Tuesday, 26 August 2014

IOM 2014 - Day 4 - All Qualified

Been absolutely flat-out with the bike for the last week so a bit behind in the posts. Yesterday was out first scheduled race, but it has been postponed till this afternoon because of poor weather - give us a chance to catch up a bit... roll-back to Tuesday last week...

Parc Firme and Glencrutchery Road

With my first laps under my belt on Monday and both the Aprilia and Suzuki prepped and ready to go, Tuesday wasn't too busy. Kevan and I had a look at the Ducati and started prepping it for the next session.
Because we had time, we decided to fix the minor fuel weep at the back of the tank where the fuel pump wires go in and the reserve warning float is. We stripped the tank out and tried a few things. We only made it worse. A job for tomorrow as we got the Aprilia and Suzuki up to the Paddock and scrootineering.

Kevan on the wee Suzuki

Massive queues again and a long wait. We got the Suzuki through and Kevan just got the Aprilia through by the time I was up in pit-lane and just about to head out for a few laps on Suzy V - the wee Suzuki.

Conditions were dry and sunny... but a bit cold and still quite windy. Not as bad as Monday night though. I head off down Glencrutchery Road and take it easy - I let the course come to me. By the time I'm up at Ballacraine I'm more comfortable and getting into it.

The 3 or so more bhp that Gary Smith found in the carbie are definitely there on the track. I'm doing 9800rpm down past the Highander. Sweet! Time for longer gearing :-) But the little bike is hard work. She' s flicking her head a bit and is a bit of a handful. I'm knackered by the time I get back from 2 laps. We need to make changes.

I take 10 minutes rest, have a drink and a banana and hop on big Betty. The first time I wind the Aprilia's throttle to the stop and hit 10 000rpm in every gear is always a bit of a shock to the system. I get forced backwards in the seat and hang onto the bars for dear life. Bray Hill seems so much faster on the big Vee Twin.

The Aprilia is a big bike and takes some muscling around. I feel like she's not turning in as well as I'd like and pushing the bars to steer through quarry bends and other fast corners is like having a gym work out.  But on the whole, she feels good... just where we were in the last practice before last year's cancelled race.

Home safely

On the second lap, I start running through some sections a little quicker than the lap before, get on the gas earlier and generally pick up the pace. She feels good, but is still bottoming out in the forks heavily and is very unstable under heavy braking, with the rear wheel in the air and swinging all over the place. Something to improve.

A good night's work with 4 laps under our belt - 2 on each bike now and we're all qualified. On the Suzuki I did 103 and 105mph - my fastest ever on the wee bike. On the Aprilia I did 107 and 110mph, just a few seconds off my personal best! :-)

Later that night we learned that Stephen McIlvenna lost his life on the Mountain Mile that evening. Stephen was a Newcomer the same year I was and went on to win the MGP Junior race in 2009. Very fast and experienced - he will be missed. Condolences to Stephen's friends and family.

Stephen McIlvenna - RIP

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