‘There goes another 50p!’
Wednesday and Thursday were reasonably non-eventful days during practice week. Wednesday’s session ended up only being one lap on the superbike, not an especially good one either as the roads were a little damp in Ramsey and over the mountain. A red flag at the end of the lap brought a close to the session. Thursday’s session was delayed due to wet roads over the mountain. I’d had a poor stomach during Thursday, forcing me to break the ‘no number twos rule’ in the caravan toilet! I reckoned that the water wasn’t agreeing with me, so bottled water it is from now on then. I wasn’t feeling overly great for the session with several delays and then with reports that the mountain road was soaking we decided that there wouldn’t be anything to gain from going out for the 30 minutes that were left once it got underway. I got back to the caravan, shivered and shook myself to sleep, waking up feeling much better on Friday morning. I still wasn’t farting with confidence but survived on toast all day and generally improved until Friday night’s practice.
I concentrated on the superbike once again, getting three laps in. Some minor changes had improved rear grip. After stopping for fuel and more changes after two laps, I sat waiting to be let go onto the track in what appeared to be rush hour for race bikes for a little too long causing the engine to get a bit hot and bothered and chuck some water out. I pushed back to the Infront Motorcycles pit garage and we let it cool down. Getting back out for another lap I noted that the bike was running a bit hotter than normal so stopped after the lap (probably due to having lost a little water) and we called it a day, not wanting to do any damage for the race the next day.
James and Jack stayed up until late on Friday night working on the bike, which was great as it left me to get some rest ready for the race. Jo prepped all of the visors on Friday night. I’d bought a new helmet, as the dates on mine were running out, and 50 tear offs before we left home and mentioned to take it easy with the tear offs as they’d cost £25.
I had qualified in 23rd for Saturday’s superbike race setting off behind Jimmy Storrar. I felt like the first lap went well, hitting my planned lines etc I could see that I was catching Storrar. We both caught Ben Wylie in the second lap, I managed to pass on the brakes into Ballacraine and pulled more time back to follow Jimmy Storrar over the mountain as we came to the first pit stop. The stop went well, fuel, visor and wheel change. Somehow I came out behind Ben Wylie again though and passed him again at Ballacraine. Laps three and four went well as I pulled a tear off exiting the Gooseneck a spark flew in my mind saying “There goes another 50p”. I have no idea where these little snippets of randomness come from during a race but they do flash through my mind occasionally!
The pitstop at the end of lap four was a disaster, entering the pits in 14th place, and having beaten my personal best laptime in the first two laps to 125.3mph, things were going well. The fuel went in and the visor went on then I waited…… and waited. Clearly there were problems, apparently the centre spacer between the wheel bearings of the new wheel had dropped down so the spindle wouldn’t go through. While James wrestled with it Jo did her best to keep me calm. Apparently the Manx Radio TT commentator, Chris Kinley, mentioned how calm I was staying, he obviously wasn’t three feet away from me! Just use it as a test now Jo said. ‘I might as well ‘cos it’s f@£ked now@ was one of my many expletives.
James sorted the problem out and I was on my way, a two minute delay had pretty much ended my chances of any sort of result and to be honest left me not riding at my best for the two final laps. Catching Ben Wylie again I got peppered with stones for a bit and eventually got past. Finishing the race in 24th position I was disappointed, as we all were. The wheel issue was nobody’s fault just one of these things – we’ll make sure that it can’t happen again. I then found out that I’d broken the 125 mph barrier, something that I’ve been stuck in a rut trying to do for several years. Great news and some real positives are to be taken; checking my best sector times if I pieced them together then a low 126mph is on the cards. Not bad for a part-time racer on a bike that I only tested once before arriving here. A testament to the set up given from Ohlins and the engine work by RLR Motorsport.
A couple of laps practice followed on the supersport bike in the afternoon. I felt like I was riding the bike better but both laps had some hold ups with yellow flags and slower riders. My qualifying time still wasn’t up to scratch so I start 40th on on the supersport bike on Monday. I haven’t ridden the superstock bike since the first night so will be off the line 47th on that!
We worked until late on Saturday night getting the bikes ready so we could have a day off on Sunday. A trip down to the beach at Port Erin was a welcome break from the Groundhog Day that is paddock life. We took Ted up to the Oset stand in Nobles park where they have set up an obstacle course display and some have a go rides. While I stood talking to Simon from Oset, Ted decided that he would have a go at the seesaw obstacle on his electric trials bike! Crashing off the side, I ran round and picked him up. He said that he would have another go if I held onto his rear mudguard. I helped him over the first time and then he just went for it on his own. What was most amusing was that as the seesaw dropped down from its peak Ted appeared to open the throttle harder so he ended up pulling a little wheelie off the end! Great to see him enjoying himself!
I write this on Monday morning the weather has turned a little wet overnight causing the races for today to be delayed. Hopefully we will get a run out this afternoon and I’ll keep you informed.