Archive for March, 2013

The latest episode of Honda TT Legends on ITV4 gave a glimpse of our little empire halfway up the tower. There were two brief shots from inside the commentary box. I must admit I can’t recall the camera operator coming in but my attention is usually so closely focused on following the race that I often have no idea what’s going on around me.

The commentary box is actually quite big. It has to be, because it houses the engineers’ kit, extensive mixing decks and the ISDN terminals, plus an ever-increasing posse of laptops, and the fixed screens and other kit used by three commentators (I’m including Mavis and Heike for French and German listeners), timekeeper Norman and all his records, and producer Eunice with her clipboard, stopwatches and her much-loved seat which she won’t allow anyone to renew or replace. Add to that a stock of sandwiches, crisps and Penguin biscuits without which no TT broadcast would be complete and we really need something the size of a small bungalow.

Not just a good view, but we get good visitors

Not just a good view, but we get good visitors as well

Is it the best view in the house as many people assume? Well, the view of the start and the garlanding ceremonies is terrific. We also have a fabulous overview of the pitlane activity. It isn’t as dramatic as some of the other vantage points though like the foot of Bray Hill or the end of the Cronk y Voddy or the bottom of Barregaroo. The challenge for the commentator in the Grandstand really comes at the end of the race. The trees have grown so tall alongside the rugby field that I don’t see the leading bike until it is about two seconds away from flashing past the chequered flag.  So it’s a bit tricky giving it the full build-up; on more than one occasion I’ve been all set to crank up the excitement only to find a back-marker emerge from the trees.

But – what a buzz. And, it doesn’t really matter if the rider is first or a back-marker. He or she has completed a TT race, and to describe that is to witness one of the most remarkable achievements in sport.

It’s been an incredibly busy week for news from the TT and MGP. In case you missed anything, here’s a round-up of what’s been going on over the last seven days.

  • Entries for the TT closed with all solo classes except Superstock over-subscribed and the Sidecars showing the largest entry since Centenary year 2007. Very sadly, the entries do not include Ian Hutchinson as he continues his fight to recover from injury. They do include Dave Madsen-Mygdal who could become the first rider to complete 100 races.
  • Hutchy will be on the island hosting his Let’s Talk Bikes show, which will be a treat but not exactly where we want to see him.
  • Cameron Donald withdrew from the Honda TT Legends endurance team because it takes him away from Australia too often. He will though ride the NW200 and the TT.
  • ITV4’s documentary series following the Honda TT Legends reached the Isle of Man with highlights of the SBK TT and insights behind the scenes. They’re back at the TT in next Monday’s episode.
  • 25 riders showed up for the first tour of the Mountain Course this year for Manx Grand Prix newcomers. They included a team of four from the British Army.
  • Manxman Gavin Hunt, son of ‘Big H’ Paul, will make his TT debut. The 26-year old will campaign a ZX-10R Kawasaki in the Superbike, Superstock and Senior.

    Gavin Hunt at the 2010 NW200. Photo: Kirth Ferris

    Gavin Hunt at the 2010 NW200. Photo: Kirth Ferris

  • Blackpool’s Roy Richardson announced his retirement from the TT but will continue at the Classic TT in August where he has 10 victories under the old MGP Classic banner.
  • Guy Martin announced his 2013 schedule which starts at Cookstown on April 26 and includes NW200, TT and Southern 100.
  • Olie Linsdell will again ride the SMV Engineering R6 in the Supersport races, and the Steve Bond / Flitwick Motorcycles Fireblade in the three larger capacity classes, and the Suzuki V-Strom racer in the lightweight race. For the inaugural Classic TT, Olie will ride all three races.

    Experts on and off the bike: Olie Linsdell and dad Steve

    Experts on and off the bike: Olie Linsdell and dad Steve

  • Olie’s former team boss Ian Lougher will join the team at the Classic TT riding the Royal Enfield that Olie took to second place last year.
  • KMR Kawasaki, run by Ryan Farquhar, announced that former Irish Superbike champion Brian McCormack will be joining the squad for the International and National road races. The deal was announced a day after KMR signed MGP Newcomers winner James Cowton who will contest the NW200 and MGP among other meetings.
  • Farquhar and McCormack do some blue-sky thinking. Photo: Stephen Davison

    Farquhar and McCormack do some blue-sky thinking. Photo: Stephen Davison

  • It’s been just over a year since Keith Amor announced his retirement from road racing due to injury but the Scot hasn’t been idle and can now be found in Cyprus running ‘Enduro Paphos’, his own off road/adventure business. Further details can be found at www.enduropaphos.com
  • Kawasaki all-time great Kork Ballington will be at the Classic TT in August, riding in the lap of honour and appearing at the Festival of Jurby on a Kawasaki H2R 750 triple. This will be part of a spectacular contribution to the Classic TT by Team Collins and Russell (Des Collins and Ronnie Russell) who are bringing up to 12 classic Kawasakis to the island.
  • Former MGP Lightweight winner Tony Duncan has been appointed chief travelling marshal for all Mountain Course events.
  • And finally, last Monday would have been Joey Dunlop’s 61st birthday meaning thousands of people worldwide spared more than few thoughts for the modest genius from Ballymoney.

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