When you hear about the Isle of Man, you instantly think of the worlds most legendary motorcycle race- and the very special breed of rider it takes in order to compete in such an unforgiving environment, not to mention the lengths sponsors,mechanics,managers,families, and supporters go to from all parts of the globe to ensure these riders have all the support and requirements they need to compete over these few weeks in this stunning destination, which is often overlooked when it comes to race day.
Last years initial campaign for us at the Isle went better than we ever could have hoped for, with the BLR Chassis/Suzuki powered F2 performing flawlessly to see us with a 16th place finish in race 1, then an amazing 11th in race 2.
This year the bike has undergone substantial changes including better aerodynamics, fresher engines,and a new platform for the passenger. This has led to the bike having a different feel for the guys in the initial stages of the TT practices- Our crew took to the course on Monday's first practice session to bed the bike in with a couple of solid laps but Colin required some small adjustments to the new bodywork in order to be completely comfortable for the remaining sessions.
Tuesday bought on more spectacular weather, and the guys were on some quick sector times until a bumpy part of the course (Ginger Hall) had the bike bounce across the track into an airbag- both riders were uninjured apart from bruising but the bike was now in need of a decent amount of repair to the body work and also suffered a bend to the front forks- (for those not familiar with an F2 sidecar the forks themselves are a solid alloy, leading-link design).
The guys did manage to ride the bike home to the pits after practice had concluded,complete with a rather bent front disc!
We were informed the front forks were not repairable due to the spot they had been bent, so the search was on to try and come up with something in order to get the bike back on track for the rest of practice week!
A new set of forks was ordered from chassis designer Rod Bellas, but due to the work involved the team wouldn't receive these until the second race at best- the option was presented to borrow a set of older forks of similar design from TT Legend Dave Molyneux who lives on the Isle, and try to make them fit! A new brake rotor was found and fitted without any issues...
While crew chief Dave spent countless hours with fibreglassing the bodywork, the remainder of the lads not only had to re-engineer the forks borrowed in order to get them to fit and function correctly, but also fabricate new handlebars to fit inside the fairing, and allow the right amount of movement- unfortunately the damaged forks/handlebars had already been sent to the mainland to have a replacement set made so the team had to work out the required angles/lengths and placements of the new bars to be welded on. In addition to this the guys discovered a large dent and split to the titanium exhaust system which also took a decent amount of straightening out!
But they made it! Missing practice on Wed allowed the extra time to get the bike repaired, tested at Jurby airfield and then ready to get back out for some further TT laps.
The guys again went out and were on some stunning sector times- but during the session a wall came into play resulting in further panel damage - so Dave donned his panel-beater apron again and began reconstruction of the broken fairing, with less than 24 hours until the first official race of this years TT.
By the morning, the bike had again put on a fresh coat of paint and new stickers- and as the bike took to the start line for Race 1 it was a relief to see the bike head off at good pace, starting with the top 20- again the boys were on a flyer, moving quickly up to 13th spot before a red flag was issued after an incident at Rhencullen. The race was scheduled to a full restart at 4pm, and what a dramatic one it was!
Many of the teams had technical issues,with several of the top teams retiring due to mechanical faults- and for us, even thought the guys fought their way through to 15th position within the first lap, we were forced to retire as we came across the line with an electrical issue... this turned out to be just 1 wire that had broken through due to vibration across the course.
It was announced after the event that the rider involved in the incident at Rhencullen had passed away due to his injuries, and his passenger was in a stable condition in Noble Hospital. We'd like to take a moment to say our thoughts are with the family and friends of fellow rider and Australasian Dwight Beare- he will be truly missed by all in the paddock.
So there we have it- this is what the Isle of Man TT brings to each and every competitor and those around them.
The efforts are massive.
The risks are high.
The rewards are immeasurable.
The emotions are insurmountable
The course is unforgiving.
The paddock is a shared family.
From a personal perspective, as I write this on behalf of the team and our efforts here for our second year- I can proudly say that I'm finally gaining an understanding of this place and why these elite people return each year to conquer, watch and document this race. It's special for a lot more than just what happens ON the course.
Rest well Dwight. Our love to his dad Noel (pictured),Robyn, Tash , family and friends.