2009 Isle of Man TT Thursday Insider

June 11, 2009
Ian Kerr
Contributing Editor | Articles | RSS | Blog | Blog RSS

Our man in Europe, Ian delivers a monthly dose of those tasty rumors and hearsay from across the pond that make up our Euro Gossip column.

The weather Thursday is bright, cold and blustery with a chance of showers, which should allow fans the chance to explore the Isle of Man and take in some of the other attractions. This is the first day this week that no racing has taken place, giving the teams the chance to recover from a hectic few days and get machines ready for Friday’s premier race – the six-lap 226.38 mile Senior TT.

When the TT first started this was for the larger twin-cylinder machines, and while in the past a few have entered on 600cc bikes, tomorrow’s event sees all competitors on the one literbike machines apart from Frenchman Marc Granie who is out on a big Ducati. All the big names are out and after this week’s racing, it is difficult, stroke well nigh on impossible to call a potential winner. As to race/lap records this will, of course, depend on weather conditions and how hard riders are being pushed by other contenders for the top spot. One thing is sure that there are a lot of riders now capable of breaking the 130 mph barrier and maybe take the record away from McGuiness.

Michael Dunlop  son of Robert and nephew of Joey  returned the famed Dunlop name to the top of the Isle of Man TT rostrum.
Michael Dunlop, winner of the Isle of Man Supersport Race 2, may not be allowed to race the Senior TT on a nontraditional Rotary Norton bike as he had planed. 

The final list of runners and riders is always published on the morning of the race which gets underway at 1:00 p.m. Only then to will we know whether the Rotary Norton has been allowed to enter. Its rider, Dunlop, has of course more than qualified after yesterday’s stunning performance, but the bike itself has not! As yet no word has been received from either Norton or the race organizers, although many feel that the bike will not be allowed out.

However, Norton themselves have announced they are to recommence production of the 500cc 30M, or Manx Norton. Almost 50 years after production ceased, a new version based on the original 1962 version built at the famous original race shop at Bracebridge Street, is set to roll from their new factory at Donington Park race circuit. It goes without saying that this new version has used the latest 3D CAD/CAM simulation and analysis techniques to optimize the design and bring it into line with modern classic racing. Obviously the advances in materials and build techniques will vastly improve build quality and longevity.

Staying with history, this itself will be made prior to the start of the Senior when the very first TTXGP will get underway at 10:45 a.m. Although receiving a mixed reaction from the hardened TT fans, it does represent a significant step in the transition away from carbon-based fuels and is seen as the first race in a permanent fixture in future TT race calendars.
Originally it was to include all clean emission machines and alternative fuels, but has ended up being for electric vehicles only. The two practice laps have already shown that the bikes are more than capable of completing a lap at some quite impressive speeds. Already they have come within 1 mph of breaking the lap record in practice for the old 50cc class and under tomorrow’s race conditions may well do so.

The Team Agni TTXGP entry topped the first practice timesheet with Ron Barber at the helm. Dan Kneen  Team ManTTX X2  - Isle of Man TTXGP  Practice  Chris Petty  Barefoot Motorsports  - Isle of Man TTXGP  Practice
The top three finishers in the Isle of Man TTXGP timed practice session were (left) Rob Barber on the Team AGNI No. 12 machine  lapping at 84.819 mph, (middle) Dan Kneen on No. 16 ManTTX bike with a speed of 70.667 mph, and (right) Chris Petty riding the
No. 8 Ashland, OR Barefoot Motors entry with an average speed of 67.405 mph.  

Twenty-two bikes from seven countries had entered originally, but to date only 14 have been seen out practicing. One interesting aside is that these machines do not need the usual race bike transponders to track them or record their speeds on various sections of the course, instead relying on satellite technology to give a real time reports. They also have a big red kill switch button on the rear and the marshals have all been issued with rubber gloves to handle the machines in the event of spill!

There are a number of US teams entered. I have previously mentioned the Mission Motors Team, led by Forrest North from Stanford University, their bike being ridden by fellow American Thomas Montano, who finished 35th in yesterday’s Supersport 2 race, although out of the replica positions. Then there is Motoczysz out of Portland, Oregon, best known for its C1 990 ground breaking race bike, who unveiled their entry at the TT the other night. This is due to be ridden by Mark Miller. Killacycle has not turned up. Team Brammo, based in Ashland, Oregon, was one of the first to enter the inaugural event and have been running two bikes in practice. They are using a modified version of its Enertia motorcycle which is already commercially available. Barefoot Motors, again out of Ashland, has also been going well in practice ridden by Chris Petty. Electric Motorsport from the Bay Area of San Francisco is a green transport company and US licensed motorcycle manufacturer, having delivered over 200 electric motorcycles in the last month alone. Their entry is a modified version of their GPR-S production model ridden by Chris Heath.

Tom Montano  Mission Motors  - Isle of Man TTXGP  Practice Mark Miller  MotoCzysz  - Isle of Man TTXGP  Practice Roy Richardson  Brammo  - Isle of Man TTXGP  Practice
Other American manufactured electric motorcycles taking part in the TTXGP are (left) Stanford University’s Mission Motors bike piloted by Tom Montano, which had the fourth fastest time in practice at 67.043 mph; (middle) Portland, OR based Motoczysz’s
machine piloted by Mark Miller; (right) Ashland, Oregon’s BRAMMO with two entries ridden by Roy Richardson and Mark Buckley. 

As we all know there are no points or prizes for practice and under race conditions the riders are going to have to balance speed with battery capacity to allow them to finish. Nobody knows who will manage to do this, but it is building up to a very interesting Friday morning when the final list of runners and riders will be published for this historic event.

The Brittany Ferries Isle of Man historical photo collection.
The Brittany Ferries exhibit by TT Historian Bill Snelling has proved a popular attraction between the racing events.

History though seems to be the buzzword of this year’s TT along with drama and weather. The Brittany Ferries sponsored Fottofinders exhibition run by acknowledged TT historian Bill Snelling is still attracting massive crowds in between the racing. With over 200 images from his collection of over 300,000, the orders are flooding in as visitors get copies of relatives as well as stars in action. (Email: amulree@mcb.net)

The Vintage Club round up their TT activities with a barbecue this evening when all the classic bikes will be on display at the ARE bike museum at Kirk Michael. On a more modern theme, the small coastal village of Laxey hosts a free-to-enter bike show on the beach front followed by a sidecar trail on the rocky beach afterwards.

With no racing and therefore no road closures, the mountain course will be open all day for riders to experience the thrill of riding the same circuit as the riders will tomorrow, and with many heading home at the conclusion of the racing, it is the last chance they will have for this year.

Finally an official statement has been issued concerning the racing incident concerning the sidecar pairing of Nick Crowe and Mark Cox who crashed at Ballacob last night, causing a red flag and an abandonment of the second sidecar race for this year. Both are described as in a stable condition in Nobles hospital with serious fractures.

Three other riders also involved in racing incidents earlier in the week are comfortable in the same hospital. A travelling TT marshal who crashed during the week has been transferred to a hospital on the UK mainland.

So with good weather predicted all look sets to a historic and possible record-breaking final day at the 2009 Isle of Man TT races.