Saturday night practice set off at 7pm after a full day of classic racing on the Isle. Just like previous nights, Royce’s Newcomer B group was last to be released, but was still first off the line thanks to the persistent work of pit crew members Locky and Phil. After lots of hard work from team and rider, finally experts in the pits have started noticing the Ducati performing on par, if not better, against the Kawasaki ER-6 which the Supertwins class was basically built around.
Pic: The Rowe Racing team continues to grow
Managing two laps around the circuit, Royce built on confidence made throughout a turbulent week in his first Island experience. Taking off from a standing start, Royce set a 99 mph lap, similar to the past couple of nights. Hoping to break the 100 mph barrier, his flying lap started with a blisteringly quick first sector. Hoping to carry this determination for the rest of the lap, he swept into the mountain to be met with held yellow flags – a cautionary measure which he thought was due to an accident, but actually was needed for the terrible fog rolling over the hills. Although this slowed Royce down, he still came back to the pits with a 99.5 mph lap posted – achingly close to the 100 mph barrier. The team was still stoked with the result as this bumped him up to second fastest in the Newcomers B group, an amazing result against local and far more experienced riders. Talking us through the lap – as the majority of us will never be lucky enough to fang around the famous mountain course – Royce describes the frustration of being caught behind riders and flags:
“Once the noisy Norton parade had finished I was rolled up to the start line to start my stand still lap. Getting around a few slower bikes coming into the scary Ballagary, made things a bit hairy! But it still gave me big smiles. Coming into the hard braking Ballacraine, the Mallala hairpin experience came in handy going past a few more riders. The bike felt good after a few changes to the steering damper, making the front of the bike move around a lot less, but I was still able to turn in to corners easy.
Going down Sulby Straight after changing the timing in the bike, we’re going 8 km/h faster through the speed trap this session than yesterday, which is great to see for the Ducati. Making my way up and through the mountain section, I’m slowly learning which corner is coming next, even though there are a few corners similar to another I need to know which one is which to be able to keep the throttle pinned.
The first lap felt good with a 99.5mph with a standing start but unfortunately the second lap was over before it began with fog over the mountain. I couldn’t see 20 metres in front so I had to slow down not knowing the track off by heart yet. The marshals displayed yellow flags over the whole mountain to get the riders to slow down, so I buttoned off until I came out of the fog. Still getting another 99.5 lap with the fog I was pretty chuffed and I think cracking the 100 mph lap is just around the corner.”
Pic: Royce on the gas
Due to the cancellation of practice sessions earlier this week, all races have been pushed back to allow the Newcomers more time out on the track to accumulate laps. This leaves the team with a Monday practice, then the two races on Tuesday and Wednesday. With a free day tomorrow, being the holy day, the team will head out for some more track testing… at the local pubs. Some very lengthy analysis of local brews will be conducted, leaving no stone (beer tap) unturned. Check back for some riveting reviews from the crew!
Pic: Royce storming through Hillbery