Saturday, 30 May 2015

TT Day 1 - First Practice

Saturday morning on the Isle of Man... TT 2015, day 1. A good night's sleep an then up early to visit the Faeries.

A bit of breakfast then up to the grandstand to get new tyres for both bikes, Signing-on and Riders Briefing. The one wheel bearing on teh KMR wasn't as good as it should be so we sourced and new one on the way back to the garage.

Team Tyco truck... they got a few BMWs there

Milwaukee Yamaha setting up

Lee Johnson's cool ride

we spent a few hours at the garage changing teh wheel bearings on teh KMR and getting it prepped for the first laps of the 2015 TT campaign later in the evening.

Last year at the Classic TT, Kevan got selfies of the who's who of bike racing from teh past 40 years. In all the year's racing on the Isle of Man I have hardly any pics of the other riders. This year I want to get pics with as many riders as I can... we started yesterday...

Lee Johnson

Wayne Axon

Rider's Briefing and who should come sit next to me - Guy Martin

Italiano speed demon - Marco Pagani

Michal Dokoupil from Czech Republic

Getting my gear skrootineered

This year we have got some tyre support from Metzeler. We'll be using their dual compound Racetec RR with a special compound tailored for the TT Mountain Course.

Tyres, tyres, tyres...

...and this is just the Metzeler truck!

New rubber for the KMR and Triumph. We're trying a 180/55 on the KMR

In the afternoon we loaded the KMR and our paddock gear and headed back up the the paddock to get the KMR through skrootineering. In the skroot bay there were mutterings about our 'non-centered' race number... within the regs but the Chief skroot wasn't happy. This continued onto our lack of visible fuel tank overflow. The bike has done the NW200, TT and ManxGP without having any issue. I guess fuel tank overflow is the new Chief Skroot's little 'project' for 2015.

Getting the KMR through skrootineering

At the ManxGP, the skrootineering queue starts to form an hour before skroot opens... and quickly develops all the way down to the lower toilet block. we regularly queued for over an hour in year's past (especially the last 2 years). Yesterday there were hardly any queues. It was just Newcomers, Sidecars and Lightweight classes out last night... so I don;t expect that to last.

TT veteran Chris Petty. Chris has a remarkable 52 TT finishes to his name since 1986!

It was cold and overcast and the weather was moving in. We warm-up, get our gear on and up to the assembly area. Just a few minutes behind schedule and the session starts with the Newcomers speed-controlled lap. Soon after, we're warming up the bikes and getting ready for our first lap of 2015.

Up to the starter, his hand on my shoulder. I feel the tap and feed out onto the track and start feeding the wee bike gears down Glencrutchery road. First time through St. Ninians is always a bit apprehensive. Less than 10 seconds ago you were stationary... now you're doing 110mph just 2 feet from a hedge. You pull the bike left, over the traffic lights and jump off the camber chnage while banked over. It's special. Next time around and it'll be flat out at around 130mph.

The little KMR feels soft but stable. She feels as if she wants to run wide on the fast corner exits but she's light bike that changes direction easily. Just and extra pull and lean and she's back on trajectory. Brakes are good. The bars flapping about a bit over bigger bumps - I make a mental note to stiffen up the steering damper. I feel the 'pivot' sensation Warren was telling me about when he used a 160 rear tyre. It's like the bike is pivoting around the centre. Similar feeling I had from my Ducati 888 at last year's Classic TT. I take is steady.

View on lap 2 from #44 Bray Hill

By the time I reach the 5 mile marker, I'm back into it. The apprehension of the last few months disappears. It feels to comfortable, so natural to be flat out on the TT Mountain Course. I relish that feeling. For that first lap I keep my focus on where I'm going... as I come through onto the next lap, I shift my focus to things like lever position, body position. Is it right? How does it feel at 140mph? How much strain is my body taking? Where can we improve things?

The bike is pulling well. A very similar power delivery to my Ducati 888. Low to mid-range is a bit weedy... got to keep it revving. She spins up fast though. It's on that second lap when I feel the clutch slipping a few times. As advised, I had packed out the steel plates to give the pack an extra 0.6mm... but I think it needs a new clutch pack :-(

Through the Gosseneck - the wee bike is a lot easier to sling around than the old Aprilia or Ducati

Spots of rain bead of the screen around the Varandah... the road isn't wet so I keep on it. I don;t see another rider for almost the entire 2 laps until James Hillier comes past me at Hailwood's. I get behind him and go to school. He is so smooth. Beautiful arcing lines. Great corner speed. These are the things you can only see when following. The wee KMR has good poke and he only makes up time on me through the corners. I've lost him by the time we reach Hillberry... and raindrops are splattering on my visor and screen.

Coming out of Parliament Square

I try to get into Governor's Dip a little quicker than before. I miss the turn-in point and I'm so hard on the brakes I do a stoppie. As the back wheel comes down and I let go of the brake, the bike falls into the hairpin corner and I have to dab my foot down to stop falling over. Ooops! I remember doing the same thing on the last lap of the Classic TT last year. Note the self: "Don't try get into Governor's dip faster."

With crew Chief  Nic

I bring the bike back home as it starts to rain proper. Good job! First lap was 103.8mph average and the second was 106.6mph. Very happy with that. My best ever lap on my little Suzuki is 108mph - to get within 2mph on only my second lap on the KMR is pleasing. More to come :-)

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