Wednesday, 27 August 2014

IOM 2014 - Day 5 - Faster!

On Wednesday, we're up early to tackle the Duke's fuel leak. We try a few more things in the ally tank, but by 14h30, the leak is worse. Bad enough for me to not take the old girl out. Disappointing as we intended to get her out and get laps in on her before the other two bikes because her race is sooner (on Monday).

Getting the Aprilia through the top of Baregarrow

I cast my eye across the garage and onto the Aprilia. I think out loud "What does the Aprilia need for a practice session?". Kev and I quickly go through a list and get cracking on prepping her for a run around the TT Mountain Course. We had already prepped the Suzuki earlier in the day. We get them loaded later than we'd like and and up to the paddock for skrootineering.

Working on the Duke

One of the things we tried for the Duke fuel tank... new 'o' rings

More long waits in queues and very little sensible organization in pit-lane where we start for the first session.
They have changed the seeding for this year with two seeded groups. Bikes numbers 1 to 15 in group 1, and 16 to 40 in group two. This is good because being #21 in Supertwin (Suzuki) and #32 in Formula 1 (Ducati), I go out in the second group. I just missed being seeded on the Senior bike (Aprilia)  with #42.
Going out in a seeded group means you have a better chance of faster lap times with less traffic (people around you are running simmilar speeds) and no newcomers to get past. One of the most dangerous things for me on the course is getting past a Newcommer on a fast bike. They don't really know where they are going, the lines, the braking etc. and they wander on the course. This unpredicatbility makes them very difficult to get past... especially when they are being clever and blast past you in the straights. Dangerous.

Stafford Evans' immaculate Ducati 888. A beaut!

As a result of us getting up to the queues later than anticipated (trying to fix the Duke), it's a bit of a rush.We get showed to a place so far back in the non-seeded queue, we can't even reach a power point for teh tyre warmers. 10 minutes after we're parked up, the pit-lane 'organizers' start queueing bike 30 yards ahead of us. I'm not happy with this so we move the Aprilia forward to this new queue. We get some stick for this and there is tension in pit-lane but my days of being shoved to the back are over. The pitlane organization is very poor. Disappointing.

Pit-lane organization... poor.

The session start on time in glorious conditions. Because I'm in the non-seeded queue, it's a bit of a scrum to get down Glencrutchery Road and once on the course, there is a lot of traffic. I get past the slower riders safely but firmly. No prisoners are taken.

Just after Doran's, there is a rock embankment on the left of a tricky right-hander that tighten's up on you. One should miss the first apex, head for the rocks that are painted white and turn right very late to get the second apex and not run too wide for the next left-hander. A rider  got this wrong. Waved yellow flags, I slow right down and pick through the soil and debris on the track. Green flags at the next section and we're on our way again.

Wearing in a new set of sliders...

The big Aprilia is feeling good but still bottoming out under heavy braking despite the tweaks we made. The rear wheel is off the ground and swaying about far too much for my liking. Stiffer front springs are our next option.

More traffic on my next lap but I'm getting through it well and am smooth and flowing. The marshals are still clearing up the incident after Doran's so it's not a clear lap. Despite this, I my personal best ever lap of the TT Mountain Course: 112mph. Awesome!

Coming in on the Aprilia...

Going out on the Suzuki 10 minutes later

Kevan gets the Suzuki through skrootineering, on the warmers and warmed up by the time I get back to Parc Firme. I head off for a few laps on the wee bike. The difference in acceleration between the big Aprilia and the little Suzuki always make the Suzuki feel like there is something wrong with it. Within a mile or two I'm used to it and wring the wee bikes neck... everywhere. It's good fun... the changes we've made to the bike enable me to get some sections absolutely flat-out where I had to roll before. It's an awesome feeling when you get section right around here.

John McGuinness was having a bad day on his Classic 500 with reliability issues

On the second lap, there is a fair bit of traffic because we're out with the classic bikes. It's safe and far easier to pass the classics, they don;t have as much power and with experienced riders on-board, their lines are predictable and they know where they are going. We get a good second lap in. On both laps I set a new personal best for the little bike: 106 and 107mph. Well pleased with that!

Fast lap war-stories with Warren Verwey after setting personal bests

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