IOMTT: Monday’s Superbike race

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It wouldn’t be TT 2019 if we didn’t have a twenty-minute delay due to a non-racing medical emergency and awkward spectators would it?

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It was the Superbike race up first. This was scheduled to run on Saturday along with the Sidecar Race 1, however, as we are all aware, the weather didn’t exactly play ball last week. Due to this, the Clerk of the Course shortened the Superbike race from six laps to four. Many people will say ‘it’s not a proper Superbike race unless it’s over six laps’… I completely agree, but considering on the Sunday there were question marks over whether we would see any racing at all, I’ll take the four-laps thanks! Of course, as if we weren’t already short on time, we had a twenty-minute delay. A non-racing medical emergency, which of course can’t be helped, but what can be helped is spectators not being bloody awkward! I know a marshal who managed to survive the ‘axe-murderer of Laurel Bank’ a couple of days ago (you think I’m joking, I’m not…) and now they’re having to deal with more spectator-led issues. It really isn’t on. Can you all just behave yourselves and watch the racing like civilised humans rather than pack animals?!

Anyway, the race finally got underway at 11:05 with weather conditions reported as good all around the Mountain Course with the exception of possibly the mountain itself where winds were gusting up to 25-30mph. Head, tail, cross-winds – none of which make for pleasant racing up top, but I suppose that’s why we have ‘Windy Corner’. It didn’t seem to dissuade any of the racers as they all seemed to get off to a cracking start. Harrison led at Glen Helen on the opening lap, one of the fan favourites, and Hickman slotted into second just 1.1s back. As the Isle of Man TT is a time trial, it’s hard to imagine what 1.1s looks like around here. It’s something you never see. I still find it hard to comprehend that if number 10 catches up number 9 on the road, number 10 is 10-seconds faster than number 9 already even though it doesn’t appear that way as they flash by you.  I know a lot of people may be used to the Irish road races where they’re set off in waves, but essentially the majority set off together. Not here. Each racer gets the tap on the shoulder every 10-seconds, therefore it can be quite difficult to distinguish correct positions until the quickest person has gone through the timing beams. This is a major pain in the bum with Hickman being #10…

James Hillier slotted into third at Glen Helen whilst Conor Cummins placed fourth only a tenth of a second behind Hillier. Okay, a tenth of a second could cost you a place on the podium if you’re at the end of a race, but it’s such a minute difference on lap 1! The two Michaels, Dunlop and Rutter, rounded out the top six. John McGuinness, Lee Johnston and Ian Hutchinson didn’t get off to a great start as they placed in 14th, 15th and 16th respectively, but the excitement was building at the front as Harrison was still fending off Hickman whilst Cummins moved up to third ahead of Hillier at Ballaugh. I think the Ballaugh to Ramsey section is one of the most technical parts of the course. After Ballaugh bridge you have to negotiate Ballacrye jump, the S bends by the wildlife park (Quarry Bends as it’s commonly known) and before you know it the throttle is pinned down (up? Manx for you..!) Sulby straight. Next, you’re braking hard to get yourself round the right-hander that is Sulby bridge and throwing it back over to the left to power on round past Ginger Hall. By the way, the Ginger Hall does amazing food and the TT course is on the ceiling in the bar section, so when you’ve finally had too much to drink you can have a rest and make your own TT race up in your head. Happy days! From the Ginger Hall you’re onto the bumpy, bendy bits. However, I presume, or you would hope, the suspension on these superbikes might help them to glide over the bumps a little bit better than your usual road bike especially at those kinds of speeds. It’s a bit of a blur round there!

… and then you see the ‘Welcome to Ramsey’ sign, through Milntown, past Ramsey Grammar School and brake brake brake throw it right for Parliament Square, throw it left and you’re on the way to the Hairpin. Harrison led by 1.4s, Cummins was only 3.8s back on Hickman, but around 8s clear of Hillier. They were starting the Mountain climb, round the gooseneck and off to battle those winds. A lot of riders compare the Mountain section to short-circuit racing which I understand, but you could so easily get lost as to which corner you’re at, what’s coming up next, etc. There’s even some tramlines to contend with and they’re not the best of things to deal with on open roads let alone on a superbike. Round windy corner, which I believe was very windy, and you’re heading for Kate’s cottage and then the pub – the Creg-ny-Baa. Great food too! From there, although I know some have run out of fuel between the Creg and the Grandstand, is pretty much the home straight with a few bends, dips and kinks. The end is very quickly in sight… the speeds they come round Hillberry probably helps with the ‘quick’ bit!

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Harrion’s opening lap of 132.48mph gave him a slight lead over Hickman who remained second. Cummins retained third, but Hickman had pulled the pin and the gap to second was now 4.8s. The top three were the only three riders to lap at over 130mph. At the end of lap 1 McGuinness pulled into the pits and got off his Norton Superbike. He was forced to retire due to an oil pressure issue. Derek McGee was also a retirement. The rest of them were starting lap 2 and Harrison had made his way to Glen Helen before anyone had time to blink. There was, however, no change with Hickman still second and Cummins third, Hillier fourth. The only change near the front was Rutter had moved up to fifth pushing Dunlop down to sixth. Harrison put the hammer down between Glen Helen and Ballaugh to increase his lead to 4.8s, but Hickman retaliated over the Mountain to reduce that gap to 0.045s and Cummins re-gained the lead on the road ahead of Harrison. It was all still to play for as at the end of lap two it was time for a pit-stop.

At the end of lap two Hickman had finally overhauled Harrison and now had a 1.7s lead. Cummins remained in third whilst Hillier broke the 130mph barrier to continue in fourth with a comfortable 13s lead ahead of Rutter, Dunlop just behind in sixth. Jamie Coward was having a phenomenal race up into seventh with David Johnson, Gary Johnson and Davey Todd completing the top ten at the end of lap two. Hickman still led, but Harrison was eking back the lead slowly as the gap at Glen Helen had dropped to 0.69s. Both Harrison and Cummins had almost made their way to Ballaugh before pulling in due to a full-course red flag.

The race was declared a result as at the end of a lap two meaning Hickman won the 2019 Superbike TT race on-board the Trooper BMW, Harrison took second and Cummins third. Hillier finished fourth ahead of Rutter and Dunlop with David Johnson, Jamie Coward, Gary Johnson and Davey Todd rounding out the top ten. 

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A red flag in any race makes you a bit nervy, but a red flag during a road race makes your heart sink. Manx radio had stated there had been an incident at Snugborough, between Braddan Bridge and Union Mills, but there were no further updates at that time. When there’s been a red flag, I don’t think you can really concentrate on what’s to come until there’s been an update, but you’ve got to remember these are the TT races and the races must go on. You have to try and think ‘no news is good news’, but in reality, you know that never really appears to be the case. It really does seem heartless when it’s written down, but hand on heart no racer who has lost their life at the TT or any other race for that matter would want any races to be postponed or cancelled. It’s a difficult concept to understand, but we go again…  It’s a sign of respect, it’s a show of solidarity. My heart goes out to the organisers during red flag situations particularly the marshals involved. We know when we sign-on to marshal we could be faced with an incident, but until that time you don’t really know how you will react. The race officials in the control tower not only have to deal with the incident at hand remotely but the media and the speculation too. On top of that they also have to stay one step ahead and figure out the remaining day’s schedule too. Although the Superbike race was declared a result, the sidecars were still scheduled to race and that’s exactly what they did. More about that later.

Just after the sidecar race finished, although not through the official channels, there was the news no one wanted to hear.

Daley Mathison’s wife tweeted that her husband had lost his life.

Shortly after the ACU issued an official statement confirming that Daley Mathison had been involved in the incident at Snugborough which occurred on the 3rd lap of the Superbike race and had sadly died.

The statement read as follows:

ACU Events Ltd regrets to confirm that Daley Mathison, 27, from Stockton on Tees, Durham was killed in an incident during the Superbike Race today at the Isle of Man TT Races.  The accident occurred at Snugborough, just over 2 miles into the Course, on the 3rd lap of the race.

Daley was an experienced competitor and was seeded 19th for today’s race.  He made his Mountain Course debut in the 2013 Manx Grand Prix Newcomers A Race, finishing fifth.  His TT career included three consecutive podiums in the TT Zero electric bike Race in 2016, 2017 and 2018 including the runner up position in the race last year, representing Nottingham University.

He also achieved an 11th place finish in last year’s Superstock Race and a pair of 13th place finishes in the 2017 and 2018 Senior TT Races.

He set his fastest lap of the Mountain Course – 128.054mph – in the 2018 Superstock race which made him the 34th fastest rider of all time. He set the second fastest TT Zero lap ever with lap of 119.294mph in the 2018 race.

In total he started 19 TT Races with 14 finishes and 3 podiums and won 6 silver and 8 bronze replicas

ACU Events Ltd wishes to pass on their deepest sympathy to Daley’s wife Natalie, his family and friends.

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Unfortunately with the likes of social media something like this isn’t kept quiet anymore and usually it is published on every site before official confirmation. However, this time, maybe for the first time in years I saw no speculation. Maybe I was fortunate enough not to see it, or maybe it wasn’t there to see. Those of us who know this sport, who respect this sport know that nothing good ever comes of speculation. It’s heartbreaking that families and teams don’t get the privacy they need to process what has happened first before it is publicly announced. However, Daley’s wife, Natalie, has dealt with the the social media aspect so admirably. No one knows how they will react until it happens to them. My thoughts are with Daley’s family, team and friends at this sad time.

I really struggled to write this. It’s hard to convey any kind of excitement about the first two-laps of a race when you know the outcome of lap 3. We all know the risks of the sport and I’ve never been one to shy away from the negatives because it is, unfortunately, part of road racing. However, we often criticise certain news outlets for only focusing on the dark side of this sport and I for one will not follow suit. The racers that went out afterwards in practice and those who went on to race in the Supersport race in the evening showed so much courage to get back out and race around this 37.73 mile course. They went back out to continue to live the dream for those who no longer can’t. They get back on two-wheels and race down Bray Hill because it’s their therapy, their happy place and they deserve their moment too. Please don’t try and tell us our sport should be no more, that we should suppress such natural born talent on a motorcycle because some people who aren’t even involved in this sport are worried about the consequences. We will always treasure the moments we had with those who are no longer here to live their dream and we will ensure their dream and their life lives on through racing.

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Words by Samantha Wanless

‘Twas the night before the 2019 IOMTT

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There are less than 24-hours until the 2019 Isle of Man TT begins and the excitement levels are building.

Usually, the Grandstand is a barren, mushy-looking field with some concrete patches. The flags and banners are nowhere to be seen and the Grandstand just becomes that normal building you drive past. Pit lane is forgotten, the timing boards bare. Doesn’t sound like that usual Grandstand everyone knows and loves, right? It takes months of back-office preparation to ensure the logistics of the two weeks are finely tuned. It takes weeks to paint the black and white curb stones on corners of the public roads, erect the air fences around specific parts of the course and to tie hay bales around gate posts and the like, but it’s almost time.

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I get a little giddy when it’s time for the North West 200. A) The racing is absolutely amazing there, who doesn’t love road racing? B) When it finishes the majority of the larger teams ship themselves straight over that evening or the next day to the Isle of Man and overnight the Grandstand becomes the place to be. It might not be that magical first practice session we’re all eagerly awaiting, but it’s certainly the start of what’s to come. The flags reappear on the top of the Grandstand, banners are pinned to the recticels with Monster Energy and Bennetts lining the lampposts. Then, the race trucks pitch up in all their glory putting our little Manx puddle-jumpers to shame. Huge motorhomes roll off the Ben-My-Chree, vans filled with race bikes, spanners and beer. They all start to appear and suddenly that barren, mushy-looking field becomes one of the best paddocks you could wish for – a road racing paddock.

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The Grandstand with all it’s flags ready to race.

A road racing paddock is one of the friendliest places you could ever walk into. I’ve never been able to put my finger on why this is, but I strongly believe it’s because the road racing community are a family. We all know how dangerous road racing can be, we all know someone who’s been bitten by the Mountain course or worse. Yet year on year the same racers, teams & spectators come back because it’s what they do, it’s what they love, it’s in their blood. Road racing is a bug.

Teams help fellow teams, riders help fellow riders… yet when the visor comes down as they await the tap on their shoulder to fly down Bray Hill they become rivals who are all competing for the same reason – that top step and a prestigious TT victory.

The 2019 Isle of Man TT begins tomorrow. Curb stones line the way, stone walls, lampposts, electricity boxes, pavements, trees and bridges not to mention roundabouts, tram lines and hairpins to contend with as well as the ever-changing weather. There are arguably 216 corners to negotiate around the 37.73 mile course which is primarily a public road for 365 days a year. You know the drill, it’s time to go road racing!

Below is the qualifying schedule, but it is subject to change as we all know due to weather and other circumstances beyond anyone’s control. It’s currently raining on the island, which is just bloody typical, but here’s hoping the weather forecast for tomorrow is wrong else we won’t be seeing anything…!

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As always, it’s the newcomers’ speed controlled lap – first the solo’s, then the sidecars. No, that doesn’t mean they’re confined to 50mph the entire way, more in the 100mph+ figures. This is usually led by either a current or former TT racer. Richard ‘Milky’ Quayle often slides back into his leathers to lead a pack, possibly Steve Plater and rounded off by a Travelling Marshal. It must be such a daunting lap. Imagine spending months watching on-board laps, driving around the course seven-million-times, processing all the corner information, remembering where drain covers are, braking markers, riding the course in your head 24/7 and then on top of all that racing round other tracks to ensure you have enough signatures for your Mountain Course Licence. Information overload. That first-ever closed road lap must be mind-boggling; they are literally living the dream. I find it’s great for those who marshal to have a speed controlled lap first too just so you can keep that spare pair of underwear for a couple of hours longer… I’m pretty sure the newcomers will need a new set before they reach Ballacraine mind.

Following the speed controlled lap, we are given the chance to allow our eyes to adjust to the phenomenal speeds of the Superbikes as they’re kept confined to their tents until Monday. The Lightweight and Supersport machines are allowed out of the blocks first as well as the Newcomers on any machinery. Superbike or supersport, it still doesn’t prepare you for the bull that is Michael Dunlop to fly down Barregarrow and scare the shit out of you. Every year I am left speechless. I watch in awe not quite believing what I’m actually seeing. I believe that usually no times during the first practice count towards qualifying times. Let’s not forget that most of the racers may not have raced here since the 2018 TT… The road can change quite significantly during that time too – the camber, new surfaces, new tree roots unsettling the road. It’s vital to allow a brief bit of time to re-adjust to the differences, tinker with the bike’s initial settings and refresh your mind of the Mountain Course. The first night of practice is exhilarating. You swear multiple times, you take a few steps back, but most importantly it hooks you all over again. It reminds you that although it looks superhuman what these racers are doing… they really are human, just a little bonkers with a shit-load of talent, so make sure you find yourself a hedge to watch from!

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When the roads are open you should definitely head down to the Grandstand. It’s completely free for you to walk around. Take it alllllllllll in because it’s the closest you could ever get to the pre-race action. You’ll get to see inside the top team’s tents – race bikes being worked on by the mechanics, you might even get chance to speak with a racer. Also, please make sure you visit the privateer teams. They may only have small pitches, but they’ve put their heart and soul into getting themselves race ready for the TT and I tell you what, it isn’t easy!! It takes a lot of time, effort and money. They deserve as much attention as the front runners because remember, everyone has to start somewhere! You get to see every type of set-up, but you can’t beat the famous race bike in the back of a van set-up. The road racing paddock isn’t shut off like MotoGP, racers don’t tend to hide away and everyone is welcomed into this crazy little community. You’ll see kiddies racing round on balance bikes, big kids racing round on Honda Grom’s. It’s just an amazing place to be, it buzzes with the sound of bikes. They’ll be race bikes on the dyno, families frantically cleaning leathers and polishing their outfits. It’s a family affair. 

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There are also lots of other different things to see and, although it can get a bit crowded, there’s no better place to be. There’s a beer tent (because everyone loves beer, I think there’s even two now), an ice-cream van (because it’s always hot on this island…), hot and cold food and so much more. To get you closer to the action you will also find companies like Dunlop Tyres behind the grandstand with tyres labelled with racers names as well as the Arai shop who provide helmet servicing, visors and much more to both the racers and the public. There are clothing stores: RST, Red Torpedo and official Isle of Man TT merchandise. You can find anything from helmets to boots, leathers to hoodies. You name it, it’ll probably be behind the Grandstand! It all gets a little crazy before practice and insanely crazy before race days, but the atmsophere is electric and if you’ve never been to the Grandstand on a race day you are most definitely missing out.

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I can’t even begin to imagine how exhausting yet exhilarating it must be having the throttle pinned for 37.73 miles, arguably 216 corners for approx. 18 mins… and then doing that SIX times with a lap average of 135mph on two wheels, but we’re about to find out once again.

It’s almost time to take on the Mountain Course, we’re all geared up ready to go. 

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Words by Samantha Wanless


 

As a side note, local company SMP Group Ltd also has a fabulous competition where you could win two VIP Hospitality tickets for SENIOR RACE DAY! Head over to their Facebook page for more information, and don’t forget to take your picture with SMP Group’s TT Wallaby ‘Joey’ to be in with a chance of winning.

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‘Joey’ the TT Wallaby sponsored by SMP Group Ltd

 

 

 

 

 

 

Becoming an IOMTT Marshal

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If you’ve ever been to watch the Isle of Man TT races, Southern 100, Manx Grand Prix or Classic TT you’ve probably seen groups of people standing around before roads close looking like this:

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…Guy Martin bobble hat optional!

…also known as the orange army aka TT Course Marshals.

Before any racing can take place on the famous TT Mountain Course, there is a Marshal threshold which must be met. The TT Course spans 37.73 miles with over 200 corners lined with trees, Manx stone walls, curbs, and other furniture. As mega as Gary Thompson (Clerk of the Course) is, he can’t survey every little nook and hairpin from the control tower on Glencrutchery Road. If he can see Kirk Michael from there, he’s definitely got superpowers. This isn’t short-circuit racing. There is no safety car deployed to bring racers down to a steady speed when an incident occurs, there is no run-off area. It’s down to the Marshals. It isn’t for the faint-hearted, but I’m sure you all know that already.

This is road racing and it’s road racing on a massive scale.

More than 530 Marshals are required for the Isle of Man TT Races to commence. 530 volunteers is a phenomenal number and it’s common knowledge that every year race officials struggle to meet the minimum number of Marshals required. There are often pleas on Manx Radio for more people to sign-on. I have been watching the TT Races since I was probably around five or six. Obviously you can’t become a Marshal at that age… try 16+. Road racing was something I was brought up around and our holidays were never to Spain or Europe, it was always to the Isle of Man for TT and Manx Grand Prix. A few years ago there weren’t enough Marshals to allow a race to take place, so I decided it was time to sign-on. There was no point me being sat in a hedge watching the racing when I could be stood as a Marshal doing exactly that – watching racing. For me, it was a no-brainer. I signed-on, collected my Marshals pack and headed to my post. Laurel Bank. Definitely not an ideal spot for your very first time, but we’ve all got to start somewhere. I’m not going to pretend it’s all unicorns and sparkles. It’s not. Things happen. Racers are literally brushing the Manx stone walls with their leathers as they come through the sweeping corners of Laurel Bank and you’re stood on that very corner. I would be lying if I said I wasn’t apprehensive. Of course I was. I’d heard numerous incidents at Laurel Bank, I’d even seen them. However, I knew there were very experienced Marshals around me who had dealt with said incidents in the past at that very location. You’re on edge 90% of the time, but that definitely decreases with the more sessions you do.

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Bottom of Barregarrow

The spot I usually Marshal at now is the bottom of Barregarrow… once again, I know how to pick ‘em! I usually only Marshal for practice week as I can’t guarantee I can book time off work. People think it’s amazing if you live on the Isle of Man, you get to watch the races, blah, blah. Nope, not if you have to work! Anyway, you’ll find that over time the same people gravitate back towards their favourite spot and year upon year they’ll re-appear as if they’ve never been away. You can’t guarantee you won’t bump into a nosher or two who likes to think they’re John McGuinness’ best mate, but usually Marshals are a great bunch of people to be around. They’re usually petrol heads and that’s good enough for me! Camaraderie quickly develops and you become best friends with your fellow Marshals for those two special weeks. You bond over the whistling kettle on the camping stove and fight over biscuits and cakes. What’s not to love? You are there for a special reason though and I feel that camaraderie is definitely required for what could be just around the corner. I’ve seen tank slappers, curb riding and dodgy lines even sidecar drivers racing without a passenger. I’ve seen enough to last me a lifetime, but I’ll know in two weeks’ time I’ll probably see it all again. Let’s face it, it’s everything you would see sat in a hedge anyway! This is racing after all.

That’s my little intro to how I became involved in Marshalling and my thoughts. I’m very proud to be a TT Course Marshal and it’s now something I sign-up to do every year. It genuinely makes you feel like you are actually part of the TT because without you there would be no racing. You’re part of a team and, despite the seriousness, you get to have a really good laugh with mental petrol heads like yourself.

Do you think you have what it takes to become a Marshal? If you think you do, read on. If you’re not sure, well, I’ll try to help you decide.

 

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A course red-flag can only be actioned by the CoC

 

Firstly, there is no guarantee an incident won’t occur and this is worst case scenario for every Marshal. It’s best to go into something like Marshalling with your eyes open, but I’m guessing if you’re a road racing fan you’re already aware of all the risks involved. So, yes. You may have to deal with an incident. Secondly, you are Race Direction’s eyes and ears, but most importantly you are the only point of contact a racer has to warn them of what lies ahead. The third point is probably one of the most important ones to remember. It’s down to your team of Marshals to sensibly and suitably alert a rider of an incident, for example, that might be ahead. Stationary yellows may suffice or you may need to display waived yellows, but don’t jump around in the middle of the road like a muppet.

Sadly, over the last year or so, fingers have been pointed at Marshal’s regarding various incidents that have occurred. Why do people feel the need to slate people who volunteer to help this sport? Probably because it’s the easiest answer. Unfortunately, incidents happen. That’s racing. Don’t go blaming marshals. Don’t go blaming the rider. Don’t go blaming control or the CoC. Gary Thompson, Clerk of the Course, is one of the best. He’s experienced, his knowledge is impeccable and he’s got the weight of the world on his shoulders. Since he has been CoC things have run smoother than ever. Marshals are no longer subjected to long delays, they’re kept up-to-date and are now well informed. Quick decisions are made about delays as well as whether racing is to be abandoned due to bad weather or similar and updates sometimes even included ‘we’re just rounding up some sheep on the Mountain. 20 minute delay.’ Definitive and concise decisions are made and by no means are they easy decisions. As a Marshal I’m very thankful to have Gary on our side, so please don’t be put off by those who feel the need to point fingers.

Quite honestly Marshals don’t get the credit they deserve. Yeah, okay, you get some who sign on just to watch in the best spots because it’s true… there ain’t no better view at the Bottom of Barregarrow than where us marshals stand. But there is a job to be done. An important one. The reason you are on the island, the reason you are watching is because you’re watching the greatest road race in the world. Without people doing this ‘job’, you ain’t watching it! You get some who take the p… and those are the ones which tar every other marshal with the same brush. Don’t write on social media how shit marshals are at such a point because I can guarantee you there will be at least two marshals at that post which are ready, reading every race number even to the point of seeing the plate colour in practice. It’s the small details. They’ll be watching and they’ll be ready regardless of who else is around them. Everyone is given a job from rider to bike, debris to airmed guide… and every marshal just hopes they don’t have to do their job.

My heart goes out to any marshal who has had to endure an incident and deal with the aftermath. I know it’s what we all sign-on for, we are prepped as best we can be, we are equipped with the best equipment and guidance from race control, but in that moment, that fraction of a second none of that would matter. Until your brain goes into overdrive and you’re subconsciously violently waving a yellow flag in a figure-of-eight just hoping other riders see you in time. For those who had to deal with any incidents, I commend you. You are brave and please just know that you all did whatever you could because that’s what we do. Don’t question yourself for a second. Remember, if you do have to deal with an incident there is help and support available afterward. You will always be able to talk to your DSM, CSM or any other Marshal.

It’s pretty daunting reading the above, but you really need to understand that every single Marshal who signs up has a responsibility to the riders who are racing. You are not just a number. As a Marshal you may be required to stand in what would usually be restricted areas to members of the public. This means you can experience spectacular views of the racing (and of the Isle of Man) from points you would not be able to if you weren’t signed on to Marshal. Yes, it’s fantastic, BUT I can guarantee when Michael Dunlop flies down the bottom of Barregarrow flat out on a Superbike first the first time that year a change of underwear is 100% required… You’ll begin to understand why these areas are restricted. *best add underwear to the essentials list*

Before I forget, here is my essentials list:

  • Warrant card and photographic ID
  • Race Guide (for numbers, plates and names)
  • Bug/Midgie Spray
  • Midgie net for your head (trust me, you’ll thank me later!)
  • Thermals
  • Boots, proper boots
  • Waterproof jacket (and make sure it’s warm!)
  • Hat (sun and woolly)
  • Sandwiches, biscuits, cake, just food in general
  • Flask of coffee, tea, water
  • Spare pair of underwear *very important*

Interested yet? You should be! If you would like to sign on for TT 2019, you can do so here. If you can’t sign-on online, you can go to the Marshal’s hut behind the back of the Grandstand and sign-on there instead. It’s all very quick and simple!

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The Mountain Road on a beautifully clear day… that makes a change!

If you have never Marshalled before, that’s perfectly fine and you are definitely more than welcome to join the Orange Army! In fact, we need you! The more the merrier! Look at that view! You can Marshal for practice sessions, races or both. You can Marshal for one session or all of them. It is entirely down to you. If you are a new TT Marshal and are concerned you know nothing about what you need to do, don’t worry! Regardless of whether you have previous Marshalling experience at other motorsport events, you will be placed with experienced Marshals. There is now also a new learning platform for all Marshals who register for TT 2019. It is a mandatory requirement for all Marshals and must be completed before they turn up to their designated sector, myself included. It’s not scary or worrying. It’s a great little tool to help you learn the basics of what you need to know stood at the side of a closed road ready to watch a motorbike or sidecar skim the hedges at 200mph. I’ve actually found the learning platform very valuable because the last time I touched a Tetra radio or flags was nine months ago and we all know what can happen in nine months… Anyway, get it done!! It’s a very useful resource, but just be careful of the maps – I found them deceiving and I live on the island!

If you are wanting to Marshal it is a necessity to ‘sign-on’. Once you are signed on and you have collected your pack which includes your warrant card, discounts, and some other little goodies. You will also receive e-mails about attending the Marshal’s supper and other various events which are restricted to Marshal’s only. Previously there have been evenings with John McGuinness and various other racers which you can attend free of charge, but they change from year-to-year. I guess it’s how the racers can give a little back, think of it as a pat on the back! Once you have received your warrant card you have legal permission to Marshal. This also means you are covered by ACU insurance travelling to/from your Marshalling points as well as during your duties. The powers of a Marshal during closed roads used to be that of a Special Constable, now I believe the powers are ‘similar.’ However, you must always carry your warrant card as well as photographic ID to be insured, have the power, etc. otherwise you may be told you cannot Marshal. This is an ACU rule.

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Equipment all laid out ‘in case of emergency’

Be warned – practice sessions and race days can be long and tiring! You must arrive at least 30 minutes before roads close for a briefing with the DSM (Deputy Sector Marshal) or CSM (Cheif Sector Marshal) to allow jobs to be allocated. I would actually recommend arriving at your position approx. 1 hour beforehand because you may have to carry equipment such as the stretcher, fire extinguishers, medical box, etc. out of the locked containers and into position. The job you are given will depend solely on your experience, training and also preference. Examples are flags, radio comms, rider and bike. It’s never great to be designated ‘rider’ or ‘bike’, but it has to be done in case an incident happens. The role as a Marshal doesn’t stop there, however. You are responsible for ensuring your portion of the road is closed to traffic e.g. barriers are erect. You should take a sweep of the road. Is there any debris? Damp patches? Oil? Discard the rubbish, close all gates and check there are no visible road surface issues. Should you have any issues with those mentioned, you will need to contact your CSM to report them.

This leads me on to a crucial skill that Marshals should know how to do regardless of whether you have completed further training or not. OBSERVATION. There was a famous incident a few years ago involving Guy Martin where he was black flagged in Ramsey due to losing a wheel nut… definitely not a good thing to lose when you’re travelling at 200mph, but at least it was spotted. I believe a spectator noticed a wheel nut land right next to them and, after checking their camera, they had a photo of said wheel nut in mid-air with Guy centre stage. Thankfully the spectator notified a Marshal who was able to contact race control in order to stop Guy at the next safest point. It is so vital you stay focused. Observe every race number, every plate colour. Is there anything leaking or hanging off the bike? Does the sidecar driver still have a passenger? Trust me… that definitely happened.

If you are already a registered Marshal and have completed at least three sessions, you can register for the Incident Management Course (IMC). You cannot become a fully accredited Marshal until you have completed this course, but you can Marshal without it.

 

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You will receive a pack and a certificate once completing your IMC

You are encouraged to partake in the (IMC) which, on the Isle of Man, is provided by the St. John Ambulance Team who are fantastic!  They are on a first-come-first-served basis and ones around TT/MGP are usually fully booked. It can be a long day so please be warned about that – 8.45am to 5pm approx. However, on the plus side, tea/coffee/lunch is all provided and it is all free. The IMC does exactly what it says on the tin. It is to ensure you are fully equipped with the knowledge you need to manage an incident should it occur. When I first looked into what the IMC entailed I was initially put off by the ‘role play’ side of things. I didn’t want to be the mad woman screaming or being carried around on a stretcher. I wouldn’t say I’m shy, but I suppose I didn’t want to appear stupid in front of people who have probably done their IMC multiple times. Anyway, there was nothing to fear. We arrived, had a briefing, coffee and cake too if I remember rightly, and then we were onto the nitty gritty stuff. You learn about the basic roles of a marshal; checking the road, distribution of jobs, noting a helicopter landing spot and learning how to approach said helicopter, ensuring medical boxes are sealed, what’s inside them, etc. You learn about the flags – green, yellow, red, rain, sun, stationary, waived, etc. You get to have a fiddle with the Tetra radio’s: learn how to turn it on/off, change channel, radio control, the emergency button, etc.  It’s always good to go over simple knowledge like this because until it happens you don’t know how you’re going to react if an incident occurs.

Then it’s onto your first-aid bits. My favourite bit, but probably not if I have to put it all into practice. You can even be strapped to a stretcher if that’s what you’re into… It’s vital you remember that Travelling Marshal’s are trained in advanced first-aid and there are paramedics strategically dotted around the Mountain Course just in case. There is, of course, air-med, but until they arrive it’s down to you. I won’t go through everything you are taught, but you are first shown how to approach an injured rider. I never really thought about it, but if you’re lay on the floor with your helmet on, you’ve got seven million blind spots because you probably can’t (and shouldn’t) move your head. You are shown how to remove a rider’s helmet safely, the recovery position, bandages and most importantly CPR along with a lot more. Yes, that is how real your job as a marshal could be. I would insist you take this course. I know marshals who have saved lives because of first-aid training such as this. It is free and you will gain valuable information and knowledge which could potentially save not only a rider’s life but anyone’s life.

If you’re interested in taking the IMC, a list of dates can be found here. If you have any questions about it feel free to ask away in the comments below. I will be more than happy to answer any queries or forward them on to those who can assist further.

On a side note, one thing you should be prepared for if you are wanting to become a TT Course Marshal is the weather. You’ll probably end up looking like this:

The weather cannot be guaranteed, but don’t expect sunshine. You could be stood in the wind and rain for 20 minutes or more before a session is cancelled or you could be lucky enough to end up with a Manx tan! I can assure you you’ll get cold standing around, so definitely wear layers and don’t forget to take a hat! Just enjoy every moment of it because the TT really is f**ing amazing and you’re doing an amazing job by supporting it in the best way you can!

There are only 15 days until the Isle of Man TT Mountain Course closes for the first practice session of 2019. Becoming a marshal is easy, so there is no excuse not to sign-on if you want to. Don’t let there be a risk of cancelled sessions due to a lack of marshals.

Sign-on and help this world famous event take place. 

Words by Samantha Wanless

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The 2019 Road Racing Season

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In 2019 my little motto is ‘do more of what you love’, so expect more blogs to be appearing in the new future and hopefully more frequently too!

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Photo: Babb Photography

It not long until the first practice of the Isle of Man TT, and before I go any further if you will be on the island for Saturday 25th May PLEASE SIGN ON TO MARSHAL. Year upon year the first day of practice is always overshadowed by the usual ‘lack of marshals’ news bulletin. If you can spare those few hours for the newcomers to get a speed-controlled lap and for the other riders to have a bit of a wobble round the TT course, I know they will be very appreciative and grateful! If you want to know more about becoming a TT marshal, I’ve written a little blog to help you decide.

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Photo: Babb Photography

Dates for the diary – 25th May – 7th June 2019. Be there, or be square. I can only apologise for the extortionate prices of ferry crossings and plane tickets, they love spanking racing fans, but I honestly believe that what you will experience is priceless and I can guarantee it will leave you speechless. Trees line the roadsides along with beautiful Manx stone walls, curbstones, and dodgy camber is pretty much everywhere between Ginger Hall and Ramsey. These racers thrive in that type of environment, me on the other hand, not so much! However, I’m not talking purely about the racing here because there are some beautiful places on this little island that you can visit on those non-race days! If anyone is interested in knowing a few hidden gems, etc. leave me a message and I’ll try to get back to you!

I’m not going to bore you too much about the ins and outs of the Isle of Man TT. I’ll save all that for another day because at the moment I’m still suffering from the ‘TT Blues’ and all the things that hit the road racing family during 2019, but I will give you a little whistle-stop tour and probably end up going off on a tangent too…

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Charles Collister

1907 – the inaugural Isle of Man Tourist Trophy race was won by Charles Collister on the St Johns Short Course. Little did anyone know that over one hundred years later (the centenary year was a corker by the way!!) we would still be racing on the roads of the Isle of Man, but on a much larger scale. The circuit changed to the Mountain Course in 1911 and I guess they never looked back after that point! Mat Oxley, who some of you may be familiar with, posted something on Twitter the other day regarding the original FIM Motorcycle Grand Prix World Championship (now known as MotoGP.) Now, I knew that the TT used to be part of this, however, I find it crazy that no MotoGP rider would ever contemplate racing the TT despite the history books.

Rossi said, and I quote, ‘you are true warriors’, but has claimed he would never race a road race. Scott Redding, on the other hand, described it as a ‘death race’. You can’t win them all, but maybe they need to do their research. Thanks to Mat, he’s done it for them:

Photo: @matoxley

The FIM Motorcycle Grand Prix Championship consisted of only six rounds and, shocker, the Isle of Man TT and the Ulster Grand Prix are both on there! Two of the world’s most famous road races, also two road races who are fighting with each other for the title of ‘world’s fastest road race’. Cough, currently the TT, cough. The TT/UGP may now clash with some of the whopping nineteen rounds that MotoGP consists of, but maybe they need to be reminded of their roots? Anyway, they are two completely different disciplines now. Different rules, regs, machinery, set-up. I’m a lover of anything on two wheels, but once you’ve experienced a road race first hand you will never want to sit 200ft away behind a fence again.

Moving to the complete opposite of MotoGP, a time-trial is what sets the TT apart from any other road race. Racers are set off in twos ten seconds apart in practice and on race days the fire off down Bray Hill on their own ten seconds apart. No matter what anyone says hearing the 45-minute signal, 30-minute signal, 15-minute signal, 5-minute signal … ‘and we are racing’ in stereo from all the little battery-powered wireless radio’s firmly gripped in spectators hands makes you tingle ever so slightly. It’s usually John McGuinness who is first off the line, the road sweeper as some say, however during John’s hiatus due to injury it’s been Manxman Conor Cummins who has led the way.

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Photo: Babb Photography

I can’t even begin to imagine let alone describe the emotions Conor must be experiencing in the above photo. A flick of the visor, a brief split second to ensure it’s shut and there it is. The tap of the shoulder. It’s started. Having been through both the highs and lows of this Mountain Course, it must be both a daunting yet adrenaline fuelled challenge and an unimaginable sense of pride to race on your home tarmac.

It’s still Northern Ireland’s Joey Dunlop who has won the most Isle of Man TT’s at 26 wins. I was fortunate enough to visit the memorial garden last year and I can say I was more emotional than I ever imaged. The legend that is Joey lives on in all his fans, his family and of course the entire road racing community as does Robert Dunlop, Joey’s brother, and William Dunlop, Robert’s son, Michael’s brother. If you’re ever in Ballymoney, please go. Don’t forget to visit Joey’s Bar too! The best Guinness in N.I.

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Joey Dunlop’s Memorial Garden, Ballymoney

McGuinness sits slightly behind at 23 race wins and often jokes he’ll never be let back into Ireland if he surpasses those 26 wins! (I think he might be right though…) Joey’s nephew Michael is currently in third with 18 TT wins and at only 29-years-old, I think that’s bloody phenomenal. Known as ‘the Bull’, Michael isn’t the smoothest rider to grace our presence at the TT, but it sure does work for him and it’s amazing to watch him bounce from hedge to wall to curb to white line.

There are now six different classes: Superbike, Supersport, Superstock, Lightweight, Zero and Sidecars. I’m sure you’re all familiar with cc’s, etc. for the above so I won’t bore you with that! All you need to know is practice starts on a Saturday evening and continues every evening from Monday to Friday with the first race being held on the following Saturday. Obviously, this is all weather, marshals and strange emergency dependent. Those two weeks are completely nuts. You have to be nuts to be a spectator let alone a racer and if you don’t embrace the sticky floor of Bushy’s beer tent have you really been to the TT? Oh, and if you’ve never watched from the Bottom of Barregarrow or Crosby Leap you’ve definitely not been! I will definitely be writing a bit more in-depth about the TT, different spots, etc. in the near future before 2019’s kicks off, but I will leave it here for now. Finally, if you see and excited blonde woman with her head popping out of a bush along the TT course… it’s probably me, so say hi!

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Photo: Babb Photography

Between the months of September and May the island falls silent. Our three main road racing events finish for the year and, I don’t know about anyone else, but I don’t know what to do with myself other than countdown to the Macau GP and get up at silly o’clock to watch it.  If you live on the island, regardless of whether you like road racing or not, I can probably guarantee you will suffer from what is mainly known as ‘TT blues’, but similarly this can be reformed into ‘S100 blues’, ‘MGP blues’ or just pure ‘road racing blues’. The roar of motorbikes disappear, the sound of squeaky leathers and boots you have become accustomed to fade into the background and the articulated lorries dressed in team livery vacate the island in the blink of an eye. The island falls silent… until July.

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S100 Photo: Babb Photography

July is when the Southern 100 begins, down South as the name suggests, and if you have never been I highly recommend you do! It’s a mass start and a ‘proper’ road race as some like to call it. The Southern 100 started in 1955 and takes place on the Billown Circuit with the start/finish being in Castletown. There only used to be three races for different solo classes, but there are now twelve races with the inclusion of sidecars too. (If you want a tip, Church Bends is an epic place to watch, but take a spare pair of pants because the last time I watched from there Dean Harrison was millimeters away from touching the Manx stone walls whilst fighting for the lead. I’m also pretty sure my heart jumped out my mouth too….!) Veteran road racer Ian Lougher currently holds the most wins at the Southern 100 at a staggering 32 wins! The lap record, however, is held by Michael Dunlop and was set in 2017 at a time/speed of 2:12.231 at 115.707mph. Yes, that is two minutes… it is only 4.25 miles compared to the 37.75 miles TT Course. It is usually a very very close race on the roads, and if you want to be scared shitless at times, this is the race for you! You can literally hear them set off from Castletown, and regardless of where you are sat around the circuit, I guarantee you will the furore. I find the Southern 100 more edge-of-your-seat watching that the TT. You don’t even need to listen to the radio down there, just watch and you’ll know! Ps. 8th – 11th July 2019.

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Photo: Babb Photography

Onto the next then! There a little rest before the Manx Grand Prix (and Classic TT) begins in August and first started back in 1923 as the ‘Manx Amateur Road Races’. Seven years later it was renamed the MGP due to various rules, regulations, and interpretation. Basically, are you still an amateur after you’ve won a newcomer’s race and potentially set a lap record? Nope. This Mountain Course race is more of a stepping stone for those capable of produce lap times quick enough to compete at the TT. If you are looking for future road racing stars, look no further than the Manx. The majority of your up and coming road racers will begin their Mountain Course debut during these two weeks.  It’s two weeks where newcomers start to properly learn the vast TT course, and where some riders come back year after year to compete because of the love for the Manx, or maybe for an elusive win. On paper, it looks no different to the TT aside from the average level of experience, but in action, it is very different. A lot of riders say they don’t feel as much pressure as you do with the TT. It is publicised and there is radio commentary, etc., but as the top names aren’t involved I feel a lot of people think it’s boring. It is FAR from it.  It’s more laid back, mostly privateers and takes you back to the days of Joey Dunlop racing out the back of a van. There are six four-lap races which include the Newcomers Class’, Lightweight/Ultra Lightweight, Junior, and Senior Class.

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Photo: Babb Photography

The Newcomers Class does what it says on the tin basically! No experience is necessary, but you must hold a Mountain license. This is obviously a class you wouldn’t see at the TT and therefore it usually over-subscribed as a stepping stone to the TT. The riders are limited to machinery and it must not exceed 750cc. One thing that is similar to the TT is that any newcomers must wear an orange bib over their leathers during practice. The Lightweight/Ultra Lightweight class is for machinery of 125cc, 250cc, and 400cc capacity. The smell of them two-strokes though! Mmmm!!! Bliss. This is the one class I miss at the TT. The noise, the smell. It was part of the schedule until 2004 and so it’s usually a heavily subscribed class at the Manx. Then we are onto the Junior Class for machines between 200cc and 750cc although the majority are now four-stroke 4-cylinder 600cc bikes. What else could a Manx road race end with other than a Senior?! The final race of the MGP fortnight and I always find it’s a cracker because frustrations are always high after a week racing the Mountain Course. Blown engines, broken bits, fuel shortage, maybe even a little crash or two. Tensions are always high, but of course, everyone is in it to win it!

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Photo: Babb Photography

Unfortunately, or fortunately depending on who you are, they decided to ‘re-brand’ the Manx Grand Prix as the Festival of Motorcycling with the inclusion of new races – the ‘Classic TT’. It allows top TT riders such as John McGuinness, Michael Dunlop, Lee Johnston, Dean Harrison and the like more Mountain Course time without the added pressure that comes with the TT in June. It’s very interesting to see how these top riders have to adapt their style to suit the classic machinery. Dunlop, for example, noted how he had to stop being so aggressive to prevent things from breaking! They are very temperamental and it’s usually a miracle if they manage to get up the mountain let alone down it! There are big teams now involved in the Classic TT such as Norton, Team Classic Suzuki, etc. It’s not a walk in the park by any means, but it’s not 134mph laps as we saw in 2018 by Hickman. Although I think it is a great idea to allow the riders more time on the roads, I find it’s drawn a lot of the attention away from what the Manx Grand Prix really is. A lot say the Manx was dying and I do admit that some years it doesn’t seem as busy as it did 10 or so years ago. However, the addition of the Classic TT cannot have increased visitor numbers over the two weeks. It appears busy on the bank holiday weekend of the Classic TT races where ‘the big boys’ race their classic machines, then it fizzles back to those who are there purely for the Manx. I find it’s caused a bit of a divide in the road racing community. I guess I see both sides, but it’s nice for the Newcomers to the Mountain Course to have their time to shine and I really think people should be more supportive of them. At the end of the day, these are the potential TT winners of the future and I don’t want to take anything away from their two weeks of potential glory.

Rant over… oops!

Of course there are many other roads races, but for now I shall leave you with the Isle of Man’s road races. Notably there’s the NW200, Tandragee, Skerries, Macau GP and the Ulster Grand Prix… the latter I visited last year and I’m so excited to write about my experience as it is something completely different to the Isle of Man TT. That’ll be with you all soon!

Words by Samantha Wanless

The Truth About Road Racing

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*This may not be an easy read, but I think it’s an important one.

Road racing. It’s exactly that. Racing on a road. A public road, albeit closed. On two wheels. On a motorbike. Between the stone walls, hedges and curb stones. Through the trees, mind that damp patch and try to hit that apex. Trees, barbed wire fences, lampposts line the roadsides. There are bridges, hairpins and maybe a Mountain to contest. Roundabouts and chicanes maybe. A mass start or a time trial.

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This is road racing and it isn’t for everyone.

Before I moved to the Isle of Man myself and my family made the pilgrimage over to the Isle of Man TT and Manx Grand Prix almost every year. I remember kids at school asking me why was I going to an Island where there will be nothing to do? Are you sure you mean Man and not White? Is there even electricity. To answer those questions – yes I meant Man, yes there is electricity and that little journey over the Irish Sea is more than just a holiday. It’s a community flocking to a small island to witness one of the greatest ever spectacles. Standing at the bottom of the road watching these racers fly through is something I don’t think you can comprehend at 6 or 7. I can still remember how it felt though. That jumping feeling when one flew past, maybe a little step back. Okay, a rather large step back, but I was hooked. I found myself in a situation where I couldn’t help but watch. I’d run down to the bottom of my grandparent’s road ready to watch. When you’re small you don’t have to be anywhere early… people just let you push in. It was great! At that age you don’t understand the ins and outs of road racing or probably motorsport in general. My Poppa (Grandad) used to track race, he always had a motorbike. I guess it’s all kind of in my blood. The speed, the danger, the mechanics. My Mom followed BSB, WSBK and MotoGP religiously. All you really see at the age though is the race bikes in the paddock, the racers who you meet and talk to and then the races themselves. You cling onto a favourite at that age, you idolise without even realising. You’re oblivious to everything else that goes on. I suppose you think these racers are invincible and that everything will be okay; it’ll t-cut out mentality. Until one day you’re that little bit older and suddenly the world is no longer rainbows and butterflies.

I was 9 when myself and thousands of race fans lost their racing hero – David Jefferies. I cried and I cried. The whole atmosphere on this little island changed, the whole island was devastated – something we would unfortunately encounter again and again.  I didn’t see it, in fact I wasn’t anywhere near where the incident happened, but even at 9 my heart sank hearing the words ‘red flag’ and the press release that followed. Flowers and items in memory were laid by Jefferies family, team-mates, friends, fans. They still are to this day. I guess at that point for me it was a realisation. Jefferies was a TT winner, in fact he won nine in the six years he contested. He knew his way round; he knew his bike. Yet in a split second – gone. The realisation for me at that age was simple. This sport is dangerous. This sport can seriously injure people, or worse fatally. This sport is not for the faint-hearted. This sport is something you need to understand before you immerse yourself in it. This sport is where you need to be prepared for every eventuality. It could be due to a mechanical issue, rider error or even a rabbit. With some fatalities we will just never know except it was a racing incident. I remember my Mom consoling me telling me ‘it’s what they do, they know the risks’. I couldn’t understand how anyone could say bye to their wife, children or parents, put a flammable tank between their legs and ride the nuts off a motorbike with the knowledge they might not make it home alive. I was 9. I was angry. I was upset. The rider I loved, the rider who made me giddy over Suzuki’s, the rider who ignited my road racing spark was gone.

Two months later I found myself back on the Isle of Man for the Manx Grand Prix. I was only 9. I can’t remember what happened in those two months, I can’t remember how I felt, but I’m pretty sure even at 9 I was questioning why I was stood at the bottom of the road once again ready to watch yet more road racing on the same course that took my hero. Yes, it was my family’s choice as to where we went on holiday, but ultimately it was my decision as to whether I watched the racing or not. I chose to. I was drawn to the racing. Not because of the chance of death, not because of the risk, but because of the elation and emotion that everyone feels when you hear ‘xxx WINS THE SENIOR TT’.  You feel like you’re part of something special. Sat by your little radio with Manx Radio AM blaring out, alongside other race fans who are waving their programmes, shouting ‘GO ON FELLA!’, waving their arms around, jumping up in the air. It’s unbelievable. And all this is happening whilst you are stood at the end of a road, sat on a hedge or in a field. They are, in some places, inches away from you. Probably within touching distance. It is scary. You have to be prepared for it, you have to know that motorsport is dangerous. Not just road racing, but motorsport in general. You’re don’t usually get that type of danger at Silverstone or Brands hatch. You’re shoved behind a tall fence or in a grandstand. You don’t often get the danger of a curb stone, a brick wall or a lamppost either. You have to pay for admission, which these days can cost the world, and the majority of the time you have to be pretty important to take a walk down pit lane to the garages. There’s none of that b*llshit at a road race. The paddock is open for everyone to walk around without any charge. You can find yourself a space in a hedge, provided it’s not prohibited’ for free. Take yourself a few beers and a packed lunch and you’re set for a day’s racing! You can congregate on the start line and watch the racers set off down Bray Hill one by one. You can be right where the mass starts take off from at the Southern 100, NW200 or Ulster Grand Prix. Whether you go with friends or go alone, you’re bound to make new friends, race friends, friends who just get it. Nowadays you have to pay to sit in the main grandstand at the start/finish of the TT course and they have started to put up paid-for Grandstand at various points around the course. Some people who only know this are likely to pay, but old school race fans will just perch on a wall, in a hedge, in a field where it’s free (or a donation is payable). You begin to learn that road racing fans aren’t like ordinary race fans. You begin to learn that road racers aren’t like track racers.

There are people I work with who just don’t get it. There will be people in Tesco’s complaining that roads are closed, no food is left or that there’s simply too many motorbikes. They live here, love the Isle of Man, but just don’t understand why for almost 5 weeks of the year specific roads close for racers to jump on their motorbikes to race the roads we drive on daily. They don’t understand why people make the pilgrimage from all over the world to be on this little, not usually tropical, island. One year I noticed some motorbikes had Australian number plates. Turns out the riders had shipped their bikes over so they can ride on the famous TT course. A number of people often ride through Europe, jump on the Eurostar or ferry, cross the English Channel, ride up from Dover to Liverpool or Heysham, sail the Irish Sea just to get to the races. That’s days of travelling. That’s commitment. That’s what we do to watch and immerse ourselves in what this bizarre sport we love. I don’t expect outsiders to understand. Not many people I know would be happy to sit on a grass bank with ants and whatever else is lurking for a day’s racing. Not many find it appealing especially if you’re in the middle of a field and the only toilet you have is a bush… Personally, it doesn’t bother me. I’m 100% content sat on a grass bank, in a hedge or on a stone wall. I’m in awe of these racers. It’s a pleasure to watch these people do what they do best. Hitting those apexes, navigating through the shade of the trees, dancing on the foot pegs. I don’t expect everyone to understand, I especially don’t expect them to understand after recent events where even road race fans are questioning their love for the sport. I know I have been hence why I’m writing this today. Ask a road racing fan on a good day how they feel about road racing and before you know it you’ll be hooked yourself. Catch a road racing fan on a bad day and they’ll tell you how much they hate it. A few weeks later you’ll catch that same road racing fan back in a hedge. But why? Because it’s all we know, it’s under our skin, it’s part of us. I truly believe that a road racing fan carries the death of a racer around with them for a while regardless of whether they witnessed it or not. The turn up on a hedge the next day because it’s what that racer would want. It’s a sign of respect, it’s a show of solidarity.

Some of these racers didn’t make it home alive, but were they doing what they loved? Yes. Some have been critically injured, but were they living life to their fullest? Yes. Some may have lost finger tips, some may have lost a limb, but did they know the risks? Yes. The additional danger in road racing is quite clearly obvious and it isn’t rocket science. 1. Racing on two wheels comes with an additional risk in comparison to rallying for example. 2. The furniture. 3. No run off area, kitty litter or similar. Those of the three main differences. In a racing incident it can be difficult to distinguish a fault, a reason specifically when the mechanical factors appear to be sound after inspection. A rider error can be hard to take, but it’s a stark reminder that they’re only human.

Over the years my eyes were opened to even more road races. There isn’t just the Isle of Man TT or the Manx Grand Prix – there are many! North West 200 and Ulster Grand Prix in Northern Ireland, Skerries 100 in Southern Island. The Southern 100 down south on the Isle of Man and many more, but these are to name a few. There have been huge achievements at all of the above, but with great achievements come sadness and at each of the above road races there have been fatalities. You also find road racing in Spain and other European countries, however they’re not as well publicised here in the UK. In fact, the only time road racing gets a mention in the press is when there is are life-threatening injuries or fatalities.

You’ll find The Time, The Independent, The Huffington Post and many more only ever mention the Isle of Man TT, Southern 100, Skerries 100 if a rider has died. They might mention if Cal Crutchlow grabs a podium position in MotoGP, but they won’t mention that Peter Hickman is the world’s fastest road racer as he set a new lap record around the Isle of Man TT course. They won’t mention that Dean Harrison won the Supersport TT this year and that before Hickman smashed the outright lap record at the TT Harrison was actually the world’s fastest road racer at the Ulster Grand Prix or that John McGuinness had signed for Norton. The only recent ‘news’ the world knows about McGuinness is that his Honda spat him off at the NW200 leaving him partly broken. People on the outside are only aware of a handful of riders this year: Dan Kneen, Steve Mercer, Adam Lyon, William Dunlop, James Cowton and Ivan Lintin, People on the outside are only aware of these riders for the worst possible reason. They have either been fatally killed whilst racing or critically injured. Of course this is news, serious news, but they are also people. They’re not just racers. They have families. They might have a girlfriend or wife, possibly even children. The risks are well-known by both the rider and their families. McGuinness has said ‘we look selfish at times; we just can’t help it.’ Their wife will probably be the one holding their helmet whilst their husband zips up their leathers on the start line. Their children are probably holding their gloves whilst their daddy puts on his helmet. Their partners go into a relationship with them as racers whether that be on a road or a track. Their children are brought into this crazy world of road racing from birth and it’s all they know. Paul Shoesmith, who lost his life in June 2016, had two young boys. You’d see Shoey’s tent in the paddock and know that his two little boys wouldn’t be far away razzing round the paddock on their little balance bikes. They loved it! This racing world is all they know. It’s not just a few weeks of the year. The racing world is their life, their family. It’s in their blood regardless of whether they decide to take up racing later in life or not. I hope people can at least understand that part of this crazy world rather than criticising the life they choose.

It was Senior Race Day in 2015. Myself, my partner and his family decided we’d go up to the K Tree, but it was pretty much full! Instead we headed to the 11th milestone and set-up camp on a hedge. The buzz around the Senior TT is unreal despite having a Superbike race on the Monday, this is always the one racers want to win. The Marquis de Mouzilly St. Mars trophy is awarded to the winner. It’s prestigious. It’s special. However, that day in 2015 I witnessed my first ‘big’ crash. I heard a bang, saw a fireball and jumped down behind the hedge as I saw bike bits fly towards me. It was horrifying. The adrenaline had kicked in after a few short seconds and I was ready to deal with whatever had just happened, but I wasn’t signed-on to marshal that day. I was there to spectate. There were adequate numbers of marshals and in a situation like that too many cooks’ rings all too true. The helicopter came, although it felt like hours before it arrived, and I believe there was an off-duty nurse spectating who offered her assistance. It also felt like hours until the helicopter left, but you’re never really certain as to whether that’s a good thing or not. Steve Mercer unfortunately had to ride through the smoke and potentially the fireball that lit up the sky. He pulled into the field next to us and sat there facing away from the road. He just wanted to be alone. All of a sudden the realities of road racing were all too clear. I remember a marshal walking down the pavement after it happened asking if everyone was okay with blood over his orange jacket. He was so calm, collected. Seeing that crash was upsetting, but it never stopped me from watching road racing. The love was still there, just a little tainted. After I’d calmed down and made sure others around me were okay, I looked at Twitter. Rumours were rife. I remember seeing riders’ names strewn left, right and centre. None of which were correct might I add. None of us could even see a number on the bike and we were there, we saw it. This happens every damn time, but unfortunately we live in a world now ruled by social media. There appears to be some kind of sick trophy that people want to grab and say they were the first to announce a death.

Social media wasn’t really a thing when I watched as a child. Smartphones didn’t exist and you were lucky if you were able to send a picture message without trying 273 times. You listened to Manx Radio and if you wanted to document anything you either had a camera or a camcorder. You couldn’t upload photos or videos onto Twitter or Facebook. The latest news wasn’t in your hand. Now I’m constantly fighting with people to keep the rumours they’ve heard to themselves rather than plastering them over social media where families could potentially be given false information. Would you like to see that your boyfriend, husband, wife had died in a racing incident on Twitter? These people either call themselves race fans or their people who want it banned. It boils my blood how social media can be turned into such a negative form of communication. A lot of road racing fans use Twitter, for example, to keep up with the results, the latest updated whether that be yellow flags, red flags. Those of us who know the sport, who respect the sport know that nothing good ever comes of speculation. Twitter is full of racers, teams, team members, family and friends. I have many friends who are directly involved in road racing whether they race themselves, are family or friends of a racer or even part of a team. There’s a little network behind the scenes of Twitter both publicly and privately. When an incident happens we don’t gossip or share information over a public platform. If something needs to be said, it’s done privately. That little network is what holds this community together sometimes. This community knows nothing is official until a press release is published. This community knows the heartache. This community knows this is road racing and this is dangerous. This community is a family. We are all well informed of the risks, of the consequences. Please don’t try and tell us our sport should be no more, that we should suppress such natural born talent on a motorcycle because some people who aren’t even involved in this sport are worried about the consequences.

The past few weeks have been ones of loss, heartbreak and tears. Practice week of the 2018 Isle of Man TT brought up heartache and loss. The Isle of Man lost one of its own – Dan Kneen. This little island will take a while to heal from the loss of Dan, it won’t be quick nor easy. With the support of Dan’s family, the Tyco BMW team and the races went on as scheduled with the knowledge that this is exactly what Dan would have wanted. On the same evening Steve Mercer was also involved in an incident where he was said to be in a critical condition. As per the schedule, we continued knowing that these racers wouldn’t want the races to be stopped. During the Supersport Race Adam Lyon’s was fatally injured on the Mountain section after a competitive start to his Mountain course career. At the Skerries 100 only last weekend it was announced that we lost another of the Dunlop dynasty – William. Brother of Michael, nephew of Joey, son of Robert. Northern Ireland once again along with the entire road racing community are mourning the loss of another of the greatest road racing families in history. I still don’t really know what to say about William other than he was a gentleman both on and off the roads. He’ll be sorely missed by many. Only yesterday at the Southern 100 we lost another road racer – James Cowton. The death of a road racer regardless of whether they are a newcomer or experienced always comes as a shock. It always takes time to come to terms with a loss, and for some it will never leave us.

This is by no means a direct comparison, but for a bit of perspective in 2018 so far FIVE people have died attempting to climb Mount Everest. In 2017 there were SIX. In 2016 there were SEVEN. Now, you tell me that road racing is dangerous and that it should be banned? Ban it because people died doing what they loved, people died living their dream? Ban it because it’s not safe? It’s just not the answer and it’s not what the families of these racers need to be hearing. They will grieve, they will go through every possible emotion, but they will eventually find some comfort and may even find themselves back in the paddock involving themselves because it’s all they know. Whilst writing this my thoughts are with those who are no longer here to live their dream and especially with the families of William Dunlop and James Cowton. Ivan Lintin remains in a critical condition following yesterday’s incident and has been transferred to Liverpool for further treatment – keep fighting!

I’m not too sure how much more this sport, the families, friends and fans can take, but what I do know is we’ll get through it & help those who need it. Don’t get me wrong it’ll take time, lots of time. This season has been horrendous, one of the worst I’ve known, but we’ll get there, we’ll get through it. The truth is road racing is dangerous. Motorsport in general is dangerous. I hope that this gives an insight into this crazy world of road racing especially if you’re someone who just doesn’t get this sport. It’s difficult to understand at times, it’s difficult to love at times. It’s a sport I hate to love sometimes, but a sport I can’t help but love.

Steve Mercer posted something quite poignant today on Facebook for his first post since his incident at TT and I thought I would leave you with this little sentence – ‘We are bike racers and bike racers fight.’

Words by Samantha Wanless

IOMTT: Supersport Race 2

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Wednesday 6th June and it’s the third race day of the week!

We decided we’d stay at home for the day and instead venture alllllll the way (1 min walk) to the top of Station Road and plonk ourselves on the decking next to Motors & Mowers. At least it’s handy to pop back for the toilet, food or to let the dog out! It’s sounds silly to say this, but two-weeks of this really does tire you out! Up and out early, the adrenaline, the late nights due to watching stunt shows on the prom or dancing around Bushy’s. Imagine how those racers must feel if us spectators are complaining we’re knackered. My other half had taken our trusty camping chairs up with coffee and snacks and I wandered up the road just before roads closed. That was us then until lunchtime. The sun was blisteringly hot. We had to share our suncream around as people had completely underestimated the Manx weather… anyone would think it rains most of the time! 

No delays were announced, conditions appeared perfect other than a burst water main which was just slightly leaking onto the road near Ballagarey, but nothing major at that moment in time. After the Supersport 1 race every one appeared to be excited about this. There were German’s to our left with a signed Hickman cap, Welsh to our right and a gaggle of Yorkshiremen with their Yorkshire rose flag. Okay, so I was sandwiched between Hickman and Harrison fans… the two who were probably about to fight it out on the road for that top step and I was slap bang in the middle.  Fabulous – lets see how this one pans out!! 

TT tan update at around 11am – Britten pink. 

As we’ve seen all week it was Conor Cummins who set off the field from Glencrutchery Road, but on the leaderboard Harrison took that number one position at Glen Helen. 1.8s separated Harrison and Dunlop with Hillier a mere 0.4s back. Cummins slotted into fifth just behind Hickman with Gary John sixth. When Harrison was due into view at Kirk Michael all I could see was that Yorkshire rose being waved around. Good job it wasn’t the Manx flag… bit shit having an all red flag when you think about. By Ramsey Hairpin Harrison had increased his lead over Dunlop to 2.7s with Hillier in third, but after his Superstock win on Monday under his leathers it appeared that Hickman was hungry for more of that. The gap to Hillier was now only 0.1s. 

Harrison’s opening lap of 128.188mph gave him a 3.6s leave over Dunlop with Hickman grabbing that third spot from Hillier over the Mountain. Cummins remained in fifth with Padgett’s team-mate Lee Johnston moving up to sixth ahead of Josh Brookes. As they sweep through the lefts and right round Laurel Bank, Black Dub and up through Glen Helen on the second lap, Harrison had increased his lead to 4.5s over Dunlop. The lead was increasing as Harrison set a 129.099mph – just a fraction outside Dunlop’s lap record from the first race on Monday. 8.3 was the lead as he came into the pits. This is where the drama began. It was announced over the tannoy that Dunlop had incurred a 30s penalty for exceeding the pit lane speed limit by 0.2km/h. I remember this happening to Guy Martin a few years back and boy did we all know about it. He wasn’t happy, he was fuming. Lots of toys out the pram, dummy spat and some colourful language. It’s difficult having to accept a 30s penalty with racing as close as 0.1s it can bring you down maybe even into tenth position. Dunlop had his rear tyre changed, something Harrison didn’t do, but it also saw Harrison up to a 18.3s lead over Hickman. Dunlop would have slotted into sixth following the standings after lap three, but by Glen Helen he was up to fifth. That podium seemed a long way off, but maybe it was possible? 

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Speaking of penalties, it was also announced that there were time penalties given to two different riders as their pit crew were using mobile phones in pit lane. It states everywhere that you cannot use your mobile phones in pit lane, yet why did these people feel it was necessary? I believe it was a 10s penalty. A penalty which the racer didn’t incur, yet instead it was their trusted pit crew that forced it upon them. I just couldn’t quite believe my ears when I heard it. Madness. Utter madness. I feel sorry for those racers. They must feel very let down. 

Up to Ramsey things remained similar. Harrison was on a charge and pulling away from Hickman, and Hickman doing the same to Hillier. Dunlop was trying to close in on Cummins who now slotted into fourth after the 30s penalty had been included. As they crossed the line to begin their fourth and final lap of the 600cc race, Harrison had a comfortable lead of 19.5s over Hickman who looked comfortable in second having fought Hillier off who was back 7.9s. Cummins still had the edge on Dunlop. No lap records were broken, Harrison led the way for the entirety of the four laps, but did in fact break the race record as he crossed the line to win the second Supersport race of the 2018 TT!

Harrison had finally done it! He crossed the line, took the chequered flag – boom – that right turn into parc ferme and down the middle After the bad luck we’d seen Harrison have in the Superbike race on Saturday, I’d never heard cheers like it. Everyone was thrilled to see him on top of the podium followed by Hickman and Hillier – the 3 H’s. Couldn’t have happened to a nicer fella. This is Harrison’s second TT win and one he’s fought hard to get this year… and there’s still the Senior TT race to go! 


Cummins, Dunlop and Brookes completed the top six with Johnston, Johnson, Cowton and Ivan Lintin rounded out the top ten.

It’s hard to think about what could have happened if Dunlop hadn’t incurred that penalty in pit lane. Maybe there may have been a mechanical problem instead. It’s really tough on these machines round this course. It’s an endurance for them yet worse. The suspension takes a beating on these roads for example, the 600cc engines are revved to within an inch of their lives. It’s a test of man, machine and mountain – one which Harrison had finally achieved. 

TT tan update – Ducati red. 

The Supersport TT was only the beginning of Wednesday’s races, the Lightweight TT followed…

IOMTT: Hickman’s maiden victory

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…and this was what followed the Supersport 1 race on Monday just an hour or two later.

After we had all just learnt the sad news regarding Adam Lyon, it was time to go racing again. There really isn’t much time to digest what had occurred in the previous race. I don’t really think it’s a good idea to have that time to digest if I’m honest. These racers, well, for some of them this isn’t just a hobby – it’s a job. They have a job to do and that’s to place their machine as high as they possibly can as well as grabbing some new PB’s whilst they’re at it. Sometimes your head just isn’t in it and that’s okay. It’s about recognising that it isn’t. That’s the key. Earlier on in practice week we saw William Dunlop pull out of this year’s TT due to his own personal reasons. I respect him for that as does everyone else. It was clear his head and maybe his heart just wasn’t in it this year, but he’ll be back. He’s a Dunlop after all.

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They line the machines up from 1 – 20 along the start line one after the other. The teams run around like little ants shoving tyre warmers on, doing final checks and most importantly making sure there’s someone holding that brolly because it is majorly hot here. My TT tan is current at level Hizzy helmet pink, but I would probably guess that it will upgrade to the next level come Wednesday. Dressed in their leather suits whether they be RST or Alpinestar, Sidi or Daytona boots. They must be roasting. And then on goes the lid. It’s race time.

Off they go one by one with 20 seconds in between. Harrison led Dunlolp by 3.5s at Glen Helen on the first lap with Gary Johnson slotting into third. Michael Rutter, James Hillier and David Johnson completed the top six. Notably newcomer Davey Todd (who I will keep raving about because I honestly think he’s been bloody amazing round here to date) was up into 9th. Oddly Peter Hickman appeared way down the list in 10th and was not where he was expected to be. Later it was confirmed that Hickman had indeed run on at the Braddan oak tree and was told by a marshal he would have to do around a 6-point turn to go back round the tree the correct way. After the Superstock race Hickman stated he had mis-judged his braking point after finishing a four-lap race on a little 600. Clearly the braking points are very different between the Supersport and Superstock machines with the 1000cc out-the-show-room bike needing a longer braking period due to its weight and bhp.

By the time they had reached Ballaugh Harrison’s lead was up to 4.4s and at Ramsey he was up to 4.8s. Except for mechanical issues, this year it really seems like Harrison is the one to beat. He’s been pushing these lap times out quicker than anyone has ever seen before. He sounds and looks more determined than ever and he’s ready to increase his tally of TT wins. Another ‘H’ was now joining the party however. Hickman had picked up his pace after a rookie error and he was back up from 10th into the 3rd position – 6s behind Dunlop, 3.5s ahead of Rutter. Johnson had filtered down to fifth and wasn’t able to keep up the pace he had initially started from the Grandstand to Glen Helen.

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It was getting exciting. The excitement was building on the grass bank and everyone was cheering as Hickman climbed up the rankings. I’m happy to cheer on every rider going – I think it’s spectacular what each and every one of them do whether they finish 1st, 34th or retire. They’re all insanely talented and world-class racers to take on this Mountain course. I for one, as always, couldn’t help but watch in awe as they flew past Kirk Michael filling station appearing on the left-hand side of the road less than an inch away from the curb right in front of me. A quick flick to the right-hand side of the road to kiss the long grass emerging from the hedge where the ’40’ speed limit sign hides. A little jump, a bit of an arse-end wiggle, and they’re gone. Onto Rhencullen 2, through the straight a Bishopscourt, round bendy Alpine and into Ballaugh quicker than you could say ‘what a race!’

At Ramsey it was still Harrison, Dunlop, Hickman. Harrison was slightly under the outright Superstock lap record with a lap of 133.073mph, but 4.3s ahead ahead of Dunlop. Hickman only a further 3.3s behind Dunlop. Then they were onto lap 2 – the lap with the pit stop. A lap where everything can be won or lost. As they got to Glen Helen, Harrison’s lead was up to 5.7s, Hickman was continuing his charge and slicing through the seconds that stood between him and the second place Dunlop currently held. By Ballaugh, second was his by 0.8s. The race was hotting up, so were the roads and my bare arms. We were in for a close race both time-wise and on the roads. We were ready. It was time to see what these boys could do.

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At Ramsey Hairpin Hickman had eaten into Harrison’s lead which was down to only 2.4s. Hickman had managed to keep Dunlop at bay with a 2.2s gap back to third. Rutter was still hanging onto fourth, but David Johnson and Hillier were tearing up rubber and heading his way. It was announced over the radio the Cummins had retired at Ballaugh Bridge. Gutted. Truly gutted. The whole crowed at Rhencullen deflated a little bit. Whether you’re Manx or not, to come back and race this 37.73 mile course which spat you off 8-years-ago causing pretty significant damage is gutsy. It’s amazing and it’s brave. It’s fantastic to see how determined Cummins had been to get back on a bike and to race round his home course once again. He’s a pleasure to watch round here and a credit to the Padgett’s Honda team.

Back at the front Hickman was still on that quick lap… a quick lap which saw him smash the lap record put it in a 134.077mph giving him a 1.2s lead over Harrison with Dunlop 1.8s behind in third. Just three seconds covered the top three. Insane. These road racers were in another league, a league of their own, a race against the road, against the time, against each other. It was on and it looked as though Hickman was there to stay at the top of the timing. David Johnson had moved on up into fourth after hunting down Rutter, but this was only one second that stood between Johnson, Rutter and Hillier. Us spectators were in for a treat, a frightening one maybe, but they were all so bunched up on the roads – it’s nothing like I’ve ever seen before!

Then Davey Todd. 127.890mph. The second fastest newcomer ever to lap this Mountain course which saw him take 7th place on lap 2.

As I was saying, a race can be won and lost in the pits. We definitely saw some shuffling oing on as Dunlop hit the top of the timesheets at Glen Helen on lap three after a blistering pit stop. All credit to those who are involved in the pits. They have such a vital job, a job which is out of the racers hands and they rely so much on their team to ensure everything is present and correct. Hickman had slipped back into third with Harrison remaining in second. Johnson was hanging onto fourth, Rutter was down to sixth and Hillier in fifth. Gary Johnson was announced as a retirement despite seemingly having the pace at the beginning of lap 1. Gary – go visit those fairies and ask for some luck as all you seem to get is the shit end of the stick!!

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Dunlop was still the race leader at Ballaugh, but only by 0.178s as Hickman had re-grouped, his head was clearly back on track. Harrison was still hanging on only 1s behind Hickman. The battle for fourth was still cracking as Hillier and Johnson were fighting hard – only 0.047s between them. Then we were back to Ramsey. Glen Helen to Ramsey appears to be a quick section for Hickman. He always jokes about being shit on the first lap, I think I would be to trying to get your head into speeds like that and still managing to pick out P1 +0.178. But seriously, that man is quick and he was back in P1 +0.87s at Ramsey. Up the Mountain and down. Round the creg-ny-baa pub, down through hillberry and sign-post corner into Governor’s and onto the start/finish… lap four – it’s gonna be a corker.

Half a second. That’s all. Only half a second between Hickman and Dunlop. Could you even imagine that? You would think not much could happen in 0.5s, but if you think that you’ve never been to the Isle of Man TT.

The sun was still blazing, but a light breeze had appeared. At Glen Helen Hickman had pulled another eight tenths of a second out, but Dunlop was responding and he was responding quick. The gap was down to 0.146s at Ramsey. That’s now less than half a second to think about… it takes me longer than 0.146s to change gear never mind grab some clutch, some brake, change gear, throw your weight to the left than back to the right ready to twist that throttle some more. I don’t know how they do it! With Hickman obviously catching a glimpse of a pit-board showing Dunlop’s pace increasing it was down to him to do the same. And so he did. Hickman set the fastest eever sector time form Ramsey to the Bungalow then for the Bungalow to Cronk-ny-Mona… followed by a new lap record on a stocker of 134.403mph.

It was beginning to look too close to call, but after Hickman set a sensational lap of 134.403mph he took the chequered flag and became an Isle of Man TT winner for the very first time. Huge congratulations! Us spectators can only dream about what it must feel like to race around here let alone put in a new stocker lap record followed by a win. Incredible scenes and what a race it was to watch. A pleasure to listen to and, although I love a Dunlop on the top of the podium, so amazing to see someone take their first TT win after such a hard four-lap battle. Dunlop took second 4.4s behind and Harrison took third. Johnson won that incredible battle for fourth with Hillier and Rutter fifth and sixth respectively. Sam West had a mega race and finished in 8th as top privateer and it was newcomer Todd who rounded out the top ten. I can imagine he’ll be snapped up pretty sharpish by a team in that paddock this week.

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That Superstock race was sensational. The crowds were wild for Hickman and I still think there’s more people on this tiny little island in the middle of the Irish Sea than I have seen in years. Probably the last time I remember it looking and feeling this busy was back in 2003. The atmosphere is just incredible and of course the weather helps, but I can’t help but feel that this year the Isle of Man TT has found its mojo again. Maybe next year, it’ll be even bigger than ever before with the likes of John McGuinness back to race the Norton and Hutchinson hopefully back to full fitness. I’d also like to mention a huge get well soon to Bruce Anstey who is currently undergoing treatment. I know there’s a huge amount of people who are missing the Flying Kiwi both on the roads and in the paddock. Keep on fighting!!

For now the racing will go quiet and take a day’s rest. The action returns on Wednesday for the second Supersport race followed by the Lightweight TT.