Amongst the top riders at the Isle of Man TT, victory or defeat can come in pit lane, as crucial time is either won or lost in front of the TT Grandstand on Glencrutchery Road.
But, a pit stop at the Isle of Man TT is not a straight-forward affair, and as such the top teams have choreographed a precise dance in order to extract the maximum performance under tight circumstances.
For TT riders, the biggest rate-limiter during a pit stop is fuel, and a good pit stop will see teams waiting for their fuel tanks to fill, rather than losing time on changing a rear tire, attending to the rider, or some other mechanical issue.
In the video attached to this post, we see Peter Hickman come into the pits, on his way to winning this year’s Senior TT – setting a course record of 135.452 mph along the way as well. It is an interesting insight into this often over-looked aspect of TT road racing.
If you ask the racers at the Isle of Man TT which of the nine races they would most like to win, the Senior TT is always the answer. They call it the “blue ribbon” event, and that is because it features the fastest bikes on the grid, racing over a grueling six laps – it also has the largest trophy.
With the TT fortnight acting like a crescendo to Friday’s race, the Senior TT is final cacophony of noise at the Isle of Man, and today’s race was the epitome of that notion.
Once again, the weather smiled upon this tiny island in the Irish Sea, as it has all fortnight. This not only meant a day for perfect racing, but it also meant that racers had two weeks of honing their craft and their machines for the Senior TT race.
Lap times were going to drop; records were going to be broken, and benchmarks were going to be set, which is exactly what you should expect from the Senior TT.
All this being said, I still had my reservations this morning about publishing a story where Dean Harrison said that a 135 mph lap time was a necessity if he wanted to win the Senior TT. Just a few years ago, 135 mph seemed unthinkable. Two weeks ago even, a 135 mph lap seemed too far away.
My apprehension seems to have been unnecessary though, but even that wasn’t immediately clear at the start of The Senior.
On Saturday during the RST Superbike race, Dean Harrison smashed the outright Isle of Man TT lap record with a 134.432 mph lap of Mountain Course. It was the culmination of a long apprenticeship on the roads for the Bradford rider, and having claimed a second career TT victory this week, he’ll be out to impress once again during the Senior TT on Friday. Road racing is in his blood, his father Conrad is a sidecar race-winner, but for Dean the challenge has been to gain the experience to show what he can do on the 37-mile long circuit. That experience has been taking place on the roads, at home studying videos, and racing in the British Superbike Championship to understand more about what it takes to reach the limit of his Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10RR.
Senior Day dawns on the Isle of Man, and this national holiday is far from a day-off for the riders.
With six laps of the fearsome Mountain Course, the top riders will have just over 100 minutes to etch their names in the history books. The list of past winners is a who’s who of road racing, and brings to a close two weeks of helter skelter action at the road racing capital of the world.
Mike Hailwood and John McGuiness are the most successful riders in the history of the Senior, with seven wins apiece, but with only two active riders, Michael Dunlop and Ian Hutchinson, having claimed a win in the blue ribbon race, we could see a new victor added to the 45 names on the winners list.
The Lightweight TT each year proves itself to be one of the most popular classes at the Isle of Man TT. Originally conceived as a three-lap race, where pit stop strategy added to the intrigue, the “junior” class is now a four-lap affair.
Designed to be a proving ground for younger riders, now we see the big names in the class as well, with Ian Hutchinson, Michael Dunlop, Peter Hickman and others testing their mettle on the 650cc twin-cylinder bikes.
The final race on Wednesday, TT fans were treated to a strong race, which had several lead changes, and plenty of lap records.
After two years of stagnation, 2018 was do or die for the TT Zero electric race in terms of forward progress. Before the race even started, the race saw some drama, with Team Mugen’s three-bike strategy having to be rethinked due to news from John McGuinness and Bruce Anstey.
As such, Mugen ultimately would field a two-man team, with Michael Rutter and Lee Johnston on the helm of the Mugen Shinden Nana.
In total, only seven entries would lineup on Glencrutchery road for the TT Zero race, with all eyes wondering if we would finally see a 120 mph lap from the electric bikes.
The sign at the starting line said “conditions excellent” as the Isle of Man provided another perfect arena for motorcycle racing, as Race 2 of the Supersport TT got underway.
With Michael Dunlop setting a 129 mph lap during Race 1, conversations already started about whether we would see a 130 mph lap from the supersport machines, an almost crazy average lap speed to consider from the 600cc machines.
While we wouldn’t see the record books change that entry today, we did see an eventful Supersport TT Race 2 at the Isle of Man TT.
After a thrilling start to race week, today’s action has a lot to live up to. Wednesday’s lineup will offer nine laps of racing across the Supersport, Lightweight, and TT Zero classes.
The trio of Michael Dunlop, Peter Hickman, and Dean Harrison have dominated the week so far, and it’s almost certain that they will once again be the men to beat in the Superport class.
But in the Lightweight class, the likes of Ivan Lintin and a host of others will feel they can contend.
Peter Hickman and Josh Brookes are two riders who have proved that short circuit riders can still make the switch to the roads. Twenty years ago the, top British short circuit riders were all racing on the roads. Whether you were an up and coming John McGuinness, or an established star like Michael Rutter, it was expected that you would join the list of short circuit racers that raced on the roads. The practice was as old as factory contracts, and it was expected that if you wanted to have the best bikes in the British championships, you would race at the North West 200 and the Isle of Man TT. That practice has slowly faded out, but in recent years the move has been made by some short circuit riders to return to the roads.