I’m writing this
whilst looking out of the window, with a view of Snaefell. So yes,
I’ve been racing at The Southern 100 on the Isle Of Man.
Neither Steve nor I
could believe it was a year since we were last here, seems like
yesterday. Sunday was the usual scruitineering, and chance to catch
up with some familiar faces.
Was good to catch up
with some of the guys who I raced with over in Ireland over the last
couple of years, and hear the latest news, which included the
concerns around the paddock about if Killalane will run, still
doesn’t sound hopeful.
Anyway to Monday
Both bikes went
through technical inspection ok and so was due out on 400 first.
She seemed a little
reluctant to start but when running sounded ok. As soon as I left the
dummy grid I knew there was something wrong, but hoped it just needed
a run to clear her as she felt as if she wasn’t running on all
It was quite clear
she wasn’t going to clear, so ran her back to the paddock.
Luckily I spotted
the problem straight away, a wire had come out of the connector to
one of the coils, so a nice easy fix.
We ran her back to
be checked over, only to be asked by one of the scruitneers, “what’s all this oil?”
So it was back to
the van to investigate.
It looked serious
and as I was out soon and the second 400 practice was looming, I
realised that it wasn’t going to get fixed, so that was the end of
the 400 for the week.
annoying as the engine had ran fine last year and hasn’t been apart
since then, so what is the matter I really don’t know.
Still, it was now
time to take the 650 out.
She was running fine
and I was catch the 4 guys that had set off in two groups ahead of
me, so was feeling good.
Before I went out
the forecast was for local showers, so when I got spots of water on
the screen I didn’t worry. Shortly after my foot slid off the
footpeg, so I then started to think it wasn’t rain.
Looking down at my
temperature gauge my fears were confirmed, she was over heating, so
pulled in and waited to be collected by the course car.
Word of advice to
the organisers, please don’t get course cars with leather seats in
to collect riders, as race leathers on leather seats have the same
amount of friction as ice.
This resulted in me
spending half the ride back behind the passenger, and the other half
behind the driver, all the time trying to get my seat belt to
On the plus side,
the water from the radiator did wash off the oil from the 400, so all
worked out nicely in the end.
With the bikes
loaded we headed off to base to have a think about what we were going
arrived and we set about checking the 650 over. I drained the oil and
what I put in came out, so no excess fluid had got into the engine,
which happened the last time I had problems with the cooling system.
Likewise the water level stayed in the same place in the radiator, so
more good news.
Steve had found out
that SV’s are prone to getting airlocks in the radiator if filled
I’ve filled the
rad many times and had no problems, but on this occasion it was
looking like that I had managed to trap some air in there.
As we could find
nothing else we headed back to the paddock for practice to see if we
had cured the problem.
Practice went well,
and despite endlessly watching the temperature gauge, I managed to
knock a second off my previous fastest time around the circuit, which
I was very happy with.
On the way back we
worked out what the qualifying time was, and I was well under it, so
We went to the race
office on Wednesday to see what grid position I was in and couldn’t see my
number there, so went and asked at the race office.
I was told that I
had qualified, but they were only allowed 32 riders on the grid, and
I qualified 34th.
doesn’t sound great, but there was 50 entered, so not too
Luckily the guy just
in front of me was there and was told that one rider had dropped out,
so I was now 1st reserve.
This meant that I
was to take my place on the grid, do the sighting lap, and see how
many had turned up to race.
I did my sighting
lap, and sat anxiously waiting to see if I could race. Luckily I got
the thumbs up, so got my head down.
It was a good race
and was just coming onto Great Meadow when the leaders flew passed on
the final lap. Still I was just pleased to have had a race.
With the bike loaded
we set off back to base with a smile on our faces.
We arrived at the
paddock on Thursday morning knowing that I may well not be out in the
race today, but luckily Steve said we should get the bike through
scruitineering first and then check with the race office.
This was a wise move
as the scruitineer noticed the tyre valves were loose, so couldn’t
We got the wheels
off double quick so new ones could be fitted, whilst Dave Clarke,
went and checked to see if I was racing.
Whilst refitting the
wheels Dave came back and told me I was once again reserve for the
Supertwin race, but was on the third row for the Support race, one I
didn’t even know I was in for.
With the wheels back
on, bike was checked and passed, so we were good to go.
Again I was lucky
enough to take part in the Supertwin race and had a much better race.
As well as not being lapped, I also knocked another second off my
fastest time, so still improving.
After having a mild
panic about fuel, or lack of, for the extra race, we had loads, all
was looking good.
Whilst sat in the
holding area it started to rain, so we hoped it wasn’t going to
last, and luckily it didn’t.
The race started and
from my ninth place on the grid I set off and was 3rd into
the first corner, which was great.
I was overtaken by
one guy on a straight and stayed with him through all the corners
only to loose him on the straight again.
My main racing
partner this week was Kevin ‘Irish Ago’ Murphy, and sure enough
he too also overtook me on the straight.
The three of us had
a great dice, which included us being 3 abreast on the brakes into a
corner, and Ago and myself side by side coming out of Cross Four
Ways, and looking across at each other whilst willing our bikes to
accelerate quicker than the other.
When we crossed the
line the three of us were covered by just over a second, which was
great after such a good race.
finished 6th, and had improved my time by another 3
seconds, so a cracking race all in all.
When I caught up
with Ago later, he admitted that we were level ability wise, but his
bike just had the extra speed on mine, which was a nice compliment as Ago was one of the guys who was way ahead of me the first time I
raced the course.
So by the end of the
week I’d finished all 3 races I started in, improved my lap time by
5 seconds in total, and got another finishers medal.
Another for the collection
If you had told me
at the end of Monday evening, with a broken bike either side of me,
that by the end of the week I would have been faster by 5 seconds
than I’ve ever been around the course before, and that I would have
finished sixth in a race, I’d have thought you were mad, so just
goes to show don’t give up.
I really do think
the extra track time I’ve had this year has helped and think that
if I’d had the extra laps of the practice session I missed, I
could’ve been a bit quicker.
It’s really odd
because, even though I have been round the corners loads of times I
still have to build myself up to going quick around them.
For instance, I know
I can go round Stadium Corner with just knocking it down a gear,
however at the beginning of the week, I brake and come down two
gears, why I just don’t know. When I get around it I ask myself why
did I slow down. Strange how the mind works.
So that’s it for
another year, is always a shame when it ends, but hopefully I will be
back next year, but I’m going to have to have a long hard think
about what I will be racing as I now have doubts about if the 400
will last, which is a shame as love riding her., but we will see.
Not long to wait for
my next race, as all being well I will be at Cadwell the first
weekend in August back on the Minitwin.