Here we go again…

Preparations for the 2016 Manx GP are well underway, with team and rider busily putting in the ground work for our second crack at the Mountain Course.

Last year saw Royce and the team achieve unprecedented results. The whole experience was new to the team and it didn’t take long for us to find our feet. A laundry was converted into a garage so the guys could get on the tools, a rhythm was found for pit-stops and before long Royce was piecing the track together with gusto.

Being given number 58 for the Newcomers class, an eclectic mix of bikes mounted by first-timers, put little confidence in the young Adelaidian. This doubt was soon extinguished after he qualified for the ‘B’ Group on-board a Supertwin machine, eventually scoring fourth place in the race. Similar was the Supertwin experience. Our machine was the only Ducati on the grid, up against a sea of purpose-built Kawasakis, really making heads turn. Team Principal Brian Rosser of BJR Products was over the moon to receive the ‘Best Prepared Bike’ trophy, especially being up against over 400 teams.

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PIC: Cold mornings in Mount Gambier are all part of the northern-hemisphere preparation

There was certainly a lot of hype surrounding the passionate Aussie team. We scored recognition through the ‘Sponsor a Newcomer’ initiative and Royce was even interviewed twice on Manx Radio. After being handed number 55 for the Supertwins race, the last position on the grid, Royce carved his way through traffic on race day to secure a very respectable tenth position with a best lap time of 108.4mph. With the jubilation of scoring two replica trophies for his efforts came the want to come back stronger and faster next year.

So fast forward about eleven months and here we are! Leaving on 14 August with the festival beginning on 20 August, the team are chomping at the bit to get back over to the Isle for another crack at glory. This year Royce will be competing in three classes on two different bikes. Being his second year, the Newcomers class is obviously out of the equation. The Manx 650 Ducati will be venturing back over with the team, hoping to build on last year’s impressive results in the Supertwin class. We will also be taking over a race-spec Suzuki GSX-R600 to compete in the Junior and Senior classes. The Junior class features machines that must not exceed 750cc, with most racers opting for the common Supersport four-stroke 600cc option like ourselves. The Senior class boasts the final race of the Manx GP programme and is regarded as the major race of the festival. It is open to bikes not exceeding 1000cc, but we will be entering the Suzuki Royce has become accustomed to.

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PIC: Royce making hay while the sun shines

Facing a busy schedule, Royce has this to say; “I’m really excited to be heading back over to the Isle of Man. We wanted to have the 600 over there last year but weren’t accepted due to a huge number of entries. Now that I’ve proved myself I can head back over with both bikes and a mind full of knowledge about the track.

“There are a number of practice sessions that coincide, so I will really have to be on my game. Luckily, in the past I have had many race meetings where I would jump off my 125GP bike and onto a 1000cc Superbike, which is like chalk and cheese! I’ve built up the ability to switch off and on with different riding styles, so I’ll definitely be utilising that skill for this year’s Manx GP.

“Last year was a huge learning curve and I now have a basic idea of how to tackle the track. The annoying thing is that you pass a corner you know you can take quicker or wanted to maybe try a different line, then it doesn’t return for another 20 minutes, unlike a circuit where you get another chance in just over a minute. So, this year I will be using my large amount of practice sessions to try out these different lines and start to string together more of a precise lap.”

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PIC: The opportunity to test and alter the bike at Mac Park has been invaluable for the team

In preparation for this year’s assault, the team has been busy altering the Ducati for optimum performance. The race is a test on the machine just as much as it is on the rider, so after treading carefully last year the team will plan to arrive with a beefed up version of the Supertwin class conqueror.

Since returning from the Sound of Thunder meeting in February where the team came away with wins and lap records in both classes entered, they have had a number of testing days at MacNamara Park. The first saw the team dodge some unsavoury weather to enjoy a full day’s riding, much to the delight of mechanic Brian. This helped iron out a few issues with both the Ducati and Suzuki having both undergone rebuilds. The team stayed in the Old Mount Gambier Gaol for the weekend, enjoying the character of the old cells and chapel common room. Luckily Royce got his times down throughout the afternoon, so Les’ threat of solitary confinement wasn’t acted upon. The team’s latest testing day at Mac Park only last week saw another successful day of riding. With black clouds looming, both bikes were given the necessary 30-or-so laps needed to run everything in and gain more data. This was the last chance to suss out any suspicions as the bikes will now be crated and sent off to the Isle. We stayed at the Country Comfort Motel, a cosy joint just out of the Mount Gambier CBD which made it an ease to hit the track fresh in the morning.

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PIC: Royce tracking over the old Water Tower Corner at Mac Park

Rowe Racing HQ has also undergone major construction, making all this preparation far easier. The new area offers a much larger work space for the bikes, including the addition of a work bench and adjustable bike stands, bringing the bikes up to eye-level and eradicating the loss of small parts. Stoked with the new man-cave, team boss Les inaugurated the area with an angle-grinding sparks spectacular! Like most amateur firework displays, it didn’t quite go to plan and Les will now be sporting an arm-cast for the duration of our trip.

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PIC: From humble beginnings, the Rowe Racing HQ has evolved from needing professional carpet cleaning to just being straight out professional!

Another exciting addition to this year’s expedition is fellow South Aussie rider Paul van der Heiden. Paul is a regular at race meetings aboard his BMW S1000RR, but will be swapping the superbike for a slightly smaller BJR Products Manx 650 Ducati. He has been joining the team on the previously mentioned test days and has been putting in countless hours with Brian Rosser to get his Ducati prepped for this year’s Supertwin and Newcomers races. Our blog will predominantly be focusing on Royce’s exploits over at the island, so if you’d like to keep track of Paul’s progress, his blog can be seen at: http://vdhracing.weebly.com. Being a technician for Moto Adelaide, Paul’s blog discusses much more of the technical side behind the Manx 650 Ducati. So if you are interested in the nitty gritty of how the BJR Products machine ticks, head on over for a look.

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PIC: Although we didn’t always get the best weather, the necessary prep was still completed

So what’s the plan of attack? From here, we crate the three bikes (Paul’s included) and meet them over at the IOM docks once we arrive on 15 August. The team has a few days to shake the jet-lag and begin preparations for timed practice on Saturday, 20 August. The full schedule is posted below (IOM time used, we are 8.5 hours behind). We will be posting more regular updates from here on in, including instructions on how to listen to the racing LIVE. For now, if you’d like more information on the event please visit www.manxgrandprix.org.

 

Rowe Racing Schedule 2016

 

Saturday 20th August (all sessions will be untimed)

1730       1825       Senior / Junior / Classic TT 250 / Superbike (No MGP Newcomers)

1830       1925       Classic TT 350/500 / MGP Lightweight / Supertwin (No MGP Newcomers)

 

Monday 22nd August

1820       1905       Senior / Junior / Classic TT 250 / Superbike (No MGP Newcomers)

1910       1945       Classic TT 350/500 / MGP Lightweight / Supertwin (No MGP Newcomers)

 

Tuesday 23rd August

1820       1905       Classic TT 350/500 / MGP Lightweight / Supertwin / (No MGP Newcomers)

1910       1945       Senior / Junior / Classic TT 250 / Superbike (No MGP Newcomers)

 

Wednesday 24th August

1820       1905       Senior / Junior / Classic TT 250 / Superbike (No MGP Newcomers)

1910       1945       Classic TT 350/500 / MGP Lightweight / Supertwin (No MGP Newcomers)

 

Friday 26th August

1820       1900       Senior / Junior / Classic TT 250 / Superbike / MGP Newcomers A

1915       2000       Classic TT 350/500 / MGP Lightweight / Supertwin / MGP Newcomers B

 

Race Day Practices

 

Saturday 27th August

1325       1400       MGP Senior / Junior / All MGP Newcomers Qualifying    (2 Laps)

1810       1840       MGP Supertwin / Lightweight / All MGP Newcomers Qualifying (2 laps)

 

Monday 29th June

1210       1305       MGP Senior / Junior / Supertwin / Lightweight Qualifying             (2 laps)

 

Wednesday 31st August – Manx Grand Prix Race Day

1015                       Junior Manx Grand Prix Race      (4 laps)

1315                       Supertwin / Lightweight Manx Grand Prix Race  (4 laps>)

1515       1550       MGP Senior Qualifying  (1 lap)

 

Friday 2nd September – Manx Grand Prix Race Day

1015                       Full Factory Winnerswear Senior Manx Grand Prix Race (4 laps)

3 thoughts on “Here we go again…

  1. Good luck guy’s. I can’t believe it’s been 12months already. Travel safe guy’s & ride safe Royce. I will be looking forward to the updates . Sue

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