Archive for April, 2011

TT ROUND-UP 30/4/11

Posted: April 30, 2011 in Uncategorized

Top dog this week is Cameron Donald. Cam entered 10 races at Bishopscourt and Kirkistown over the Easter holiday and won all 10. Clearly he didn’t need much time to acclimatise to his new team for 2011, riding Hondas for Wilson Craig. Cam is one of many TT names riding at Cookstown this weekend where his progress will be reported by, among others, my Manx Radio colleague Chris Kinley.

Big mention for Michael Rutter – 6th and 7th in the two Superbike races at Brands Hatch on Monday on his Rapid Solicitors-Bathams Ducati and he goes to Oulton Park this weekend for his 350th BSB start, a phenomenal achievement.

The TT Supporters Club Magazine is safely off the grid. The summer edition has just arrived and it seems to have more good content than ever. There’s a generous quota of sidecar articles this time, which is perfect timing because I’m just completing my preparation for the sidecar commentaries. There was only one of the new crews that I was struggling to find information about, namely Remy Guignard and Frederique Poux who are among several French crews this year. Thanks to the TTSC mag and its French contributor Jean-Michel Prudon I now know that the passenger Frederique is not male as I had wrongly assumed! 

Incidentally, any teams who want to put information my way are more than welcome to email me at c.lambertmedia@gmail.com.    

Jenny Tinmouth’s much-anticipated BSB debut at Brands didn’t happen because of problems with the bike. Jenny and the Aprilia will now go at Oulton Park.

Bumped into Paul Owen outside one of his favourite watering holes in Llangollen on Easter Day. The word is that Paul’s 600 machine is purring but the superbike still needs some work. I can report that Paul was purring too so things are looking good as we head into May.

SIDECARS FLOCK BACK

Posted: April 26, 2011 in Uncategorized

Sidecar action 2010: Rob Handcock and Mike Aylott. Pic: CL

Whether it’s the Mountain Course centenary  or that racers are finding ways to deal with rising costs, this year’s TT sees a good number of familiar faces returning to the sidecar grid. Eddy Wright competes for the first time since 2007 and this year he has his 18-year-old stepdaughter Vicky Cooke in the chair. It’s obviously going to be a big challenge for Vicky but she is very motivated and along with Eddy won the Best Sidecar Racers award from the Classic Racing Motorcycle Club last year. Ireland-born Manx resident Joe Newton has been sucked back into the TT circus – Joe raced in 1995 and 1996 and now has his 21-year-old son Joseph Junior in the chair. Also returning after just one year’s absence is Wiltshire’s Andy King who was in great form at Cadwell this month, along with his new passenger Kenny Cole. Scotsman Alan Couper is another on the comeback trail, after a seven-year absence. 

After years of passengering Pete Alton is taking on the mantle of driver this time. This will be quite a comeback after Pete and his then pilot Dean Banks crashed out of Race 2 on the final lap last year. Pete is best known for his partnership with Roger Stockton which brought them several top-10 finishes. Pete will be aboard a Baker Honda with newcomer David Beattie in the chair. Dean will also be competing this year.

Matt Sayle entered TT 2011 but recently announced his retirement from the sport.

TT ROUND-UP 22/4/11

Posted: April 22, 2011 in Uncategorized

Sandor Bitter with Ryan. Photo: Stephen Davison, Pacemaker Press International

It’s been a good week for Ryan Farquhar. Ryan dominated the Ian Watson Spring Meeting at Scarborough with seven wins and then on Tuesday announced that experienced Hungarian Sandor Bitter has joined his KMR team for the roads this summer, riding a Superstock Kawasaki ZX10.

Thanks to Simon Crellin in the TT media centre for sending me the vital info I need to start preparing in detail for this year’s commentary stint. The work is already in progress.

Kenny Howles returns to the TT this year, the sidecar veteran having announced in 2009 that that would be his final TT but only managing to stay away for one year! Kenny, now 60 with 21 top-10 finishes, has newcomer Craig Kinsella in the chair. Dougie Wright is also back on the grid having been missing for the last two years. Good to see Doug going again, his 6th place in only his second year in 2008 was a great achievement.

This has also been the week in which TT3D Closer to the Edge was launched. As previously posted, it is a huge success and a brilliant achievement. One thing that puzzles me: considering the prominent role of Manx Radio’s commentators in the movie, how come Manx Radio isn’t making a big deal of it on its website? It has covered the film with news reports but I’d expect it to go big on its home page with all sorts of links, video, audio, bells and whistles. Instead, not a word!

Final note for this week. At the TT Media Launch on Tuesday evening it was announced that the TT is worth £20 million per year to the IoM economy. That’s a big number.

TT’S GLAMOUR LAUNCH

Posted: April 20, 2011 in Uncategorized

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The girls refused to go home until they had their photo taken with me…
Good event at the Villa. Guillaume deserves a replica already for teaming up with Guy and the TAS lads. Mark Miller let slip that Michael Rutter will ride TT ZERo. Hutchy related how he nearly strangled the surgeon who said he’d have to have leg amputated. McGuinness looked confident and determined.

TT 3D FILM A TRIUMPH

Posted: April 19, 2011 in Uncategorized

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Closer to the Edge is the best exploration of the psyche of the extreme sportsman that I have encountered, in any medium. It is many other things as well but that is my first reaction after watching the Manx premiere in Douglas last night. Many people have tried to get under the skin of the top sports star – two of the best I’ve encountered have been books, one by Michael Mewshaw on the US tennis circuit and one by John Feinstein on golf – but this movie scores because it takes us right to the heart of the world’s least forgiving sport. There is no way back from a mistake at the TT as the film dramatically shows. Why men and women race despite the risks is something which baffles most sane observers and the film’s great achievement is to help us comprehend the incomprehensible. Producer Steve Christian and director Richard de Aragues do so by establising an amazing bond of trust with their subjects – the top riders – and getting them to open up, often at the most stressful times.

Closer to the Edge is also a rattling good story with all the prime ingredients – the cool pro, the wayward maverick, the local hero, the history-blasting winner (that’s McGuinness, Martin, Cummins and Hutchinson in that order).

It also demonstrates an awe-inspiring depth of humanity as Bridget Dobbs talks with affection and clarity of the race which last June claimed the life of her husband Paul.

The 3D element does not send chunks of broken bikes hurtling over the heads of the audience. It is used in a restrained but highly effective mode to sharpen the pictures, add depth, and keep our attention riveted to the screen.

On a personal level it was a thrill for me to be invited to play a part in the formalites of the Manx premiere at the Palace cinema. I was honoured to join the line of people who were formally introduced to the new Lt Governor of the IOM Adam Wood – the line was McGuinness, Conor, Michael Dunlop, Guy Martin, Keith Amor, Bridget and yours truly! Not bad company. Then I said a few words on stage to set the scene for the film, and conducted brief interviews with the aforementioned stars – quite a challenge really when my instructions were not to mention anything which might give the game away as to what happens in the film, not that many in that audience wouldn’t have known it all already. A good night ended with an equally good session in Colours.

Watching the 1935 George Formby classic No Limit about the TT has always been an essential part of the education of every TT fan. Closer to the Edge is now up there alongside it – a absolute must-see, with the significant advantage that the characters are not actors and the plot is not fiction. And the riders don’t sing.

TT ROUND-UP 16/4/11

Posted: April 15, 2011 in Uncategorized

The big buzz this week has been about the 3D TT movie. First up was the Belfast premiere where Eddie Floyd of Fireblade Ministries was among the audience and texted to say he was impressed. Then came the London premiere with No1 TT fan Ian Huntly present – and another very positive reaction. Check out interviews from the London screening and excerpts from the film here.  Reviews on the blogs and websites have likewise been good, all of which makes it very frustrating not to have actually seen it yet! That will be remedied on Monday when I am due to introduce the Manx premiere to an audience which will include the island’s new Governor. I hope he’s ready for this!

Murray meets McGuinness. Pic: IoM TT press office

I’ve also been invited to be MC at a black-tie dinner to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Mountain Course on the evening of Senior raceday in June, so that’s another big event to look forward to. I must admit it is fantastic to be asked to play a prominent role at gatherings like this. This one will be attended by hallowed names like Agostini, Phil Read, John McGuinness, Ian Hutchinson and Murray Walker. There will be 180 guests each paying £180 – maybe they should have asked Sid Waddell to do the announcements! 

On the track, it’s been a week of final preparation. The 24-hour Bol d’Or takes place at Magny Cours this weekend and it’ll have more significance than usual for the TT community as the Honda TT Legends team makes its competitive debut – McGuinness, Plater and Amor qualified seventh yesterday and now get to show what they can really do. First target will be to do better than the local French Honda team which is one place ahead of them on the grid. Also this weekend a host of familiar names will be in action at the Ian Watson meeting at Scarborough – good luck to all, including Phil Edge dealing with the media agenda.

Another sponsorship has been announced. The TT Zero race will be sponsored by SES, a Manx-based telecom and satellite systems company.

And looking ahead to late August, expect to see Northern Ireland rider William Cowden making his MGP debut after signing for Paul Rennie’s PRF squad this week. This follows an impressive showing at the Southern 100 last summer.

MURRAY WALKER ON RADIO TT

Posted: April 13, 2011 in Uncategorized

The TT press office has announced that Murray Walker is going to commentate on Radio TT on the parade lap to mark the centenary of the Mountain Course.  This is terrific news. Murray is such a passionate supporter of the TT and always pays tribute to the event and motorbike racing in general. It will add a lot to have him as part of our line-up on the big day. I just hope I get the chance to meet him – I was gutted not to when he was over for the 2007 centenary. Meanwhile MotoGP star Nicky Hayden is another big name to announce he’ll be on the island for TT 2011.