Archive for May, 2010

Far be it from me to describe Brian Rostron as an old warhorse – warhorse without the ‘old’  is probably as far as I can go – but the former TT sidecar driver has definitely got the scent of battle in his nostrils again. Brian first raced the TT in 1977, and he is the 8th-most prolific driver in TT history with 50 starts before he retired in 2003.  Now he is back – not as a competitor but as an entrant who is supplying his Baker Yamaha outfit for World Championship contender Gary Knight.  I met Gary and his team this evening at Brian’s house where he and his wife Anne put on a brilliant spread for a gathering of TT folk – competitors, engineers, supporters and a radio commentator. Gary’s team is the embodiment of the lifeblood of motorbike racing. He used to chair for his dad Eric, now his own son Dan is in the chair for him. All three generations were at Brian’s along with mum Iris. From what I could gather it was young Dan who was the prime mover in getting them over here for their first taste of the TT – they han’t set foot on the island until the press launch a couple of months ago.  Good luck to them and Brian whose Dialled In Racing colours will make a welcome return to the Mountain Course. Meanwhile Brian himself returns to the course in the Parade Lap ahead of the Senior TT on June 11.

I also got the lowdown on Ian Pattinson from the man himself. Ian (best TT finish 8th in the 2007 Superstock) was in severe danger of being left high and dry as late as last week.  His old backer Martin Bullock has stepped down from the TT, a plan to source an MV Agusta for him failed, and it looked like his TT days were over. Then he got a call from Russell Benney, head of the Phase One Endurance team and all of a sudden his trip to the island was back on. So now Ian is all set to ride some superbly-prepared Yamahas and another chapter of TT history is about to unfold.

Today was a lovely day on the island so let’s hope for more of the same as we head off to Billown for a full day of ClaSsic racing, followed by TT practice on the Mountain Course after 6pm.

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DRAMATIC START AT BILLOWN

Posted: May 29, 2010 in Uncategorized

Bill Swallow and the Lawton Aermacchi

The riders triumphed over the conditions at Billown this afternoon. It was not great weatherwise, drizzly overhead, damp on the track, and not very warm either. Despite that we had a cracking race to start the 2010 TT Festival. The Singles Classic Race gave us plenty of drama with the lead changing hands four times before Chris Palmer celebrated his return after a year off by piloting the Ripley Land AJS to victory over the Ducati of Rich Hawkins. At the end of lap 3 the two of them were side by side as they thundered past my commentary position, great spectacle and good racing. Mike Hose took third from Allan Brew. That was in the 350cc class, and there was another fabulous story developing in the 250 class where victory went to Ted Fenwick (Ducati) at the age of 82!  The politicians are planning to drive up the retirement age but I don’t think they’ll ever catch up with Ted.

In the paddock I spoke to Bill Swallow who was preparing his famous Aermacchi for action  – this is the bike which was second to Agostini in the TT and was then ridden to five consecutive Manx Junior Classic wins by Bill’s late brother Richard. Bill needs one more win to equal Bob Heath’s record of 15 at the pre-TT Classic. Bill’s son Chris has been a racing rival in recent years but Chris isn’t here this year – he’s in New Zealand.  Also in the paddock I saw Martin Bullock who has reinvented his sporting connections having disbanded the MBR motorbike team after the MGP last year – Martin is still involved, now under the banner of Martin Bullock Manxsport which will see him potentially broadening the impressive support he gives to sports other than motorbikes, and he will have a team at this year’s MGP. Not the TT though. He has closed that chapter. Mark Parrett isn’t competing in the TT either this year but he’s over here in readiness for Monday’s action at Billown. It’s a shame that Mark won’t be at the TT – seems that the financial arrangements just didn’t stack up; it costs these guys a lot of  money to come here and last year injury cost Mark several weeks work. He took a fine 11th place in the Senior last year and it’d have been good to see him trying to better that.

I’m in the TT Media Centre at the moment waiting to see if any practice will take place. It’s still damp and misty. Among other bits of news Ian Pattinson won’t be riding the MV Agusta after all – he’s now on an R1 in the Superbike and Senior races. And in the TTZero, two teams have withdrawn, Electric Motorsport and Imperial College, which means that Ian Mackman and Maria Costello have missed out on their rides.

RADIO TT BRIEFING

Posted: May 28, 2010 in Uncategorized

Briefing for the Manx Radio TT team took place at the Villa Marina. Anthony Pugh, Head of Everything, says the TT course is looking better than ever. The bean counters are chuffed because advertising and sponsorship are very healthy this year. That’s good news all round because none of us would be in a job otherwise. More good news is that race commentaries will be available free this year – people had to pay to listen online last year. This time just go to www.manxradio.com and we will be waiting for you. Another really positive move is that Radio TT will be available on FM in the Douglas area. Up to now radio listeners on the island catch us on 1368AM. That will still be there but Manx Radio has acquired a temporary licence to use 87.9FM as well. Health Warning: if you don’t quite hit it right you’ll get Chris Evans.

The new commentator to replace Maurice Mawdsley at Glen Helen will be announced on Radio TT at 8am on Tuesday.

More good news is that the media centre has extended its operational hours this year – it’ll be open from 10am to 10pm virtually every day; it was pretty frustrating in the past to find the place was often closed till 4pm. The media is a 24/7 world and this is another welcome development.

Great to catch up with the rest of the team. On air tomorrow from Billown for the Blackfords Pre TT Classic; bring it on.

Calm before the storm: Douglas Bay this evening

WE’RE GOOD TO GO

Posted: May 27, 2010 in Uncategorized

Bags almost packed, boxes brimming with books, files, headphones, binoculars, stopwatches, magical sorethroat lube, press releases, toaster, teasmade and cuddly toy…can only mean one thing….we’re on the ferry in the morning!

Firemen are usually required to remove hazardous objects from buildings but as these scandalous pictures reveal, in Laxey the IOM Fire Service is doing exactly the opposite. Caught in the act – the island’s finest moving a Gilera Four INTO Laxey Woollen Mills!  

It’s a case of a fire brigade with a different kind of fire engine, but this one is living history, being a replica of the winning machine from the 1957 Senior TT. It is a replica of the bike ridden to victory by Bob McIntyre on the occasion of the first 100mph lap.

The Gilera is on display at a new photographic exhibition being staged at the Woollen Mills this year, put together by Bill Snelling. A film of McIntyre’s historic victory will also be shown.  Whether these snaps of the gallant Laxey crew will also be featured hasn’t yet been revealed.

Another late night last night printing off my data on the TT solos. When I started this job in 2004 I could easily fit all my information on each competitor onto one sheet of A4 each. Now the likes of John McGuinness, Guy Martin and Ryan Farquhar require three sides of A4. And as for Edgar Jessop…! What sort of info do I keep? Previous results obviously but also little bits and pieces like the date John received the Freedom of Lancaster, what the initials of Ryan’s race team stand for, how tall Conor Cummings is and (I might well need this this year) which Manxmen have previously won a TT.  I also printed off my race sheets and lap charts and it was again nearly midnight when the printer stopped.  Good chat on the phone with Maurice Mawdsley today, picking up some tips for the Pre TT Classic at Billown on Saturday. For the first time in over 30 years Maurice will be able to pick and choose his vantage points for the races. So keep an eye open for him. Or maybe that should be an ear. You may not recognise him by sight – but you will as soon as he speaks!

SIDECAR STATS SORTED

Posted: May 24, 2010 in Uncategorized

It’s gone midnight and I’ve just finished printing off my competitor sheets for  the sidecars. That’s one sheet of data for each crew, except Dave Molyneux who’s on to his second. There’s all sorts of info there, most of which will never be used but you never know who is going to be making the news so you have to be prepared. This year it’s the 30th anniversary of Brian Alflatt’s debut at the TT, in the chair for Mick Harvey, and the 20th anniversary of Brian’s debut as a driver. If that isn’t worth a commemorative hairdo I will be disappointed. Can Claude Montagnier maintain his remarkable record of 17 starts and 17 finishes?  I spotted on newcomer Matt Dix’s website that his passenger Shaun Parker is out with a broken leg and Julie Hanks-Elliott is taking over. So who is in the chair for Ruth Laidlow if Julie isn’t? Anyone know?

My sheets for the solos have all been updated and just need printing off – need a new print cartridge first. I’ve still got my race sheets and lap charts to do, plus do a bit of planning for Billown this Saturday – as well as the day job of course!