Tuesday, 30 August 2011

ManxGP 2011 - Day 10 - Last Practice

The Junior Classic (350cc old-timers) and Junior (up to 600cc modern machines) races are now run on Monday with a practice session after that - scheduled at 15h15. Tired or working on the bikes for a week... I took a break on Sunday and didn't even look at them. Figured I had time on Monday to prep Suzy V and do a gearing change. Candy is still in hospital.

Tootling through Parliament Square
At 09h00 I decide to check the road closures just to make sure I won't get caught out - the house I'm staying in is inside the course... and the garage on Bray Hill. Not accessible after the roads close. Road's close 09h30. I read it again. 09h30. Of course! They will run the 2 races and practice in succession. Doh! Eeeedeeeeyote!

I dash out the house grabbing all I need on the way. Back to the garage and pickup all I need from there. I get to the day paddock at 09h25. Phew! Of course, I forget something... the sprocket I need for the gearing change. But luckily I can get back to the garage by foot to retrieve it - I have the bike and all the heavy hardware in the paddock.

Paddock fettling
The Junior Classsic race gets away on time. My mate Mark Herbertson is starting No 8 on a 350cc Matchless owned and prepped by Alan Hermiston. I watch for him on Bray Hill, but there is no Mark between rider No 7 and 9. Afterwards I find out that on Saturday's practice he blew the engine up - they had some spares and spent till 03h00 Monday morning rebuilding it. It seemed ok, but when Mark got off the line wasn't running right so he pulled in immediately. Bummer.

Neil Vicars in the start queue 
As the Junior Classic race finishes, the rain comes down. It pours for about half an hour and the start of the Junior race is delayed. Eventually the Junior race is started on wet roads. Mike Minns got it sideways at the first corner (St Ninians) and pulled out of the race immediately. About 12 riders pulled out the race after one lap. the conditions improved and by the last lap it was mostly dry but still a lot of damp and puddles. Not fun.

There was a lot of wheel changing going on before the race
My mate Neil Vicars was having a steady run until Braddan Bridge on the third lap where he lost the front and lowsided into the tree in the middle of the roundabout. Luckily he got away with just bumps and bruises and the bike isn't too bad - hope he can get it fixed for Friday's Senior race. Mike Moulai, the 'Flying Kiwi', had a storming race, riding a 4 cylinder bike for the first time he came home in 14th. Mike normally rides a Ducati 999, but it gave him problems early on in practice week so he parked it up and focused on the 600.

Neil's pitstop
Eventually, the practice session gets away at 16h00 on damp roads. My plan was just to test the gearing - if I was having fun and learning, I'd do two laps, if not, just one. The conditions weren't great, so I cautiously do one lap... only giving it beans on the run past the Highlander, Sulby straight and the run down to Brandish - to test the gearing.

Suzy V's race prep starts
I've gone 2 teeth longer on the back sprocket. My speed through the trap was almost identical to my run on Saturday. The wee gurl just doesn't have the power to pull a longer gearing. I'm stuck at 141mph. Back in the paddock at one of the race shops, I manage to find a compromise sprocket between the two - I'm gonna take a chance and run it in the race.

I get Suzy V back to the garage and begin to strip 'n clean. Race prep begins...

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