Archive for June, 2011

The Commentary Box team with Murray Walker, Senior Raceday 2011. From left: Catherine Nicol, Heike Perry, Bob Allison, Mavis Brown, Eunice Cubbon, Murray Walker, Charlie Lambert, Maurice Mawdsley, Norman Quayle. Photo by Dorothy Lambert.

THAT’S THE ‘SPIRIT’!

Posted: June 16, 2011 in Uncategorized

I’d love to be able to claim that my blog post yesterday had something to do with this but an official press release about Conor’s ‘Spirit of the Manx’ award has today been issued by the TT press office, along with this pic of Charlie Williams making the presentation. Full text of the release appears below.

Conor receives the award from Charlie Williams. Photo: iomtt.com

Conor Cummins wins 2011 PokerStars ‘Spirit of the TT’ Award
Conor Cummins has been awarded the 2011 Spirit of TT Award, following in the footsteps of the 2010 winner Paul Owen.
Local rider Conor, who lives in the North of the Island, received the award in front of a packed Grandstand after the PokerStars Senior TT Race, the blue riband event in the TT Races Calendar.
Conor received multiple injuries following an accident at the Verandah on the mountain section of the Mountain Course in the 2010 TT Races. His injuries included five broken vertebrae, multiple fractures in his left arm, nerve damage to his arm and ligament damage to his knee.
A series of rods were inserted to stabilise his spine. His left arm was completely rebuilt with two plates and 16 screws holding the multiple fractures together.
Representatives from the Isle of Man Government’s Motorsport team as well as the TT rider liaison officers Richard Quayle and John Barton judged the award.
Commenting on the award, and his battle back to fitness, Conor said:
“It’s meant everything to me to be back on the bike racing at the TT. I’ve worked really hard since the accident but I couldn’t have done it without the help and support of all my friends and family. I’d also like to thank all of my sponsors who stood by me during my recovery.”
Paul Phillips, the TT and Motorsport Manager, commented:
“Ever since Conor was injured in last year’s race he has shown incredible determination and focus to be fit for the 2011 TT Races. He has displayed the true spirit required of a TT racer and is a hugely appropriate winner of this award.”
BecsCubbon, who is responsible for PokerStars on Island sponsorship commented:
“We are delighted that the award has gone to a local Manx person and everyone at PokerStars is incredibly proud of Conor’s achievement in recovering and competing again at this year’s TT.”
 

TT double winner makes it into the media’s guide to the best of the week. Best quotes, that is. Check it out. Wonder if they heard John’s other memorable quote about the leathers and the foreskin?

 

LOOKING BACK ON TT 2011

Posted: June 15, 2011 in Uncategorized

Memories and experiences from this year’s TT are beginning to shake down, and as I look back over the fortnight the name which probably gives me most cause for celebration is that of Simon Andrews. For a newcomer to take 11th place in the Senior with a fastest lap of 125mph is amazing. The Mountain Course is no pushover and Simon put down a serious marker for the future with his efforts this year. It is the more impressive given that everything seemed to go wrong in practice week, by the end of which Simon was so disillusioned he was tweeting that he would treat the rest of the TT simply as preparation for the next BSB meeting at Knockhill. Watch for him in the future. He could make the same impact on the TT as Steve Plater.

This was a year when the TT Points Championship had some meaning after being rendered totally predicatable last year by Hutchy’s clean sweep. McGuinness was the winner but Keith Amor’s achievement in taking second place despite not winning a race showed how consistent he had been and that is what the championship is there for. I was pleased to see Ian Mackman win the Privateers Championship and repeat the comment I made in commentary, that I can’t see the logic in banning Mackman from next year’s championship because he was successful this time. The rules state that if a rider finishes in the top 10 of a race one year, he can’t qualify for the Privateers Championship the next. So long as he or she is still a privateer, whyever not? It seems bonkers to penalise a rider for his own success. Theoretically, Ian could have finished ninth in one race, not finished any of the others, not won the title, but be banned from being considered next time.

Another thing that I may as well get off my chest while I’m at it: why has Conor Cummins’ deserved award of the Spirit of the TT award received minimal coverage? If there is an official announcement on the TT website I can’t find it, and I can’t see any report on Manx Radio’s website or IOM Today. You’ll find a mention here – but a few more people should be banging the drum for Conor.

ALL CAR, NO SIDE

Posted: June 13, 2011 in Uncategorized

I like today’s TV Sport column in the Guardian by Martin Kelner. I approached it with a degree of trepidation, knowing that Martin can be scathing about TV coverage of sport, whether it’s the TV or the sport that gets up his nose. The opening paragraphs about George Formby were a little worrying, but in fact he seems impressed by both the TT and ITV4’s coverage of the races.

My TT ended on a really upbeat note – seeing Michael Dunlop rearrange the lap record at Billown. Typical Michael. He arrived as a late entry, saying that the main reason was to support the Southern 100, a club he admires. He then made his presence felt by falling off in the first practice session, unofficially breaking his elder brother’s lap record in the second, and then breaking it for real in the race which he won with ease. In doing so he gave Yamaha something to smile about, piloting the R6 to take the last chequered flag of the TT festival.

When the engines were killed at Billown the TT commentary team went off for a night out which was a brilliant way to wrap up the proceedings. Dave Christian came up with one of the best quotes of the TT during one of the raceday commentaries when he said that we would be unable to divulge the location of our dinner for fear of groupies.  We thought our cover was blown when Charlie Williams parked his van and Tim Glover parked the Manx Radio Sport car bang outside our ‘secret location.’ But strangely, the groupies still didn’t show up.

GREAT DAY, GOOD ENDING

Posted: June 11, 2011 in Uncategorized

In the end, it doesn’t seem as if the delays mattered at all. Of course, I might have felt differently if I had been stuck in a hedge all day but the over-riding feeling at the end of another mega-long TT day is that it was just great!  No-one could help the rain that caused the delays and the organisers did a good job in juggling the schedule so that we got both parades done, plus the Subaru lap and the Senior race. When Guy Martin led it looked as we would going to have a headline-grabbing story, but it was John McGuinness who stole the show in a different way. A master craftsman of his trade.

The Milestones of the Mountain parade was wonderful. Murray Walker’s commentary really helped to make it special. It was also very well organised, which isn’t usually the case with parade laps. The riders appeared in the correct order, one by one, and waited for Murray to give us the run-down, then set off. It meant the spectators in the Grandstand got proper information and the riders and machines were treated with proper respect. Up to now has, every parade lap I’ve seen around the Mountain Course has been a free-for-all with no opportunity to identifiy individual machines or give the paying public a proper service.

photo: Bob Allison

Murray came up into the commentary box which was a real buzz. I’d never met him before and I was really pleased to have the chance to do so. We chatted about the system he and his dad used to estimate when the riders would reach the various commentary points. The commentary team would met in the Sefton Hotel on the eve of the race and discuss who were the likely front runners and what speeds they were expexcted to produce. They would the calculate the probable splits and do their best to hand  over at the right time. Murray explained that the task was made harder by the starting numbers being allocated at random, so a favoured rider could well start near the back of the grid. Maurice Mawdsley also dropped by today, a very welcome visitor at any time.

The right decision was made to delay the Senior until 5.15pm. However, it shouldn’t have taken pressure from the riders to bring this about. My understanding is that John McGuinness spoke to Eddie Nelson by phone around 20 minutes before the start and only then did Eddie agree to the postponement. I also thought too much responsibility was being plaved on John’s shoulders by the riders in general. Chris Kinley interviewed several of them, and virtually all said that they would take their lead from John. I’m not saying that is a bad idea, it clearly isn’t, but one man shouldn’t be left in such an exposed position, taking such responsibility. The leading riders should form a committee which would share the responsibility for recommendations like this, or the TT Riders Association should be more pro-active.

We received a torrent of emails today. One stood out. It was from CR Gittere, the American rider who has competed over the past two years but wasn’t here this time. The email, from CR’s home in Charlotte, USA, read: “I am sitting here with a six pack of beer in the hedges outside of my house with head phones on listening to Radio TT on my iphone. My neighbours keep given me funny looks. Apparently they just don’t get it.”  Brilliant!

 

AND FOR MY NEXT TT TRICK…

Posted: June 10, 2011 in Uncategorized

Fascinating day at the TT, and we couldn’t be seeing a greater contrast from last year when all the solo races were won by the same rider as were both the sidecar races.

A new star is born: Gary Johnson. Photo: IOMTT.com

This year, every race has had a different winner and today was remarkable for many reasons, including giving us first-time winners.  First Gary Johnson romped away with the second Supersport race, then John Holden and Andy Winkle saw their dogged commitment to the TT pay off with victory in the sidecar TT. We had a TV crew from Austria in the commentary box, filming for a report on Klaus Klaffenbock. The script didn’t go according to plan,as Klaffi slowed on the final lap allowing John and Andy to take the win. The TTZero didn’t give us a new winner, but it is 13 years since Michael Rutter last topped the podium so the sense of change continued through to the end of the day.

An abiding memory will be of John Burrows pushing in to complete the race with the inaptly named Lightning bike. In this era of advance electric technology, completion of the challenge still relied on one man’s physical strength and sheer dogged determination.

I got a preview of the Milestones of the Mountains parade lap this evening when I introduced a demonstration session on the prom. Charlie Williams, Luigi Taveri, Mick Grant, Dave Roper and Nick Jefferies were among the riders, all former TT winners who have played their part in shaping this great event. The most moving for me was Nick, who represented his legendary nephew David by riding the Yamaha R1 which DJ rode when he became the first rider to crack the 125mph barrier for a lap in 2000. Nick was wearing DJ’s own leathers, which created an uncanny illusion that we were really seeing DJ in action.

The event was something of a challenge because no-one from the TT organisation was there to co-ordinate the show. It was left to me and the riders to sort it out between us at the last minute, but there was plenty of goodwill in evidence and we got it all sorted without fuss. The joker in the pack was an unscheduled addition to the display, Graham Hardy, who turned up riding his version of the legendary Shuttleworth Snap, the fictional creation of George Formby in the film ‘No Limits.’ Graham and his pal Jem Fraser explained to me beforehand that they had a little comedy routine which they could perform if required. There was no-one else to take any decisions so I took it on myself to tell them to go ahead. This turned out to involve stealing my cap, replacing it with a wig on my head that made me look like Freddie Boswell from ‘Bread,’ and doing a magic trick in which Jem pushed two red handkerchiefs into my jacket and when he pulled them out, out came a white bra!  I have no idea how he did it. Good knockabout stuff which gave everyone a laugh.

Afterwards there was a sensational display of stunt riding which left everyone awestruck. It isn’t just on the Mountain Course where the two-wheeled action is memorable this year. 

No time to write any more. I need to wash my bra ready for tomorrow.