Saturday, 4 September 2010

ManxGP 2010 - Ultra Lightweight Race

Got a few hours shut-eye and up early to get the bikes to scrootineering by 08h00 an a cloudy but warm day. Both bikes sailed through... all shiny and clean for the races. Then spent an hour or two waiting around for mist to clear on the mountain and finally wheeled Suzy V up onto Glencrutchery Road for the start of the Ultra Lightweight race. I probably seemed a bit cranky, but was keeping focussed on the task ahead.

Suzy V and Candy were the first bikes through scrootineering - we were keen!

Joined the long line of machines right at the back... more than 8 minutes later I was staring down Glencrutchery Road, starter's hand on my shoulder. He taps my shoulder and I ease the clutch out to make a clean getaway. After having ridden Candy the afternoon before, she seems to move in slow-motion... revving her right up to her 10 grand max and knicking one gear after the next. Within seconds we were in top gear with the hedge on the approach to St Ninians crossroads whipping past at over 100mph, just a foot away from my right shoulder.

The Team - Ian, me and my Dad with 'Suzy V'

Dad not looking too happy in the Trolley Park

With warm tyres I keep her pinned all the way down but roll going though the dip so that she doesn't bottom out too much with a full fuel load. Ago's Leap, Quarterbridge, Braddan Bridge and charging flat-out on through Snugborough. Starting almost last there was going to be traffic coming my way - I caught the first bike through Union Mills. I had the hammer down. I dispatched another three in one go just after the super-fast flat-out left hander just before the Crosby pub. You got to keep it flat-out through there, the revs rising as you lean the bike over through the turn and the tyre circumference decreases... they all rolled.

I haven't found many race pics, so this is from practice - landing from the Ballaugh Bridge jump (I am finally getting this right) - thanks tmgreed for the pic

I was getting a wriggle on... smooth and fast. It was faster than I'd ever been. I had caught and passed a dozen riders by the time I was hurtling through the 120mph plus Alpine Cottage. I'm sure every one of us out there gave a "Rest In Peace" to Jamie Adams and Chris Bradshaw who tragically lost their lives on that turn in Wednesday's Junior race. The blur of the yellow paint markers showing how the incident unfolded was a grim reminder to be safe and steady... but I only saw them on the first lap... Jamie and Chris got a R.I.P. on every lap.

Another from practice in Parliament Square - thanks tmgreed for the pic

The traffic thinned as I gave Suzy V all she had as I cam e through for the second lap. This time I didn't roll at the bottom of Bray Hill. "Whump!" she bottoms-out at well over 120mph and my chest hits the top of the tank, helmet clouting the tank and steering damper... but it's all expected and the foam pads on the tank and damper do their job and absorb the impact. I crack on for another steady, fast lap. there was mist over the mountain, but visibility was still about 100 yards so it didn't slow things up too much.

Alistair Haworth and Peter Minns waiting in the scrootineering line- Pete is planning on following in brother Mike's footsteps and doing the Manx... he's just started racing this season and should be out there in 2012

Through Keppel Gate I brake a little too hard, too early... I lose my corner-speed, and in an attempt to regain some time I get on the gas before I hit the apex. Despite only having 75 horsepower, and being on shell-grip, with the tyre at max lean  it breaks free and I get a big slide on the go. Go fast, turn left... flattracking style! I have never slid on shell-grip before... I just took 300 miles of life out of that tyre. It doesn't phase me much... but enough to not want to try that again on the next lap!

End of lap 2 and into the pits for a refuel. Ian on the refueling, my Dad hand's me a carb gel, drink, cleaning rag and sprays my bug-shot visor, then gets to work on the smeared screen. Fuel for bike and rider, clean visor and screen and I head out for the second-half of the race.

Practice, Quarterbridge - thanks again tmgreed for the pic

A little easier through the bottom of Bray hill and Quarterbridge and then nail it all the way to Ballacraine. There is a stationary yellow flag on the approach to Glan Vine crossroads. I'm catching a 400 all the way up the hill  and roll off the throttle early. Then I see a lack of adhesion flag (yellow and red stripes). The guy on the 400 saw it a second or two before me and threw out the anchors. It's like he's in high-speed reverse... "Fuck!" I hit the brakes as hard as I dare and fight with the bars to try get Suzy to steer around this palloka. Foot comes off the peg alla Rossi style as the negative G-force pulls my body forward and I try balance the bike at the limit of adhesion.

I squeeze past his right side... in excess of 100mph. Jeeeeesus! It wasn't that close... it just gave me a fright... didn't expect him to come to almost a standstill at such a fast part of the circuit at the sight of a yellow and red flag. Someone's engine had let go through there and there was a long oil trail that had already been cement dusted through the centre of the turn. Note to self: "Keep it tight through there for the rest of the day"... "and watch out for nervous riders in reverse."

Practice, Ballacraine - thanks Dave Kneen (think I've posted it before... but I like it...)

I lose a lot of time through there but crack on. I don't see another rider until the end of the last lap. I love it like that... just you, the course and the snarling of a Vee Twin. It seems so open, empty... it eggs you to go faster... faster... faster. You pass the spectators so quickly and at such close quarters at most parts of the lap that they seem frozen. Just images to people pasted to boards behind hedges, walls and on embankments... all watching you.

On the final run through Kirk Michael, I ran her through the first turn just a little quicker then before... I over-compensated and messed up the line... hitting a big bump as I approached the apex. The back tyre kicks, the front loads and slides... "Chiiirrrrp!". I leave a front wheel darkie for what seems an eternity before the tyre grips again. No worries... all in control... now get that frikkin' throttle open!

The only race pic I've been able to find - thanks Dave Kneen 

I passed a lot of riders during those 4 laps. I'd see the white on green race numbers of some of them out the corner of my eye. The first few were in the hundreds... then we got into the nineties... eighties, seventies, sixties and when I caught John Batty #58 at the conquered flag I knew it was a good result. Catch and pass, catch and pass. I had gone quicker than ever on Suzy V... holding her flat-out through turns where I'd roll... even just a smidgen during practice. So rewarding when you get that right.

I'm really happy with my performance and so proud of little Suzy V... I rung her neck non-stop for 150.8 miles on the toughest circuit in the world and she never missed a beat. She took all the abuse in her stride. On that last lap I was feeling for her and just talking her home... "Common baby... you can do it... nearly there now... just one more trip over the mountain..."

Ian Hutchinson's TT winning Honda Fireblade. Hutchy was around and did a parade lap with wheelies and burn-outs. Not much on this bike looked like standard Fireblade bits

Only after the next race did I find out the result. I started 4th last on the road... and brought little Suzy V home in 17th place out of 79 starters (I think). There were 59 finishers. My race average was 102.1mph with a fastest lap of 103.9mph - good enough to earn my second ManxGP Replica. Whooooohooooo!



  1. get in there!.
    mega result m8, well done!!.

  2. Massive result Mate! Great Job!
    By the way Suzy V is really a beauty!!

  3. Cheers doods! Suzy V's fairing is a copy of the Harris WCM MotoGP. Slipery.