Tommy Clucas Racing
Team P.C. Racing

Diary 2004

IOM TT Races. Tuesday, 1st June 2004

Tuesday 1st June

Stuey had the bike fettled by the time I got in the paddock…… he had stopped up there and had most of it done last night…… He had some wire mesh fitted to the Radiator, fitted new tyres, changed the gearing to a tooth less on the rear sprocket as it was revving out whilst on the side of the tyre at places like the Crosby corner, and the kink after the Sulby Straight…… just hoped that the bike could pull it, but I thought that I usually go faster in the race and I would need to at least try it……

We were lined up at scrutineering pretty much first again, almost 3½ hours before it opened, so on the ball and no mistake. Before I went out, Darren ‘Muscles’ Murphy introduced me to Andi Notman, who is a British Superstock competitor, and Muscles said he was ‘the boy’ on suspension …… he thought that this would be a good idea, when he saw me at Cronk Ny Mona last night and I had to roll the throttle because the arse end of the bike was jumping around a bit…… So Andi made a few major changes to the front and the back…… well, lets go and try it…… Again, the weather forecast hadn’t been the greatest, but the sun had shown its face again, which was nice, but the wind had picked up……… boo. Still, as long as it stayed dry……

We weren’t first out tonight, most of the Formula One bikes were at the line first, but Stuey did a sterling job of pushing his way through and I would have less traffic than I would have had. Looked like I was going to be starting with me good ol mate Craig ‘Aka’ Atkinson on Stewart Smiths’ GSXR1000 Suzuki, and sure enough we took off together…… he got a belting start and my bike bogged a bit, but soon got into my stride, he was at least 200 yards ahead, but I wheelied past him at Ago’s leap when he obviously rolled the throttle and I never…… wanker!…… took a bit of a wide line around the QB, as I was on cold tyres and a tank full of fuel, then haired off to Braddan……… passed a few on the run to Crosby, had to be extra cautious at Glenvine when I took the corner behind a newcomer, noticed at the Crosby Corner that the gearing was better, it wasn’t popping off the rev limiter, handy stuff that, but the downside was that it was taking longer to ‘pick up’…… it was bogging down more than it had been…… this is the main difference between a proddy bike and a tuned one…… the tuned bikes just take off when you pull the wire tight. Encountered my first gaggle of traffic into Ballacraine, and thought I’d be stuck behind them for a bit, but managed to pick them off easily enough, but did get stuck behind the guy in front for a couple of corners and went underneath him at the Black Dub…… even had me knee down here, which was another first for me…… must have had it well cranked over…… loads more traffic at the Cronk-y-Voddy straight and got a few before the end, but had to go down the box, we were that slow, but got them all before Handley’s……… got stuck behind some more at Begarrow, but got them on the brakes at the 13th milestone…… could recognise all round top bloke, Seamus Greene, ahead on his Gixer Thou, and went around the outside of him at Westwood on the approach to Kirk Michael and then got my head down…… there was the odd bit of traffic here and there, but was getting past it okay, although I much prefer to have a clear road…… Can take Alpine better than I am doing, and am having to go down the box to 5th gear to keep the revs up and get the drive out, tried it in 6th and it had bogged down a bit, so knew it would be worse with the taller gearing that I had on, so 5th again it was…… still losing a bit of time on the corner before Ballacrye, should be taking that flat out and I’m not, so will have to remedy that, landing off the jump, felt that the bike was more stable, and the suspension had generally been better all round, but knew the real test would be after the Ginger Hall, on the run to Ramsey, and it was better, it has to be said, probably helped by the fact that I was standing on the footpegs more and hoisting the front of the bike over the jumps, so that it wasn’t landing on the front wheel…… no problems there…… caught up with and managed to get passed Jim Hodgson, who had started 10 secs ahead of me on his 1000cc in Milntown, I was stuck behind for a bit, but got him on the brakes on the bumpy right hander before the Cottage…… probably one of my least favourite corners……… encountered more traffic over the mountain, but decided to pull in after seeing 96C on the temperature gauge…… Was pretty steady everywhere and pulled in after the first lap to get the mesh whipped off the radiator…… The team asked how it was handling and I said to leave it as it was and let me go out for another go, Chris also mentioned that I had done around 115.5mph…… better then…… not bad with all the traffic…… Me arms were also less tired than normal…… the better we get the bike handling, the less tired I will be……… John McGuiness never suffers from arm pump, but he did last year when he couldn’t get the Monstermob Ducati to handle…… it really tires you out when you are trying to keep the bastards under control…… so get it anyway near sweet, and I’ll be well happy…… wish I understood suspension a bit more though.

Was soon out again, and there was loads more traffic to contend with, but it was all practise passing it, hopefully in the race there won’t be as many to pass in one go, because that’s where the problems come in…… more than two riders take up the whole road and you have to pick them off which eats up the time…… spotted a photographer on his knees after the brow on the hill at the Waggon & Horses, so said to myself, I’m pulling a wheelie there next time, always good for the mantelpiece! The sun was getting really strong at Greeba and all the way to Ballacraine, and I was having to roll the throttle a tad just to be sure I was where I wanted to be in the road, I had a dark visor on, but it never made much difference. Managed to passed Oatsey at the bottom of Begarrow on his R1 and was thinking of giving him the fingers, but thought it would be a good idea to keep both hands on the bars over the bumpy bits, got good air time again at Ballaugh Bridge, a bit more than I would have liked actually and landed on the front wheel, usually I’m ‘bob on’ at landing on both wheels…… Still rolling it to Ballacrye, but am pretty handy round Quarry bends, and had it snaking on the brakes into Sulby Bridge…… that would be good to see on video if anyone got it…… Same deal again on the run to Ramsey, it definitely felt better, but I’m sure I was also putting into practise what I had learnt…… wasn’t as tired as I normally would be after two laps, and had another steady run over the mountain…… Still had both rip off on me visor, so decided to go for a flying lap…… Had the bike snaking on the brakes into Governors……… Flew through the Grandstand on a flying lap, and hit the bottom of Bray Hill with a hell of a thump…… reckoned that the fairings had bottomed out (and they had)…… was gonna try to put a fast lap in, but was trying to hard and making too many silly little mistakes, remembered the photgrapher at the Waggon & Horses and pulled a stonking wheelie flat out in 6th gear…… had me foot ready on the back brake to bring it back down because the wind was quite strong here…… was sweating quite a bit as it was still pretty hot out, and the sun was even worse this time round, especially through Greeba again……… Caught up with some Geezer on a Ducati at Begarrow and got stuck behind him till the 13th milestone, where I went around his outside at Westwood…… after that I got pretty much a clear run…… was off the throttle a few times when I shouldn’t have been and took another different line rounding Schoolhouse Corner in Ramsey…… was in the layby this time round, the grids in the road don’t half unsettle the bike, and I’m trying to find a line that avoids them…… beeped me horn rounding Parliament square, just forra larf like, and did it every time I passed a Marshall up on the Mountain…… caught my foot on the ground rounding the Verandah, and it sent me near to the grass…… close one…… and after that decided that I was taking the wrong line, slightly too wide here, so will change it next time around…… Also was in the wrong line at Kepple Gate, hit the new bit of patched tarmac and it threw me in the wrong line so I had to grab a fistful of brake and wobble round the next corner…… was steady enough everywhere else and pulled in to the pits…… Had gone faster again with 115.83mph……… Can do better though.

Decided on doing just one more lap, and wanted to try another change, so Stuey altered the front suspsension but didn’t tell me which way he went with it…… right, lets see if its any better…… had time to do two laps, but thought 4 in one night would be enough…… Pulled away from the Grandstand and straight away, could feel the front end chattering…… mmmmmm…… what the hell has he done there then…… first thought that the wheel might have lost a weight and was out of balance, was even thinking of pulling off at the QB and going up the slip road, but thought I’d best try it everywhere else…… There wasn’t much traffic out this time around which was handy, so decided on trying to be as smooth as possible, and it was not too shabby…… felt really comfortable at the speed I was going, although I know I can push harder, but this was the fourth lap the tyres had done, and I was trying to feel if the bike was better…… didn’t really notice the front end chatter again……… At the end of the Cronky Straight the bike was livelier than it had been, so will have to get that changed…………… on the approach to Alpine, saw that there was a 125cc machine ahead, so I lined him up for a pass…… straightened the bike up for the bump in the road, and the geezer came straight across in front of me, I was travelling a good 30mph faster than him, and was right in the gutter on the edge of the pavement to avoid him…… must have gave him the fright of his life…… cos it nearly did for me…… just managed to avoid touching him, but it was a close one all the same…… if he would have stayed in the line he was in we wouldn’t have had a problem…… swinging across the road in front of me created one however…… its stupid things like that, that could have you…… I think the 125/400 class should have their own practise sessions…… its amazing how quick you catch them…… one minute they’re in the distance, the next your all over them.

Had a pretty lonely time up on the mountain, and rounding the Verandah the clouds were coming down and the temperature was definitely dropping, hoped that if it was gonna rain, it would have the decency to wait till I got to the finish……… coming down towards the Greg Ny Baa, saw a shadow beside me and John McGuinness zoomed past on his tuned IFS R6 Yamaha Junior bike…… you could smell the Avgas from his exhaust…… not running sooooper doooper unleaded like me then. Christ, his bike was fast and he just drove away from me…… he must have pulled nearly 10 seconds from there to the end, when we both pulled in…… Was met by the whole team and gave Stuey the bike to take back to the paddock…… told him that I felt that we had gone the wrong way…… so to put the suspension back where it had been for the first three laps…… Chris informed me that all my laps were in the 115mph bracket, so consistency if nowt else………… Just got to get quicker. Went and got me gear off, and another shower before the rush.

Afterwards was speaking to a good mate of mine, mentioning no names, and he told me that he saw a Power Commander on the Production bike of one of the top boys 600 Production bikes when his team had the seat unit off, mentioning no names there either…… these things are not allowed, and it absolutely pisses me off that these blokes have to cheat…… if they’re running one of those, what else have they had done…… If they are professional riders they should be able to beat people like me with no extra help, but people like me are riding just as hard and sometimes just as well, but don’t get near them, because we’re sticking to the rules…… and what makes it extra laughable, is that I will more likely be asked to get my bike stripped and none of the blokes that finish in the top 3 will…… moan over.

So, tune in for another very exciting, sun shining, faster lapping episode........................................

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