot to chase and brings your times down generally.
The pitstops both went perfectly; fuel, visor and rear wheel were all swapped in 40 seconds, a testament to the team which have been with me since my first TT in 2007. I crossed the line for the final time of 2014, to finish 15th over all. A great result for myself and the team, tagging onto the back of the big names and teams from the British Championship on a bike which myself and Infront Motorcycles put together at our unit in Chester.
The name dropping moment of the TT goes to team chef/child care executive Ann. At the end of the Senior we packed the awnings away not wanting to have to do so during the forecast storms of Saturday. Dinner was looking to be a bit late as a result and the prize giving start time was looming so Jo and Ann headed down to the local Chinese. As Ann walked in Jo, waiting in the car, was shocked to hear Keith Flint, of Prodigy fame, say hello and call Ann by her first name. “Err, how do you know my mum?” Jo then asked. “Everyone on the grandstand knows your mum” came the reply. A conversation about the TT followed, on her return Ann needed some explanation of who ‘the bloke in the grandstand’ was!! I never thought my mother-in-law was so rock and roll!
All in all a good TT for me and the gang. Finally getting that 125mph lap was probably the stand out achievement of the fortnight for me. Alongside this was taking a great result in the Senior, coming close to some of the fastest teams/riders in the country in the process.
All that’s left is to give thanks to all of the supporters, which is something I’m terrible at by the way, stiff upper lip and all that! Infront Motorcycles, Kemtile, RLR Motorsport, Electrico, Dunlop, Ohlins, Maxton, Zero One race fx, HEL hoses, A&S Transport, Daniel Cross, Howard & John Tipping, Bob Beese, AM leathers, and many more besides that I’ve probably forgotten.
The trackside crew… Me (obviously the most important person in the equation!), Jo (for keeping everyone in order), James (for everything from financial input, owning the bikes, closing the shop for a fortnight to changing the wheel in the pitstop), Jack (for twirling the spanners, at all hours without complaint or errr payment), Ann (childcare executive, chef, energy drink mixer etc etc), Dad (pitlane re-fueller, even after seeing the consequences of it going bad!), Alasdair (born to be a trucker). Many, many others from Gary Thompson (clerk of the course) who does a fantastic job of keeping the riders informed and making some very tough calls, through to the marshals, giving their time to stick their neck on the line so the event can go ahead.
So is that my last TT? Many of my personal goals have been achieved, lots of money spent, risks taken and a young son who is now starting to understand what’s going on. I think the time maybe upon us.
Thanks for reading, next up Anglesey in mid-June, and another Oset trial in early July.
I’ll keep you informed.