MIKE HAMMONDS TT 2023 BLOG ONE TT RACES
2023, A New Era For The TT
The Isle of Man TT, a time trial motorcycle road race along 37.73 miles of
public roads. There is nothing like it in the world, it is an event that has
been going on since 1907. Put simply it is unique.
The TT stands alone, it is the greatest of the road races and is a stark
contrast to racing on homologated short circuits. There is a new schedule
for TT 2023 with an untimed free practice session followed by qualifying
sessions throughout the week. It is more akin to a round of the BSB
Championship than a traditional TT fortnight. Does the TT need to follow the
pattern of a BSB meeting or should tradition count for something?
The Saturday evening practice session has been scrapped with the newcomers
controlled laps and the free practice being scheduled for Monday morning.
The first qualifying session being on Monday afternoon. The next three
evenings will have more qualifying sessions with the fifth and final session
being on Friday afternoon.
Greg Lambert's most colourful awning in the paddock!!
In the past riders tended to build up their speeds throughout practice week,
concentrating on setting up their bikes and gaining course knowledge with
each session. In the pre transponder days there was a lot of foxing going on
with riders doing Ballacraine to Ballacraine laps to hide their true lap
speeds. These days, with transponders and GPS, the sector times are
transparent leaving no opportunity to hide lap times.
For safety reasons the grid sizes have been reduced to 50 starters for the
Superbike and Superstock races and 60 for the Supersport and Supertwin
races. The Sidecar entry of only 33 machines will not be an issue. Another
change brought in this year is that the bikes will be set off singularly for
the qualifying sessions and not in pairs, again for safety reasons. I also
wonder if it is to space out the riders to increase the track activity with
so few riders now on the grid.
Five solo newcomers and four sidecar newcomers took part in the newcomer
controlled siting lap on Monday morning. The opening day of TT 2023 being a
double day session with untimed free practice in the morning and the
qualifying timed session in the afternoon. Sadly for #32 Chris Schofield and
Dave Ryder they crashed their 600 cc Baker Honda at May Hill on their
controlled lap and sustained injuries that ended their TT campaign.
#33 Southern Ireland newcomers Derek Lynch & Anthony McDonnell, E600cc DMR
Suzukiclipse Racing / Wright Stickers
The untimed morning session lacked the fervour of the usual first practice.
The Supersport and Supertwin machines were first out for a 40 minute stint
followed by the Superbikes and Superstock classes. Last out for a one lap
session were the sidecars. In truth the morning sessions all felt a bit flat
with a lack of track activity.
The glorious weekend weather hadn't gone away and it was another warm and
sunny day. One man who took full advantage of the conditions was Michael
Dunlop, he completed 9 laps throughout the day, probably the first rider to
do so in the modern era if not ever.
Dunlop certainly wasn't hanging around, he finished the day topping he
leaderboard in all four solo classes. He unofficially broke the Supertwin
lap record with a lap of 122.907mph in a time of 18 minutes 25.127 seconds
riding his MD Racing Paton S1-R machine. It was an impressive performance by
the Ballymoney man. There were 6 laps that were over 130mph, in the
Superbike class, two each by Michael Dunlop, Dean Harrison and Peter
Hickman. Michael Dunlop also achieved over 130 mph MD Racing Fireblade. The
fastest newcomer of the night was Macau Grand Prix winner Erno Kostamo, BMW
S1000RR K67 38 Motorsports Syntainics, who lapped at 115.468mph.
#60 Four time World Endurance Champion Matthieu Lagrive, Optimark Road
Racing 1000cc Yamaha
#61: Newcomer and Macau Grand Prix winner Erno Kostamo, 38 Motorsports
Syntainics 1000cc BMW, at the Gooseneck
Maria Costello MBE came off her Galgorm / FHO 650cc Kawasaki at Ballaugh
Bridge after being clipped by Forest Dunne. Concussion protocols mean that
she is now out of the TT. Such a shame for her, her team and Colin Smyth,
her sidecar passenger.
In total 224 solo qualifying laps were completed which equates to seeing a
bike once every 22.8 seconds. 32 sidecar laps were completed but only 22
crews ventured out. The fastest newcomer being ex-passenger now turned
driver Daryl Gibson with Tom Christie in the chair. They took their GDM
Maintenance and Fabrications Ltd 600cc Suzuki CES round at 107.497mph. The
quickest crew of the afternoon were Pete Founds & Jevan Walmsley, FHO
Motorsport LCR Honda, at 117.431mph.