June 8 – from Bill Penney
Today started with the results of heavy overnight rain, wet roads and advice that the first race of today, the Supertwins, would be delayed. You should understand that the whole circuit is made up of public roads so first a road closure time must be announced following which a start time for the race can be announced … this is normally about 45 minutes after the road closure to allow the course marshals time to clear any normal road debris away in time for the start. I cannot emphasize enough , in spite of the fatalities, just how much effort is made for the racing to be as safe as possible. Just yesterday a foreign visitor attempted to cross the track during the race and was fined approximately $3200 to be paid on the spot. Regarding local sentiment toward race fatalities it seems to be genuine sadness coupled with an understanding that the riders love to race knowing the risk of death and this year in the solo races there are approximately 50 entries per race, so no lack of interest.
Eventually the roads were closed at 1:00pm and at 1:45 the riders in the Supertwins class came out for an exploratory lap(strangely they can ride any class of bike) to get a feel for the track followed by the sidecar boys whose next race will be Friday but who need to get their suspension settings etc sorted.
Next an announcement was made that the 2nd race of the day, the 2nd Supersport race would be held at 6:30 this evening after the the roads were to be opened at 5 and closed again at 6. Opened to allow islanders to move around after work.
On to the Supertwins. These are bikes of two cylinders with a maximum capacity of 700cc based on Kawasaki, Suzuki and Yamaha engines (Mike Sikora and Coop can be proud of the engines that power their Teneres as can Rich Frantz and Peter Menczer with their VStroms). In addition we had a couple of Aprillia 660s entering the TT for the first time. In race trim all the bikes make around 115+ hp and the lap record is held by Michael Dunlop at about 124 mph. Top speed today 161 mph!
Today I was stationed at Ballacraine which is a 90 degree right hand turn about 5 miles on from Braddan Bridge with my new pal Andrew Jess from Dumphries in Scotland (who is staying at the same house in Port Erin). We were sitting on the outside entry to the turn behind a stone wall and when the riders came through they were about 6 feet from us… unbelievable and the noise as they shifted down through the gears and threw the bikes into the right hand turn with the fast guy’s knees dragging on the tarmac. You can look at it on film forever but the whole experience gets the hairs standing on the back of our necks. The favorites were Michael Dunlop and Hickman who were really in a class of their own riding factory Paton bikes built in Italy and after 2 laps there was 4/10 second between them. Unfortunately we were disappointed when Michael’s bike failed halfway through the 3rd lap so Peter went on to win easily followed by Lee Johnston on the new Aprilia and Colin Jordan on the Kawasaki. Should be mentioned that these small bikes achieve phenomenal lap speeds because the riders hold their speed through the corners and use much more of the track than the big bikes. Only one race today as rain came and the Superports race was postponed until tomorrow, subject to the weather of course.
One asks the question ‘why not fit rain tires?’ simple answer explained to me is that rain tires would barely last a lap so don’t bother. Another reason not to run a wet race safety wise is visibility over the mountain subject of the eponymous ‘Mountain Course’ over which all the TT races are run.
Fingers crossed for tomorrow.