Back from the Manx GP
Hello again, we’ve been back from the Manx GP a while now and what a fortnight it was the weather was fantastic and we all had a really good time. We got to the Isle of Man on the Saturday morning and got set up in a really good spot, I then had to go through the usual signing on, rider briefing and technical briefing before preparing for 1st practice. I had the bike sorted and ready to go so there was nothing to do but wait, the weather was decent apart from fog on the mountain and I was a little apprehensive as we went up to the holding area as it was four years since I’d ridden here and I ended up in Nobles hospital with a broken wrist. The butterflies quickly disappeared as I set off down Glencrutchery road for the first time and I’d sort of forgotten what a great feeling it is to go flat out down Bray Hill, you just can’t get that anywhere else in the world.
I had a couple of good steady laps to feel my way back into it, the fog was terrible from the Black Hut to Kates Cottage and it reminded me of my first lap as a newcomer when the conditions were very similar with visibility down to just a few yards at times but I made it round unscathed to finish off what had been a hectic day. Sunday was spent at Mooragh Park Ramsey after we went to watch my mate Dibble’s kids race there bmx’s then Spencer had a go once the racing had finished and did about eight laps off the belt I don’t know where he gets the energy from but he loved it then we went to the water park to let Spencer & Carter play and get soaked but it was a nice day so they dried off pretty quick. We were greeted with rain on Monday morning but it was forecast to clear later so we got the bike ready to go and went through scrutineering, our friends Martin & Michelle arrived with the kids today just in time for practice so Martin came up to help out with Dibble, the rain had stopped but the roads were still wet when the first session went out and as I was going up to the holding area my mate Mike Minns was coming down and said it was really wet in places and he was calling it a night but I decided to go out and if it was bad I would only do one lap. I set off with my mate Tom Llewellyn to show him round and help out if I could as he was a newcomer to the circuit, the conditions weren’t too bad although there were some damp patches and the section through Glen Helen was wet but the rest was ok so I went straight through for another lap, things were going well until coming out of Ballaugh I was catching a couple of bikes and was right on them on the run to Quarry Bends, I passed the first one then set myself up to follow the second a newcomer through Quarry bends then all of a sudden he braked heavily, I was left with nowhere to go and crashed into the back of him, I thought I was off but I somehow managed to save it and stay on but had a severe case of brown undercrackers. I carried on and went for the brakes into Sulby bridge only for the lever to come right back to the bars, I got it slowed down and had a quick look and noticed the brake lever adjuster had been knocked onto number 5 in the collision so I nursed it through to Ramsey and pulled over in Parliament Square to move it back onto number1. I set off again and had a steady ride back to the paddock to tell everyone about my ordeal. I saw the lad who I hit when I got back and went to apologise as it was my fault and I probably gave him a heart attack but I was just pleased we both stayed on and there was no real damage done, on closer inspection the following morning we found the right hand disc damaged so we changed the pair and apart from that we got off pretty lightly. Tuesday was a lovely day and conditions were perfect apart from low sun on the run out to Ballacraine, another helper arrived today, ex speedway rider Robin Archer came with his son for the first time and what a week they picked, everything went really well and this was the first proper session for me to have a good crack at it and see where we were, both laps felt pretty good and I got a bit of a surprise when we went for the times to see I was 3rd fastest with a best of 107.4mph average speed which I was more than happy with, I’d also been up to my old tricks over Ballaugh Bridge and luckily someone got it on camera, it never feels as high as it looks but I love doing it.
The weather was good again on Wednesday and this time I got out fairly early to try and avoid some of the traffic I’d encountered the previous nights, I had a trouble free run and managed to get three good laps in quite comfortably and also try out the pit lane speed limit for the first time which was a bit strange, anyway the bike was spot on again and I ended up 2nd on the timesheets with a best of 108.8mph which was 15 seconds faster than the previous night so I was over the moon. Thursday was another perfect night and again I got three laps in to end up 4th knocking a further 3 seconds off with a best of 109.0mph although a couple of the others had made a big jump to 112mph but they were running tuned motors and I was happy with how the little bike was going considering that it’s only putting out 78bhp, I also had a near miss with some local wild life, as I was coming down to Hillberry I had to take avoiding action as there were four ducks waddling down the road and I only just missed them. Friday was a bit of a funny night, I got out and things were going good until I came up behind a classic MV Agusta at Ramsey, I followed him up onto the Mountain and couldn’t do anything with him as it was fast in a straight line but I was catching him in the corners and getting very frustrated in the process especially as he looked like he was ready to hit the eject button at any moment, it came to a head as I went up the inside approaching the Bungalow and showed my front wheel but he wasn’t going to back off and I thought “if you want to ride like that get on with it but I’m not joining you” so I backed off and had a steady ride back to the pits, I pulled in and a had a breather to compose myself as I was a bit annoyed at what had gone on, I had a drink then went up to go back out for another lap only for them to hold me too long and the bike boiled over so we took it back down to let it cool down. We still had plenty of time so we left it till a couple of minutes to go then went up again and this time got out, I used this just to make sure the overheating hadn’t caused any problems and the bike was fine so that was practice week over for us as the weather was bad on Saturday and I decided not to go out as there was no point.
We all went to Ramsey on Sunday to let the kids play on the BMX track then went on to Ginger Hall to grab a bite to eat and we bumped into Jamma with his mate on their head turning 1920’s BSA V Twins, It was a good laugh we even got some photo’s of me on the bike but it was just nice to get away and relax a bit.
It was race time on Monday and although I wasn’t out till Friday I had a practice session after the racing so we got through scrutineering then headed up to Creg Ny Baa to watch the Newcomers race, I was looking out for young Scott Campbell in the Newcomers B race and he was holding onto a safe 3rd and looking pretty good until he got a bit excited and hit a slower bike crashing at Sarah’s cottage on the last lap and unfortunately for him ruling himself out for the rest of the week but that let in my other mate Welsh Tom to get a well deserved podium which he was over the moon with. After the race we headed back down to the paddock and watched a couple of laps of the Senior classic from the grandstand before getting ready to go out for a couple of practice laps which went pretty well and I was now ready to race. Unfortunately Wednesday’s Junior race was a tragic affair as two racers lost their lives in the same crash and when this happens it always make you think whether it’s worth it but you have to put these thoughts to the back of your mind and carry on. My one lap practice was put back to Thursday after the rescheduled Junior Classic so I went out just to scrub some new rubber in for the race, Kyle, Grahamy and the kids arrived while I was out on my lap and I came in to lots of abuse about why I hadn’t picked them up from the ferry as they’d had to walk up a mountain blah blah blah. Eventually I got a phone call to tell me I’d been moved up from No 94 to 34 so I was pleased about that as I’d been on to them all week and I could now relax and focus on the race. Thursday night was spent cleaning and checking the bike so it was ready for the race and an earlyish night was had.
We woke on Friday morning to a bit mist and after putting the bike into the holding bay an hour delay was announced due to fog on the mountain but this was due to clear, Conditions were good as we lined up on Glencrutchery road and the tension was building, I was a little bit nervous but looking forward to getting started.
The 250’s went first and then it was our turn, I made a good start and headed for Bray hill flat out, by the time I’d reached Braddan Bridge I was settled in and already closing on the two bikes that started 10 seconds ahead of me, I caught and passed them on the run to Ballagarey so things were looking good. I just tried to keep it smooth and flowing and the bike felt really good, as I was coming out of Bishopscourt a bike passed me, it was Phil Mcgurk and he was obviously leading, I kept him in sight until we got on the mountain then he just disappeared as his bike was much faster than mine, I came across a couple of 250’s but managed to get past without any hold ups and at the end of lap one I was lying 3rd with an opening lap of 109.611mph. As I came out of Quarter Bridge on lap two I could see a bunch of riders in the distance so I got my head down and chased them, catching up little by little until I finally got onto the back of them over Ballacrye jump, I could see it was my mate Mike Minns, Ivan Lintin and Wayne Kirwan so I followed them through Quarry bends and got a good run out, as we got onto Sulby straight I pulled out of the slipstream of Mike but couldn’t get past so I pulled back in as he dropped in behind the others this gave me a massive treble draft and I managed to pass all three in one go, as I hit the brakes for Sulby Bridge I was giggling to myself as I thought I was going to have a nightmare getting past the trio, I carried on the rest of the lap and came in for my pit stop still in 3rd but only 1 second down on another mate Rab Davie due to a lap of 110.8mph which was 14 seconds better than my first lap and a massive 20 seconds better than anything I’d done in practice and I still don’t know where I made the time up.
Susan, Dibble and Martin did me proud with a faultless pit stop and I was soon on my way onto lap three, I had another good lap but as I was coming down the Mountain I could feel my fingers starting to tingle in my right hand, as I started lap four I’d dropped to 4th but was still pushing on. As a result of the numbness in my hand I was having to let go and just hold on with my thumb on all of the long fast stretches to try and get a bit of feeling back in my fingers but it didn’t last long so I was having to do it more often, I had a right ding dong with Ivan Lintin on the last lap, I passed him as he came out of the pits and he passed me back going into Kirk Michael, I got by on the run through to Ballaugh then he came past going into Ramsey, I followed him up onto the Mountain and got him just before Guthrie’s and it stayed that way until he came up the inside into Governors Bridge and I crossed the line just behind him but ahead on time. I was pleased it was over as I don’t think my hand would have lasted much longer and as I came up the return road they pulled me over to one side as they were unsure of who was 3rd but Joe Philips got it and I ended up 4th but I was happy enough with that, as I pulled back into the parc ferme Susan was there to greet me along with Dibbs and Martin and I just said I couldn’t have ridden any harder and everybody was happy, I think Susan was just relieved I was back safe and in one piece.
We walked back down to the caravan and I gave Spencer & Carter a big cuddle and kiss then I told everybody that this would be my last race on the TT course, my hand was aching and that 4th lap was just a bridge too far so it was time to call it a day, I’d done what I set out to do which was better Keith Taylors lap record and all my race laps apart from my pit lap were faster than I’d gone in practice and I was over the moon with a race average speed of 108.6mph considering the fastest lap last year was that. So that was it Manx GP 2010 was over and all we were left to do was pack up and go home.
I have to say a massive thank you to Kawasaki Newcastle and Jamma for giving me a fantastic bike that never missed a beat during the whole fortnight, Dibble, Martin and Robin for all their help, Susan for putting up with me and for all her support, Alex & Reece the best fly cleaners in the business Kenny,Mike and Peter for the Fibreglassing and last but not least all my sponsors for making this possible I could not do it without your support and I very much appreciate it, Thanks.
The only down side to the whole thing was we broke down on the way home at Tebay and had to be recovered by the AA but thanks to the Merlin boys they stopped and took my caravan home for me which saved a massive headache, well it wouldn’t have been right if nothing had gone wrong ha ha.