Old blogs from the MGP - re-hosted from MySpace

Manx Grand Prix 2007 - Days Fourteen & Fifteen

  09/01/07 15:06, by , Categories: MGP 2007

A sour end to a great fortnight...

Friday: Senior Race Day
The morning dawned overcast with low cloud, hanging across the mountain.   We all knew a prompt start would be unlikely. Still, we had to get to scrutineering at our alloted time (9am), so we were up and away as usual. The first race of the day was the Lightweight (250 two strokes) and the Ultra-Lightweight (400 four strokes and 125 two strokes) - the two classes run together, with the 250s going off first.  The start was scheduled for 10:15, but the race office announced that roads would not be closing on time, and a further announcement would be made at 11am, so there was a fair amount of sitting around to be done.  Unlike Wednesday, I felt much more relaxed, as did most riders - having one race under our belt had made us all much less tense. 

At 11am the tannoy fired up, announcing that the roads would close at midday, and the first race would start at 12:45 - it at least looked as if we might race later in the afternoon.  But, more delays were called, and the Lightweight/UltraLightweight eventually got away at 1:45pm.   Conditions were good in Douglas, but the cloud looked very low over the mountain.  The leaders and midfield men managed to get their 4 laps in, but a dozen or so tailenders were caught by descending cloud and completed their last run over the mountain under waved yellow flags.  All reported difficult conditions, with mixed wet patches, slippery white lines and swirling fog.

So, the Senior runners all set about putting intermediate tyres in their bikes, but with a nagging doubt that we'd not get to race. Another 30 minute delay was called, and then the Clerk of the Course came on the tannoy to say that conditions had deteriorated badly, and the race would be cancelled.

In such circumstances, the race would normally have been scheduled for the next day, but this was the last day of race week, and many marshals were booked on ferries home that night and the next day, meaning there were not enough marshals to man the course on Saturday.  So, for the first time in the history of the Manx Grand Prix, a race was abandoned.

In the evening, the presentations were to run at the Villa Marina in Douglas.  This is usually an ejoyable nigth out, with everyone in a good mood after a week's racing, but this time felt a little flat.  Still, I went on stage and got my replica for 9th place in the Junior, and had my photo taken, and then we returned to Ramsey, went in the Traff and had quite a few drinks.

Saturday
Hangover. Then I had to return the bikes to the spec which I got them from Slick (including lots of tyre swapping), and drive them up to his workshop.  This was quite fun for my dad and Ginny, as they got to see a bike being run on the dyno.  Then it was Ginny's turn to go to the airport, and little more to be done except tidy the workshop, eat, and go back down the pub.

And so, another Manx Grand Prix is over.  I had two ambitions for this year - a top ten finish, and 115mph lap.  I managed both, but secretly I had hoped for a little more.  I was on the best bikes in the paddock, I think, so I'm not sure where much extra speed will come from next year.  But, I'll think about that later. For now I'll enjoy the results I got.

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Manx Grand Prix 2007 - Day Thirteen

  08/30/07 14:57, by , Categories: MGP 2007

There was something of a hangover to be dealt with this morning...

Yesterday was brilliant, and there's loads more details to add to yesterday's blog.  The first is about my pit crew.  Mike had told me he'd sorted someone to help in the pit stop, but it was "a suprise".  I suggested that I wouldn't like suprises on race day, but he insisted.  And, low and behold, who should turn up in the paddock mid-morning but my long standing friend Rob Brock (aka RJ) who I'd not seen for years [now very sadly deceased - RIP Rob].  And, an hour or so later another mate, Bruce Rogers, turned up, having flown in from Switzerland!  So he was given overalls too.  And my pit stop was so slick - I just rode the bike to Mike, sat back while he and Rob did the fuelling (Rob on the filler cap, Mike on the fuel nozzle).  In the means time, Bruce gave me the drink bottle and removed the tear-off that I'd not managed to pull myself.  A few more gulps of drink and then I was off - perfect.

Also, my dad and Ginny had done a good job signalling from Ginger Hall.  It's not the very best place from the rider's perspective, as it is a little difficult to pick up the board as you accelerate away from Sulby Bridge, but it was very useful to know how the race was going, and to see P9 on the last lap.

After the race, as always, the atmosphere in the beer tent at the paddock was superb - everyone is in just such a good mood.  Slick was in great form, and really pleased with my 9th place, and also the fact that the bike had the fastest time of the whole field on Sulby straight - what better advert can an engine builder have than that?

The evening was great - we all (eleven of us!) went to Sarah's place (whose garage I am using as a workshop) for a big curry, and then, inevitably, to The Trafalger Hotel (aka the Traff). 

And so to today (Thursday):  After having lots of tea and a very late breakfast (cooked by RJ), I then persuaded Ginny to come for a lap of the course on Keith's CBR600 (aka the shopping bike). She thought she'd be terrified, but she adored it!  It was slightly weird riding the course at less than half racing speed.  Then I pulled the Senior bike (the 636) from the van, put it on the bench for a nut-and-bolt check after yesterday's practice lap (which was after the race; we only took it out to check the gearing, which was great - 3rd fastest bike, after two 750s, at 168mph. I did 113mph lap without really trying).  I also gave it a clean, and measured the fuel used.  Then I re-loaded the van, and everything is ready for tomorrow, Senior Race day, and the end of the racing week.

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Manx Grand Prix 2007 - Day Twelve - Junior Race

  08/29/07 14:53, by , Categories: MGP 2007

I may have to add to this later, as it's late and I've been drinking...

Junior Race today - I was extra fired up because the race officials had refused to change my start number from 29 to something higher.  I demonstrated this by completely fluffing the start, and chasing number 30 down Brayhill.  I was soon past him on the run up Ballahutchin, and then set about chasing everyone else down.  I was slightly disappointed at how slowly they were coming towards me, but I think I still overtook 7 people (or so) on the first lap.

The second lap was a bit less dramatic.  My signallers were at Ginger Hall, and they hung the board out with P12 on it.  This was not good enough!  I wanted to be in the top ten! 

The pit stop went very smoothly, and then it was two more laps.  I was still catching and overtaking people, and my pit board said P9 on lap 4.  I got home, and 9th place was confirmed.  So we went to the beer tent.  And then back to Ramsey.  And then to the pub.

Full results here: http://www.manxgrandprix.org/Mountain-Course-Database/Events/Races.aspx?meet_code=MGP07&race_seq=6 ...ignore the mis-spelling of my surname...

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Manx Grand Prix 2007 - Day Eleven

  08/28/07 14:51, by , Categories: MGP 2007

Very little to do today, which is good (cos it means that everything is sorted), but bad (cos there's little to think about except the race tomorrow).

I dropped a pair of wheels at Paul Dedman's for fresh rubber, and while they were being fitted I dropped the fitted wheels out, checked the brake pads, chain, nuts, bolts, etc.  I also splashed yet more fibreglass over the fresh hole in the bellypan after yesterday's practice, and, as I was feeling saucy, sprayed some black paint over the fresh 'glass.

By then it was time to get the wheels back from Paul Dedman, fit them to the bike, stand back, and admire the bike.  Then I dashed down to the airport to meet my Dad, who was flying in for a few days to watch the races.

On return to Ramsey we picked up Ginny, and went to scout out a potential signalling point at Ginger Hall.  This seemed ideal, so we then went and found the chief marshal for the sector, who happens to run the Sulby Hotel just down the road.  He was very happy for us to hang a board over the bales at Ginger Hall, and made a note to pass on the info to the marshals there.  So, while we were there, we stopped for a drink.

We then headed back, loaded the van, and....er, that's it.  We're about to eat, and then try and sleep.  Tomorrows the day.

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manx grand prix 2007 - Days Nine & Ten

  08/27/07 14:49, by , Categories: MGP 2007

(Didn't get chance to write this yesterday)

Sunday:   Slick wanted the 600 back on the dyno to double check it, so we took it up there, and he fine-tuned the fuelling and ignition.  It still made 127bhp, but should be very safe now.  Then I took it to my workshop, and gave both bikes a full 'nut and bolt' check, and just made sure everything was just right.

In the evening we went to the TT Marshals Association supper, which is a big event put on for all the marshals running the course.  It takes a minimum of 575 people to man the course, and these people give their time completely freely; as racers we know that we wouldn't be out there riding without them.  After the meal there's a "rider's forum" where the marshals can ask us questions; I was quite proud to be invited into this.  It was all quite good fun and good-natured (questions like : "Do you have sex during race week?").

Monday:  We had an extra practice scheduled after the racing today, as we'd lost several sessions to the weather last week. I was pretty focused on this, because I wanted to put in a good time to try and justify getting bumped up the race order.  We had to be over to be scrut'd at 10am, so the whole day was spent in the paddock.  This was a little bit of a shame, because I like watching the races, and Monday is the only day I get chance; watching from the paddock means you just see people race down the start/finish straight.  But, it was a good race (on the radio), and a chap I know fairly well, Justin Croft, was third in the Newcomers race, so I was really pleased for him.

The Senior Classic (500cc) was run in the afternoon, and was also quite interesting.  The two Paton's were really fast, and Ryan Farquhar was pretty unbeatable, winning by around 40 seconds. 

Then it was time for our practice session.  Unlike the rest of the week, when the top 30 seeded riders get out first, today was a real melee to get onto the road.  I was pretty annoyed by this, as I wanted a clear track, but everybody else was thinking the same - this was the last chance to make an impression.  I ended up with at least 30 people in front of me, if not more, which certainly fired me up!  I beat my starting partner off the line, and set about going fast.  Which seemed to work, as I started catching people straight away.  While this was quite fun, I knew it was holding me up - on the run up Creg Willys Hill I was shouting "get out of the way!" at the guy in front of me.  I think I passed more than 10 people on the lap, including my mate Keith, just before Ramsey. 

I got back to the Grandstand with a big grin on my face - the bike was fast, handled pretty well, and I'd been having great fun.  Mike had timed me at well under 20 minutes, and we went and checked the official time in the race office (19:48; 114mph).  I know I'd lost a good 10 seconds with traffic, if not 20, which puts me on a decent 115/116 pace.  Also, my bike was the fastest 600 down Sulby Straight at 167.8mph!  And there were only two 750s faster!  I phoned Slick and congratulated him on building the fastest 600 in the field. 

And, to put the icing on the cake, I was 5th fastest overall.  Very, very pleased about this - I needed to make a case for getting my start number moved up, and I couldn't have done a better job.

[ The domain that used to have the timing results, www.iommgp.com is now defunct]

Food now, then perhaps a drink or two

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