Posts Tagged ‘Radio TT’

The TT is an addiction. I’m in England, hopping from the radio to Twitter to iomtt.com, just in case I might miss something. And we’re still three days from the first race. I didn’t listen to Radio TT tonight for breaking news or sporting drama. I listened for the familiarity of it. The routine of practice coverage is the same. I know, we all know, what Chris Kinley is going to say, how he’s going to say it, and when. It’s brilliant. And we listen out for the things that are different – a new voice on the air, a new name on the grid, something different trackside. The small details of the new take their place among the century-old sweep of the established. Not many sporting events can offer anything like this.

Amid the atmosphere and the tapestry, there is, of course, news of one kind or another. Tonight, it was Anstey, picking up where he left off in 2014, fastest again. McGuinness was looking good. The sidecars got out for a practice session at last. I listened to Tim Glover’s round-up of the evening’s action, then got a phone call from Alan Knight, the photographer whose work lights up ‘TT Talking’. Alan had been out snapping at Quarterbridge and Braddan.

Five minutes after putting the phone down I took another habitual look at iomtt.com to see if the complete practice times were up yet. They weren’t, but instead there was that doomladen headline: ‘Statement issued on behalf of the ACU.’ We all know exactly what that means: there has been a fatality. And so it was. Franck Petricola, in his first TT, had been killed at Sulby.

This is the other side of that coin of familiarity. Shock, yes. Surprise, not at all. It’s the TT. It’s a genuine, real, ultra-physical challenge. My heart goes out to Franck’s family. But we’ll all be listening again tomorrow.

We’re moving into the business end of my personal Top Twenty Mountain Course moments in my nine years as lead commentator at the TT and Manx Grand Prix. Up to now my hit parade has included the funny and the quirky as well as moments of sporting theatre. Today we are well and truly into the category of history-makers.

8In at Number Eight is the Godfather himself, John McGuinness. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIt’s the Senior TT in 2009 and a high-quality grid looks certain to provide us with some rapid speeds. Even so, the stat that my computer screen blinks out as McGuinness slows into pit lane at the end of lap two comes as a stunner: 131.578mph. “Ohhh, look at that!” I bellow into the mic, oblivious to the fact that no-one else can actually see it. “It’s one-three-one!”  The first 131mph lap ever and a wonderful, exhilarating moment for us all. Such is TT though: John is denied a victory chance when his chain snaps and Steve Plater takes the win.

7Same year, but the summer is burning out and this is a carolynndifferent kind of history but no less remarkable. I’m in my lofty perch watching the Ultra Lightweight race at the Manx Grand Prix. We’re wondering if Carolynn Sells can become the second woman on the podium after Maria Costello, after all she was well placed in 2008 before coming off at Windy Corner. It’s the midway point in the race and riders are coming in for the routine pit stop. Carolynn’s bright orange Yamaha FZR400 rockets into view – but does not slow down. She scorches past the pit wall, head down. What’s happening? A desperate blunder or a brilliant strategy? All is revealed soon enough. Brilliant strategy. The Paul Morrissey/Martin Bullock team has calculated their fuel consumption to the drop and without any pit stop Carolynn wins the race and I’m saluting the first woman ever (and still) to win a solo race around the Mountain Course. Afterwards we examine the stats again and work out that she would still have won even with a pit stop.

6The thought of any one rider winning five out of fiveHutchy TT races in a single year seems ridiculous but in 2010 Mission Impossible takes place before my very eyes. Just as remarkable, all races are won with the same manufacturer and the same team, Padgetts Honda. In a day of sometimes painful drama, in which Guy Martin survives a fireball at Ballagarey and Conor Cummins is seriously banged up at the Verandah, Ian Hutchinson emerges triumphant in the four-lap restarted Senior TT, leading from flag to flag with two 131 laps in the first two.  Hutchy, McGuinness and Conor all exceed 131 on the first lap. The race ends with Hutchy standing on the pegs as the Honda coasts across the line and into Ian’s own chapter of TT history.

05Number Five is another Magnificent McGuinness moment. johnWe’re at the Centenary TT in 2007 and the island has been simply spectacular all week with re-enactments, celebrity visitors, and terrific racing. One thing remains: we’re into the last race of the meeting, the Senior TT, and no-one has yet done a 130mph lap. Enter the Morecambe Missile. Lap Two, and here’s the HM Plant Honda Fireblade as the klaxon sounds to indicate a pit stop. Has it been done this time? It’s a real possibility. There’s the timing computer’s verdict. “It has been done! It HAS been done!!”  The engineers are frantically winding the volume down because my voice is busting the decibels at the top end.  130.354mph is the new record and John goes on to wrap up his 13th TT win with a new race record as well.

Tomorrow: Four to go. Which moments make the podium? Which is my all-time Number One?