The Big Bikes were out in Force

I watched the ITV4 TT programme 135 last night, if you haven't seen it try and get it on catch up. It is all about last year's phenomenal Senior TT, based around Dean Harrison and Peter Hickman,and that astonishing final lap of 135.452mph by Peter. The race was remarkable, not only for their performances but also that of Connor Cummins who averaged over 129 mph in finishing third. Harrison and Hickman eloquently explain their strategy throughout the race explaining how it changed throughout the race.It is fascinating to watch.

Radio TT, 'The Best Biking Station in the World' is no more, it is now called 'Isle of Man TT Radio'. The traditional morning chat show that Charlie Williams once hosted and then latterly Chris Kinley has been axed and replaced by a late afternoon show. Time will tell if this is a good move.

Tuesday morning is spent up at the Grandstand where I met up with Graham Bean (ex editor of the TTSC Magazine), Kevin Quirk from the Hailwood Foundation and Des Connor ex MGP rider. Des has just signed up the parade lap at the Festival of Motorcycling in August, the ride is primarily only for ex racers. Last year it cost £250 to enter and this year it is £300, it is not cheap to do! Kevin had a serious operation at the back end of last year and is still on the road to recovery. You cannot keep a good man down, he has walked to the Grandstand to check that the cafe is running smoothly.

Later in the afternoon I am delighted to bump into Ivan Linten who was in the paddock. He looked really well but is still suffering the after effects of last years S100 crash. He has no desire to race again even if he does recover completely.

I meet up with Graham and we watch the practices from the pit wall. It is interesting watching the build up and how the seeded riders line their bikes up on the Glencrutchery Road. Some of the riders are chatting and engaging, others are in the zone and stay in their own little bubbles. Practice is delayed by 16 minutes to let an ambulance onto the course in Ramsey.

Unlike the race where riders are set off singularly, in practice they are set off in pairs. First away are James Hillier on his Superstock Kawasaki and Michael Rutter on his Superbike, then came the Honda pair of Davo Johnson (Superstock) and Ian Hutchinson (Superbike). The rest of the field stream off in pairs, the two Chris's Kinley and Palmer are describing the action to the radio listeners.


Gary Johnsone and Michel Rutter sharing a joke just before heading down the Glencrutchery Road 


Iven Linten watches from the pit wall before going up into the Control Tower to watch the rest of the session.

You can hear the roar of the bikes as they exit Governors Bridge and scream along the
Glencrutchery road. Some go straight through, others stick a leg out denoting that they are pulling in. The speed is venominal as they go passed, those taking an inside line create a draft that blows onto the watching crowd on the pit wall, it is exhilarating.

Peter Hickman's superbike encounters some problems so he is quickly back to the Grandstand to take out his supersport machine. It is a precarious business entering the course whilst the session is running. The riders are released at the top end of the pits, an official holds the rider until he gets a signal that the road is clear and then he lets the rider go, A mistake here could be disastrous with bikes passing at over 150 mph.

The solo session comes to an end with Dean Harrison topping the Superbike times with a lap of 17 minutes 28.6 seconds, 129.53 mph. He was also top of the Superstocks with a speed of 129.33 mph, Peter Hickman was ahead in the Supersport class at 123.91 mph which was shy of Harrisons 126.09 mph rom Sunday. Newcomer Lukas Maurer was 56th fastest in the Superbikes lapping at 114.50 mph .


Dean Harrison, Silicone Enginee`ring Kawasaki, starting practice.

In the Supersport, fellow mph, newcomers were 30th Raymond Casey at 114.74mph, David Datzer at 106.88 mph and Jonathan Goetschy at 106.58 mph. There were a few spills reported including Hutchy who was apparently off at the 11th milestone but thankfully okay.
The sidecar practice was delayed by 7 minutes due to the clearing up process after one of the accidents. John Holden and Lee Cain were the fastest of the night, taking their Silicone Engineering / Barnes Racing Honda round at 114.99 mph.The performance of the evening, however, was from the newcomer all manx crew of Ryan and Callum Crowe (Haven Homes Triumph). Completing their first ever timed lap around the Mountain Course they lapped in a time 20 minutes 37.53 seconds, an average speed of 109.76 mph, a fantastic performance. Maria Costello and Julie Canipa (Frog Property Development Ltd LCR) were delighted with their fastest lap of 99.37 mph.

John Hardie / Scott Hardie, AWB Engineering Honda, completing their 105.14 mph lap

It was an excellent practice session and with the poor weather prospects over the next couple of days it will have been invaluable for all concerned. A speedy recovery to all who were involved in tonight's incidents.

Photographs by Mike Hammonds

Mike Hammonds