Archive for June, 2012

My TT Personality of 2012

Posted: June 15, 2012 in Uncategorized

My unofficial award for TT Personality of 2012 goes to Cameron Donald. They always say the silver medal is the toughest to accept because you were so near to gold and yet so far. Cameron finished in the silver medal position in three races and accepted all three results with sportsmanship, generosity to the winners and a humble attitude towards the event and its history.  He also raced incredibly well  and in the first Supersport race was less than one second away from winning a fourth TT. A true star.



The way to remember TT 2012: sunshine, bikes and riders

It was a strange feeling at the end of TT2012. No Senior race and therefore no grand finale. Where was the fat lady, and what do you do if she does not sing? One thought that occurred to me was that it is quite surprising that we have not had bad weather on both the Friday and standy-by Saturday before, which would have caused a cancellation of the Senior some time ago. But of course it is only in the last seven or eight years or so that racing in the wet has been deemed unsafe for superbikes . In view of the wet weather we get these days I wonder if the organisers should apply for permission to close the roads on the final Sunday as well, just in case. If not, a pattern of cancelled Seniors could well emerge in the next few years and that would have a serious impact on the overall health of the TT.

It’s so tricky though. Any extension of the TT, even by 24 hours, would be unpopular with the big teams, especially Honda whose boss Neil Tuxworth makes no attempt tp hide his frustration that the TT demands so much time. Neil spent much of Saturday in the media centre watching the action from Doha where his Honda TT Legends were competing in the second round of the World Endurance Championship, a really bad clash of events with Neil, John McGuinness, Cameron Donald and Gary Johnson all sitting around idly on the Isle of Man.

On their bikes: the BMW Motorrad truck departs

Saturday was utterly surreal. We waited for decisions on the Senior while watching the paddock empty and the huge transporters navigate their way out onto Glencrutchery Road, not their usual route, bottoming out as they tried to get up the ramp. At least we did see some action in the end with the supertwins providing a lively race in the latest reincarnation of the Lightweight TT. Knowing I’d be describing the presentation of a new trophy for the first time I tracked down Lloyd Mister from G4S who looks after the silverware and he was good enough to produce the new pot and take my photo with it. It’s a handsome piece of work with a lovely miniature version of the famous Senior trophy, Mercury on the winged wheel, mounted on the top.

The other thing that made it feel a bit strange when it was all over was very positive. I realised this had been the least stressful TT of my time in the commentary box. No Guy Martin fireballs at Ballagarey, no Nicky Crowe disintegrations at Ballaugh, no red flags at all in the races and, praise be, no fatalities in the races either.

Talking of Guy Martin…well, not many people were this year.

Guy Martin

Guy was low profile, didn’t seriously challenge for a win, didn’t get on the podium for the first time since his debut season, and his pre-race interviews which used to be so original and entertaining, were almost incoherent. I’m not too sure how Guy will improve his chances of a TT win in future years.

Billown yesterday was terrific. The weather was perfect and the racing was exciting despite the inevitable withrawal of a number of leading names. Ryan Farquhar set a new lap record for the supertwins. Chris Palmer and Ian Lougher were the other winners. Afterwards the Radio TT team had dinner and a few scoops and put TT 2012 to rights. Can’t wait for the MGP now. Oh, but that’s another story isn’t it!

Postscript: Saturday saw the greatest number of hits in a single day for my blog, over 1300. Thanks for all the comments and replies; keep them coming!

TT images 2012

Posted: June 8, 2012 in Uncategorized

Grey sky, silver lining

Posted: June 8, 2012 in Uncategorized

Damp and grey day yesterday. At the paddock it wasn’t a very cheerful scene with tents zipped up and bare patches appearing where the sidecar crews have decamped. I  dropped into the North One production HQ to see the exec producer Neil Duncanson who is again creating magnificent coverage of the TT. I picked up a lot of facts and figures about the North One operation which I’ll make use of at some stage in the commentary of the final day’s racing on the Mountain Course – which won’t be today because of continuing rain and low cloud. As I write, it’s getting a lot brighter in Douglas but the forecast is for low cloud to persist over the mountain all day.

I was collared by my pal Paul Moulton, ex Manx Radio, now a video journalist who runs the online Manx TV news service, so if you want to see me put on the spot about being the TT commentator click here. Charlie Williams on Radio TT 365 is going to interview the commentators at 1pm so I’ll be heading up to the Grandstand soon.

Funny how things work out. Usually I head back to Liverpool on the Sunday after commentating at Billown on the Saturday. This year, despite booking the ferry way back in June 2011, I couldn’t get my usual sailing and had to settle for a Monday ferry instead. Silver linings etc, it means I’ll be able to commentate on the Billown races on Sunday when normally I’d have had to miss out.

Another Dunlop win

Yesterday was a golden day at the TT. It’s hard to know where to start, there were so many good things going on and what made it all the better was that things looked so bleak, weatherwise, in the morning. So top marks to the clerk of the course Gary Thompson and his team for reaching the end of the day with the full programme of events completed. There were delays and re-arrangements and it was a long day all round, but it all took place in the end. While we were waiting I went for a wander around the back of the Grandstand and spotted Tim Glover doing a live interview with Gary Thompson on the steps of the Race Office, with an impromptu audience of several dozen people who were hanging on every word.

After that, things just kept getting better and better. Kevin Schwantz and Randy Mamola did a parade lap and clearly loved it. The top three riders all broke the 100mph barrier in the TT Zero, although the small number of starters (nine) and finishers (four) is a concern – I’d like to see some teams match the quality of their hype with that of their performance. Dave Molyneux won his 16th sidecar TT but only after Ben Birchall and Tim Reeves each appeared at the top of the leader board.

TT finish for Debbie Barron

Debbie Barron completed the three laps to become the first female Manx driver to compete in a sidecar TT – another piece of history. Then Michael Dunlop produced a comprehensive victory in the second Supersport race, vindication of his decision to switch from Suzuki to Yamaha after the NW200 and a cool way to celebrate 10 years in racing.

More good news today is that my pal Les Trotter is heading home again after his brief return to hospital. The weather though is grey and wet on the island and the forecast for tomorrow isn’t good, but we’ll wait and see.

Ian Hutchinson

We were on the air for over 10 hours yesterday, give or take a break for some music, but it all boiled down to 0.77 seconds of drama. That’s the bit I’ll remember, the time that remained before 10 seconds elapsed on my stopwatch as Bruce Anstey raced towards the finish of the 600 Supersport TT. Cameron Donald had passed the chequered flag just before him and it was all down to whether Bruce could pip him on corrected time – which he did, by a whisker. 150 miles of racing came down to a few yards, and 10 hours of broadcasting to less than half a second. What makes the TT special? Lots of things, and we saw some of them yesterday. As the commentator, it was a bit special to be able to describe a moment like that.

The power of radio was shown in another way. I’ve mentioned a couple of times that Eddie Floyd of Fireblade Ministries was trying to track down a nine-year-old lad who won a prize in a colouring competition last year. Today the young artist duly turned up to claim his prize, so another good result.

It has been misty and wet on the island today. Thankfully there has been no racing scheduled but I feel sorry for the passengers on the cruise liner that has been anchored in the bay all day. I went along to the Manx Museum to watch a documentary about Joey Dunlop’s life called ‘No Ordinary Joe’ and came out feeling short-changed. Instead of telling me things about Joey’s life which I didn’t know, it consisted simply of racing action spliced together. I wasn’t very pleased until I realised that I’d been sitting through the wrong film! As well as the documentary the museum is also showing a compilation of Joey’s TT wins, which was the one I saw. Hopefully I’ll have time to catch up with the documentary later.

Meanwhile, what’s going on with the island’s catering industry? Moby Dick’s chippy on Douglas Prom is closed, the Carousel is now a fading memory and the Terrace chippy has had to shut because of a fire – but even more seriously, the Sugarpot in Port Erin has closed down. The Sugarpot produced the best Portuguese Fried Rice this side of Macau. Last week new owners took over under a new name. I wish them luck but they’ll never be able to serve Portugese Fried Rice like the lady who used to reign supreme there.

People power adds up

Posted: June 4, 2012 in Uncategorized

Dropped in on the People’s Bike this evening and the place was buzzing. The idea of offering a stake in a TT team for £50 has really caught on.

Dan (66) on Fabrice Miguet’s case in practice

The team put on a bit of a do for their many backers, and the supporters who turned up hailed from Australia, the USA and all sorts of locations closer to home. Mark and Eunice Cubbon are running a great operation which is gathering pace all the time. Of course a lot depends on the rider. Steve Mercer gave the team a terrific start in 2009 and the People’s Bike was a handy launching pad for Steve who is now a consistent top-20 finisher, now with the Corless/Jackson team. Dan Hegarty is the People’s rider this year and the man from Nottingham impressed everyone this evening with his friendly, easy manner – when he wasn’t blaming himself for his spill at Braddan on the last lap of the Superbike TT. The bike is being fixed, new parts are coming from England tomorrow (or later today, as I write, checking the clock), and it should be ok to run in the Senior. We’ll have to see if it makes the grid for the Superstock this afternoon. Dan’s five-year-old lad Evan was another hit, a little bundle of energy who explained what was wrong with his dad’s bike (‘it has a hole in the tyre’).

This kind of public sponsorship is an increasingly popular way of raising funds to go racing. Paul Owen has been doing something similar with his Club 98 for the last six years. Each year Paul sets out to recruit 98 people to sponsor him to the tune of £98 each – 98 being his dad’s old racing number. This year he has exceeded the target with something like 120 members. Others, like Ryan McCay and newcomer Michael Niblett have used Facebook to bring in small donations which all add up.

I also called in on the official launch of Rachael Clegg’s unconventional calendar depicting a mostly-naked Rachael in twelve different locations around the the TT course. It isn’t just the riders who need courage to strut their stuff around the Mountain Course!

It’s been a damp Mad Sunday here, with high seas crashing over the promenade and drenching the funfair. The forecast is for better weather tomorrow and it will be a fascinating day. William Dunlop is favourite to bag his first TT win in the 600 race but I wouldn’t say he is overwhelming favourite. The Superstock is wide open.