The Club's new Yorkshire Rep, Phil Harvey is typical of many road racers whose season has been devastated by the Foot and Mouth crisis - "2001 revolved around the Cookstown 100, NW 200, the TT and the UGP with a few short circuit meetings thrown in to keep myself tuned in, and so with the cancellation of three of my main events some of the sponsorship I had managed to secure was lost. During the pre-season I purchased a CBR 400 for the big road races, spending even more money to make it into race spec. After the cancellation of the early races a deal was made to invest even more money into it in readiness for the 2002 season. Not a wise move, as the 400s are now to be raced alongside my main class, the 125, at next year's TT! People needed their money back so the machine was sold at a considerable loss."
How did Phil feel when that dreaded announcement was finally made? "My reaction to the cancellation was one of disbelief. During the early stages of the crisis I was sure the Races would be called off, but the longer the verdict was delayed the more I thought they would go ahead and so we kept spending money on our preparations." Like so many of us, Phil is concerned at the handling of the whole issue, he explains, "I agreed with the cancellation in principle from the angle of 'lets sacrifice one TT and have full Manx cooperation for many years to come'. My feeling was that the Manx Government should have encouraged essential journeys only; this did not prove to be the case - I visited the Island in what would have been Practice Week and did the tourist bit with my family. I was amazed to find almost free access to virtually everywhere apart from stopping around the circuit! I returned home asking myself - why cancel the TT Races and then agree to have a festival and invite the spectators, who surely pose the biggest risk?"
|One contentious issue followed another as far as 29 year old,
Yorkshireman, Phil was concerned when the Organisers announced the 2002 race programme - how did he feel about the dropping of the Singles Class and the merging of the 250 and 600 machines? "It must be a real disaster for those who compete in the Singles race only; I do not believe another production race should replace a competitive 250 lightweight class. It will do nothing more than raise a few quid for the manufacturers! Having 250 GP machines up against race prepared 600 models is unfair on the former, as the power of the bigger bikes will win the day, even though the 250s might handle better. If a combined race was to be held the 250s would die off as many riders would only manage a mid-field placing no matter how hard they rode - they would win little prize money, many would become dispirited. The spectators would miss out on the sweet sounds of two strokes on full song".
Phil, a Business Development Manager for Timloc Building Products - he negotiates with large house constructors, giving technical advice on a range of plastic building products - started racing on a 125 in 1990 when he was 18 and old enough to secure a bank loan. He bought a brand new 1989 RS 125 from Padgetts which took many months to pay off and included a part-exchange deal involving his car, making his journey to work very difficult. What is the highlight of his career so far? "My best ever TT finish was 10th, but the performance that gives me the most pleasure was finishing 12th in the 125 TT of 1996. In only my second year of competition - I have never raced in the MGP - I was originally refused an entry on the grounds of being 'too slow'; I started next to last but was thrilled to overtake more than 20 others in dreadful riding conditions. 1999 saw Phil receive a trophy at the TT - the Club Team Award in the 125cc Race representing the TTSC along with Trevor Ritchie and Michael Wilcox. Phil is modest about his achievements - he has lapped all the major road circuits well in excess of 100mph, secured many top 15 results in a competitive British Championship of 1997 on a tired RS 125, and has raced successfully alongside the giants of the smallest capacity class - Lougher, Dunlop and Palmer - at Scarborough. The main achievement, as he says "is some safe and memorable riding at the TT; I just wish I could gain more speed to achieve a dream result of a rostrum position. Certainly more money would help me realise my dream"
What of the TT's future? "I can see that the Organisers are trying to boost entries, and everyone wants to race a 600 based or production machine, but how many are really learning the art and craft of TT racing? As a 125 competitor, I see accidents waiting to happen on every practice lap. Novice riders are on powerful 600 and production type machinery with massive power and no idea of a proper racing line or where they are actually going. They nail the throttle and go flat out on the straight bits, but are nearly thrown over the bars on the tighter sections. The seasoned 125 riders squeeze past them on the corners when they are tight on the brakes and so they use their greater power to blast past on the straights and then slam on the brakes just where they shouldn't. When they return to the Grandstand they are excited and praised for achieving a 100mph lap, but what have they learnt? - very little! Why not sit on the tail of a fast 125 rider on the straights and try to keep up on the corners - they would still do a 100mph lap and look how fast he could be if he carried his new corner speed through on to the straight. Perhaps all novice riders should race on the small capacity machines until they prove their skill and knowledge. This, in turn, would make the Ultra-lightweight into a one-class race. Of course this would never happen because entries would be down on the larger capacity machines for newcomers".
Phil would also like to see changes in timing methods - "why can't transponders and split time check points be introduced to prevent time irregularities?" - and travel money increases, particularly for single machine entrants. He is pleased that viewing facilities are being improved for the disabled and hopes this will be a forerunner for improved family viewing areas, perhaps even live TV points to help fill the long wait for a competitor to come around
Despite being strapped for cash, Phil aims to be back in the Island for TT 2002, aiming to fulfil his dream of a rostrum position. We thank him for all the assistance in writing this article and wish him well in his new venture, along with wife, Michelle, as TTSC Rep for the Yorkshire area. Phil and Michelle can be contacted on 01405 831070; club nights are held on the second Tuesday of every month at the Rawcliffe Bridge Hotel, Rawcliffe, near Goole.