Thursday, 28 August 2014

IOM 2014 Day 6 - When in Doubt - Don't

Thursday morning we tackled the Ducati fuel leak again. We were getting pretty good at stripping the fuel tank out by then. We also looked into solving another problem we had - the Aprilia forks bottoming out and causing the rear to lift and sway all over the place under heavy braking.

Over the mountain in the morning things didn't look too promising

Dave Hagon of Evomoto in Ramsay is a K-Tech/Ohlins dealer and also super helpful. We were in luck, he happened to have a set of 10Nm K-Tech springs on the shelf. I loaded the Aprilia and headed across the mountain for Dave to fit the new springs.

With the fork-tops off, we found out that my forks are pretty old and have longer springs than the later, more common ones. But Dave is a top bloke and quickly machined up a custom set of spacers so we could fit the shorter new springs. My fork oil was also hanging - this is only after about 15 laps of the TT Mountain Course. I didn't want to change too much and didn't have time for a fork service, so Dave just topped up the oil by 5mm.

I got back to the garage and we prepped the Aprilia and Suzuki because there was no Formula 1 practice for the Ducati on Thursday evening, besides... we had a fuel leak that I wasn't happy with. Just before we load the bikes and head to the paddock, the heavens opened up. Great! I was really looking forward to testing the new springs and some other changes we had made to the Suzuki.

Norton Rotary ready for pratice

We waited the rainstorm out then loaded and got the bikes up the paddock and skrootineering. The roads dry pretty quickly on the Isle of Man, but with the heavy rainstorm and cool temperatures it would stay damp under the trees that cover much of the course. With 3 good practice days already behind us, the practice session was declared untimed and most riders elected not to go out.

We got both bike through skrootineering and ready to go. I was uncertain. The forecast for Friday and Saturday were good. Would I learn anything on the damp track? Would I be able to push hard enough and brake hard enough to test if the new springs were a step in the right direction? I had my doubts. I remembered something I'd say to myself in my helmet during first few years here while learning the course: "If in doubt - Don't". I elected to not go out.

More camera artistry from Kevan

We went up to pit-lane to retrieve the bike as the bikes were being warmed up for evening practice. The ground shakes with the sound of 50 classic bikes and Supertwins warming up. The tension, nervousness and excitement is real and felt so strongly in pit-lane and Parc-Firme just before the bikes go out. The smell, the sounds. Fantastic!

Mark Herbertson getting ready for a ride around

Because there were so few riders out there, Kevan had managed to get the little Suzuki positioned behind Bruce Anstey, Nick Jefferies and Lee Johnson... and in front of Michael and William Dunlop. "Damn!" I thought... "I might have learned something tonight". It was then that I had a strong urge to get my leathers on and not be a spectator. It was tough, but quelled that emotion and knew I had to stick with my gut feeling and decision not to go out.

Bruce Anstey with the MacIntosh Norton

Michael Dunlop

Nick Jefferies

William Dunlop

Michael Rutter

Most riders that went out only did 1 lap, the few that needed qualifying laps did 2. Reports back were that the conditions were poor all around the circuit. In the end I am glad I was a spectator :-) We loaded the bikes up, dropped them at the garage and headed to Jacks on the Promenade for a steak with Warren and his crew. After a good meal and some track banter, we tried something else to fix the Duke tank back at the garage. At 23h30 it we were knackered, my eyes sandy and the tank was still leaking... now worse than before...

Dinner at Jacks

Stripping the tank is like doing open-heart surgery

1 comment:

  1. Well done on your top 10 supertwin position. Marshalled at Kirk Michael wishing I was out there with you all. Fingers crossed for an entry next year. Cheers Stuart