06/08/2022 at 4:20 pm #87049
Club member Bill Penney is on the Isle of Man this week taking in the legendary Isle of Man TT races. Fortunately for us he is sending periodic updates of the best places to watch the race, the unbelievable riding he is seeing within a few yards of the course, race results, and anything else of interest. I’ll be posting Bill’s reports as I receive them.
I’m sitting in the grandstand at Braddan bridge almost 3 hours before the racing starts and the place is filling up. Bikes by the hundreds keep moving by searching for the best viewing spots. I drove the whole circuit yesterday and given the nature of the 250+ turns it’s incredible to understand how these guys are able to lap at 130+ mph and the sidecars at up to 120. Hopefully the rain will hold off today as they have to fit in 3 races due to a sidecar race being red flagged Saturday…rider and passenger killed. I’ll send you a picture as soon as I can.
I spent yesterday in the stand(bleachers) at an S corner called Braddan Bridge. I arrived at about 8 am knowing that the racing would not start until much later but also having no idea of when the regulars would arrive and determined to get a seat. This is the first major viewing point after the start of the race and there are food and toilets. The riders start off at 10 second intervals on the Glencrutchery Rd and proceed down Bray Hill which is much steeper than a film can properly show. 2 miles down the road at Braddan I could hear the shriek of the exhausts as the riders ran through the gears hitting the rev limiter in every gear until they reach, in the case of the liter bikes, about 190+ mph at the bottom of the hill……they reached Braddan in about 40 seconds!!
There had been a fatal accident on Saturday in the sidecar race when an outfit crashed, I believe, at the bottom of Bray Hill. The passenger died and the pilot is in critical condition. This caused the race to be red flagged and a decision made to push the resumption of the race until Monday and to accommodate the scheduled Monday races the Sidecar race was reduced to 2 laps and the planned Supersport (600cc 4cyl ,<800cc for 3 cyl) and Superstock (1000cc) races cut from 4 to 3 laps. The Supersport race started at around 11:15 and was won by Michael Dunlop (the nephew of the famous Joey Dunlop)on a Yamaha and this his 20th TT victory. Have to say these 600’s are real screamers and demand we spectators wear ear plugs… which of course we don’t. Second was Dean Harrison on a Kawasaki on 0.1 second behind, third was the all time lap record holder Peter (Hickey) Hickman on a Triumph. Next up was the side car race but it was delayed due to another fatal accident involving a very experienced rider who was 52 years of age with 80 TT’s under his belt who had crashed in the last lap of the Supersport race.
The sidecar race was reasonably uneventful but some facts need to be understood … the sidecars are powered mostly by a 600cc 4 cyl. engine which is running at max revs of 15,500 revs for 70 % of the circuit pulling a sidecar with a crew of two + 40 liters of fuel and which the top units lap at close to 120 mph. The race was won at record pace by the the Birchall brothers from the Crowe brothers. You have to hear these outfits to believe the noise they make and the way the pilots control them …amazing!
Due to the late start of the sidecar race and the fact that the circuit is made up of public roads which must be open to the public at 5 pm the final Superstock race was delayed until 6:30 (due to it being at 54 degrees north the sun doesn’t set until close to 20 pm). The race winner,as predicted, was Hickey who put in a lap of 133 mph followed by the Manx man Conor Cummins and his team mate Davey Todd.
The weather and food were fine and all the back markers were cheered and clapped by the crowd and deservedly so because if you have the courage to enter and race you deserve serious credit.
I’m looking forward to tomorrow’s races which I hope to spectate from a spot further round the track. Rain is forecast in the afternoon and I can only hope it will not interfere with the fun.
06/09/2022 at 11:12 am #87265
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.
06/10/2022 at 1:11 pm #87586
June 9 – from Bill Penney
No racing today due to clouds over the mountain, initially, followed by typical island drizzle which guaranteed cancellation.
So had a lazy day during which our hostess took us for tour around some less touristy parts of the island one of which was a prehistoric gravesite at the southern most part of the island. Imagine steady soft rain, a steady wind off the Irish Sea and about 50 bikers who had got there before us! She then drove us to Castletown the old capital of the island from whence we took an ancient steam train back to Port Erin our home base.
We’re told racing is on tomorrow so must get to bed… early start.
06/12/2022 at 8:25 pm #87623
June 10 – from Bill Penney
Confirmation overnight that the roads would be closed at 10am followed by a 2 lap Supersport race at 10:45 to be followed by a 2 lap sidecar race at 12 and the main event of the week, the Senior TT at 2:15.
Once more Andrew and I chose to view the racing at Ballacrane as it was really close to the riders, offered food and drink and most importantly, toilets. I had brought a family back from the circuit on Wednesday and offered to pick them up Friday morning in Port Erin so that’s what I did in my weenie little Suzuki Celerio while Andrew rode his Yamaha R1.
The sky was blue, the sun was shining and on cue at 10:48 the first of the 600’s ridden by Dean Harrison screamed into view quick shifting down through 4 gears to take the 90 degree bend at about 70 mph. Rider #6 Michael Dunlop, who won Monday’s race and set a new lap record, had already passed the rider who started 10 seconds ahead of him, was setting a fearsome pace and by the end of the 1st lap was leading the race by over a second from Peter Hickman on the 765cc Triumph followed by Harrison. Dunlop went on to win the race with Hickman and Harrison in 2nd and 3rd to grab his 21st TT victory. This was the first year that Hickman had ridden the 765 and everyone agreed that with time and engine development he could be in contention next year for a class victory.
Next up the 2nd sidecar race which started on time was led by the Birchall brothers again but was red flagged on the 2 lap bringing the race to a close with no explanation at the time. We were advised that the Senior race was to be postponed until 4 but at 3 the heavens opened forcing a cancellation until Saturday. I was duly not happy as my flight back to London was scheduled for Saturday morning so I would miss it.
Later that afternoon it was confirmed that tragically a sidecar outfit had crashed at the same place at the start of lap 2, where the Saturday crash had taken place, this time claiming the lives of a father and son team. The father had been racing at the island for 20 years so it was not due to novice inexperience. A full investigation will, no doubt, determine the cause of the crash.
Luckily at the airport while waiting for my flight I hooked up with some German guys who were watching the race on their phones so saw the first 3 laps anyway. Andrew, who was not to leave until Sunday texted me that our boy Hickman had won followed by Harrison and local Conor Cummins.
Can’t wait to return next year.
06/12/2022 at 8:29 pm #87625
Bill, thanks for the great reports from the Isle of Man TT. They make me feel like I am there myself, taking in the sights and sounds, the excitement and suspense.
We’re looking forward to your in-person report at our July club meeting. Safe travels!
06/13/2022 at 9:45 pm #87840JGrahamParticipant
Thanks, Bill. Many of us look forward to your return.
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