How To: Follow Royce’s live racing… and other breaking news

BREAKING NEWS: The planned post will continue below, but we would like to inform fans that Royce has changed numbers for the Junior races. Originally number 44 aboard his Suzuki GSX-R600, the officials have moved Royce to number 29. Although a tad frustrating to change fairings at the final hour, it does give Royce less traffic to deal with and a clearer run. Being a superstitious family, we were worried Royce’s favourite number of 4 (doubled in this case) was gone, along with his luck. But, Manx luck has it that champion Adelaide racer and long time friend, Bill Horsman has rode with number 29 all his life and also won a Classic TT here many years ago. Also, Andrea Iannone has recently earned stripes on board his Ducati winning a MotoGP race in Germany sporting number 29. At the end of the day, it’s up to Royce to make his own luck.

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The Rowe Racing Team have a busy day of racing scheduled for Wednesday, with Royce competing in the Junior race at 10.15am (6.45pm ADL time) aboard his Suzuki GSX-R600, then hopping straight onto his Manx 650 Ducati alongside rider Paul for the Supertwins race at 1.15pm (9.45pm ADL time). Being a pretty friendly hour for our fans back home, we thought it’d be a good idea to give everyone a basic run-through of how they can be a part of the action! We realise technology can be a fickle mistress, so although this process worked for us, it may take an undefined amount of profanities and keyboard bashing to make it work for you! If worse comes to worst, tune into Manx Radio online to hear updates.

STEP ONE: Visit the webpage http://www.manxgrandprix.org and you should be shown the screen below. Click on the ‘Live Timing’ block to the right that we have circled below.

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STEP TWO: After clicking on the ‘Live Timing’ link, you SHOULD be taken to the login screen below. Some people have just had an error page come up, but have then again tried closer to the racing time and the page has worked. Once at this login screen, type your email address that you can check straight away and a password of your choice. You only receive the one email, there’s no spam or constant hassling after signing up.

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STEP THREE: Check your inbox for an email from the Isle of Man TT Live Team. It should look like the one below. Click the highlighted link, which will take you to the Live Timing page.

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STEP FOUR: Now on the live timing page, you can follow riders as they pass through different areas of the track. As it refreshes, the top rider should appear with his/her lap time and bike number. This can also be done by smart phone, there’s just less detail shown on the live timing page. Grandstand mph is the actual speed the bikes pass at, while just ‘Grandstand’ is the final timing point, so the time given under this banner is the final lap time for the rider.

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So, hopefully this makes following Royce back home a bit easier and enjoyable. And, to make it very clear, Royce is now number 29 for the Junior aboard the Suzuki. He remains number 11 for the Supertwin race, which takes place after the Junior race in the afternoon.

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PIC: The Rowe boys visited the Governor’s House tonight, shaking hands and trading stories with local identities. The big question was will we be back…
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In other news, the shock horror story involving the broken rear-shock on Royce’s Ducati after the crash and Paul’s leaking rear-shock has been resolved. Yesterday, Royce went out for one lap of practice before the team worked furiously to then rip it out and place it in Paul’s bike ready for his Newcomers B race, trying to give Paul the best steed possible. This obviously worked a treat as he came away with top spot!

The leaking shock, repaired with bits from the broken shock, is now ready to roll… or push. The spare, decent shock is now permanently in Royce’s bike. The whole team is now wondering how it’s possible we could have gone through that many shocks, of all the parts that could have possibly gone awry when Royce threw the Ducati into a gutter at speed.
We’ll be posting constant updates on our Facebook page tomorrow, but keep an eye out here for a full race wrap-up tomorrow night. Paul has a Newcomers function for the team to attend, so the wrap-up will be either later than usual, full of colourful language or both. We can’t wait to tackle a big day, bring it on!

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Things are coming up Rowe-house

After a stressful weekend sourcing parts, replacing engines and Royce repairing wounds, things are finally starting to look up.

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PIC: Royce off to the back nine before jumping on the bike later
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This morning the team took Royce out past Hillberry, the closest part of the track to our accommodation, then up to Kate’s Cottage in the van with the Ducati. The engine went in overnight without too much fuss. The only trouble was with a timing gear that wasn’t quite right, promptly sorted out by spanner-men Brian and Locky. So to run it in, Royce was let loose at the drop point past Kate’s Cottage. As mentioned in yesterday’s blog, a rider can take his machine to and from the Grandstand an hour before or after the event, so although it may not have been the ‘direct’ route, we headed towards Douglas from there.

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PIC: Give way to horses and passing race bikes
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Royce thundered past police and the general public in their hatchbacks with nobody as much as batting an eyelid. Being a race engine, just this short distance was extremely beneficial as the only Isle of Man road track was closed today. The team then made their way to the paddock for 12.10pm practice. Only planning to complete the one lap at half-pace, Royce set out taking the bike to basically half-throttle. By half-way through the lap, Royce was feeling the engine slowly loosen up and the connecting parts bed-in nicely. Pitting straight afterwards, Royce still managed to clock a 108mph lap. The other top riders were around the same mark and also only completed the one lap – obviously everyone had the same idea of saving their engines for the big race this Wednesday.

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PIC: Royce passing over Braddan Bridge during his practice
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In other exciting news, our fellow Rowe Racing Team rider Paul van der Heiden competed in his Newcomer B race tonight at 5pm. Knowing he would be around the mark we had our hopes set high, but Paul went one better and crossed the chequered flag to win his race by just over 10 seconds! Paul had no idea he had actually scored the win when returning to the pits, such is the nature of time trial racing. Ecstatically jumping on the podium, the team were down below in pit lane to wear the dregs of champagne. Although over the moon, both Paul and Royce move their attention to Wednesday’s Supertwin race. And before that, Royce has to consider his attempt at the Junior aboard the Suzuki 600.

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PIC: Our man Paul van der Heiden celebrating his first place finish
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Tomorrow is a day off with no racing scheduled. The Classics had their final race today, so only Manx GP races are scheduled for Wednesday and Friday. This means more room for the team to watch and the ‘1964 TT / Old Guys Rule t-shirts’ ratio has suddenly dropped. We’ll be spending tomorrow giving all three bikes a final service before Wednesday’s races. Tomorrow night, rider Royce and media-man Leonard will be visiting the Governor’s House to meet the notables of Isle of Man society. It should be a great opportunity to spruik the team’s efforts in coming over to the Isle and promoting the festival back home.

The Duc’s guts are off

As previously mentioned, the Ducati returned from it’s first lap out after crash repairs with an odd rattle. Running a few tests pointed towards a broken bearing inside the engine. Without actually knowing exactly where or what, the team opted to perform major surgery – pulling the damaged engine out and bolting the new one in. We also didn’t know if the impact from the crash had loosened or damaged other parts we aren’t aware of yet, so the fresh engine was definitely the safest option.

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PIC: A proper naked Ducati 650

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Mechanics Brian and Locky have spent the majority of the day performing the procedure, slipping out in the afternoon to checkout the Jerby Festival of Speed. The guys will more than likely be working on into the night trying to iron out any of the smaller issues with the fresh metal. With all this focus on the Ducati, it has taken some emphasis off the Suzuki for the Junior/Senior races. Royce was placing about tenth in the Junior practice, so as long as he focuses on both there may still be another reason to congratulate the team.

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PIC: Prepping the donor for surgery

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We’re hoping to get the bike out for a test to run in the engine, but that may prove to be difficult. Unfortunately, the Jerby road circuit is closed, as that would have been perfect for this scenario. We’ll just have to find an alternative or be forced to use the last practice tomorrow afternoon to let Royce slowly run the bike in. The organisers are very understanding here, even allowing competitors to ride their race machines on public roads an hour before or after their event to make getting home easier. Plus, basically anything with a motor is road register-able here – spotting blokes popping down the shops on their dirt-track sidecars has been a laugh. We love it, but can’t imagine the fun police back home would consider adopting the laws.

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PIC: The team trying to find the rattle once Royce had returned from his initial lap

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So, all things going to plan (ha!), we’ll have the bike back up and running by tonight, run in tomorrow and practicing tomorrow night, ready for race day Wednesday… Check back in the coming days to hear how it all actually pans out. Let’s just say we’re all hoping for a bit of Irish luck!

Two steps forward, one step back

Saturday brought along the festival’s first full day of riding, rather than the 6pm road closure and ride until sundown. Royce had Junior/Senior practice aboard the Suzuki GSX-R600 scheduled for 1.25pm, which set off around 10 minutes late due to the first Classic race of the festival taking place beforehand. The team was watching from Quarter Bridge, so luckily the five-deep crowd of beige clothed spectators hobbled off after the race, leaving the full corner in clear sight for us.

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PIC: Royce heading through Quarter Bridge
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Setting off in a busy session, Royce blocked out his niggling injuries from this week’s crash and set a starting lap of 115mph. Coming around for the second time, Royce got held up with a yellow flag, giving those watching on live-timing some serious heartburn. This slowed the lap terribly and he was eventually flagged to return straight to the pits, therefore not crossing the line. The initial lap though was faster than yesterday’s, so at least we know he’s on the mend and still slowly improving aboard the new bike. As we found early on with a few practices being back to back, much like his endurance racing back home, Royce tends to perform better as he warms up – getting his eye in and riding in the ‘zone’. This may just be beneficial come Wednesday as his Junior race will end as the Supertwin race begins.

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PIC: There’s plenty of pubs along the Mountain Course

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The Supertwin practice began at 6.10pm tonight. After seeing the damage done only a few days ago, we all had our concerns that we might not have the means to bring everything together. The clock was working against us for a while, but thanks to some long days and hard work from Brian and Locky, as well as Les sourcing parts and Ali delivering them, it has shown the just rewards from the tenacity of a tight team working towards a common goal.

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PIC: The very last corner of the track at Governors 

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Setting out, Royce was tentative with the bike, knowing that many parts had only just been bolted on. Also, the team had tried to alter the rear sprocket by losing one tooth. It didn’t take him long to get back into the swing of things, posting a 109mph lap. Although being able to go straight past the Grandstand for another flying lap, the team had already decided to have Royce come in to check over the bike. Unfortunately, Royce had noticed a slight engine rattle and not enjoyed the gearing change.

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PIC:The team trying to diagnose the problem, while Milky informs us the session is about to end

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It’s unlike any other rattle Brian has heard, so it’s very hard to diagnose the issue – especially without any showing symptoms apart from the noise. So, Royce obviously chose not to head out for another lap. Back at HQ, the team are now pulling bits apart and trying all methods to find the problem. The other option to consider would be putting the spare engine into the Ducati. This hasn’t been run in, so would require us heading to the local track at Jurby to clock up some hours. As well as the obvious man hours of pulling out the old one. Whatever we do, it needs to be sharpish as Monday will be our last chance to practice before Wednesday’s race. We’ll keep you updated with the latest plans of attack.

Back on track

After a decent day of rest, Royce has jumped back on the bike tonight and returned straight to his previous speeds. Although being a bit sore and having a finger wrapped, Royce set out bravely to learn his lines aboard the 600.

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PIC: Royce tracking past the Creg-ny-Baa Pub

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Completing two laps, Royce pushed hard to clock in at 111.9mph on his first and 114.6 on the second. The Ducati parts have arrived with friend Ali, who enjoyed coming out to watch the racing after a 30 year hiatus from the Isle of Man. With the Classic TT running in conjunction with Royce’s practice session, many of the bikes were exactly as she remembers.

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PIC: Nurse Rosser has done a tidy job keeping Royce’s knee strapped tight

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Team Principal Brian Rosser has spent a long day slowly pulling apart and putting back together the 650 Ducati. All the parts are now here and ready to be assembled. There are just a few technical issues being sorted before we wheel the old girl through scrutineering to see whether the organisers are willing to have us back!

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PIC: Cunning Stunts from the Purple Helmets

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The rest of the team visited the Grandstand during the afternoon to check out the opening of the Festival of Speed, the official name of the Manx GP fortnight which includes the Classic TT. There were rider interviews, local bands, stalls and a stunt show by the Purple Helmets. It’s hard to describe for those who haven’t seen the lads perform before, but they are an institution of the TT and definitely worth You Tubing – especially the methane man and pole dancer stunt.

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PIC: Royce heading down the mountain past Kate’s Cottage on the way to Creg-ny-Baa

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Tomorrow is predominantly focused around the classic racing, but Royce will still head out for a qualifying session. Unlike a traditional qualifying session in racing terms, this is aimed towards riders who have not yet made the cut-off time to enter the race. Fortunately, Royce has already qualified for his two races as far as time goes, so the qualifying sessions will be used to slowly adjust back to racing after his fall.

Getting back on the bike

After a late night from the initial shock of Royce’s off, the team has gathered their thoughts and assessed the damage. Apart from a bruised knee and general soreness, Royce has pulled up alright. A good night’s sleep and day on the couch has served him well, with plans to jump back on the bike (Suzuki 600 for the Junior/Senior practice) tomorrow he’ll need all the rest he can get.

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PIC: We’re not sure to be worried, but Royce refused to take the dress off for hours…

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The bike, on the other hand, is a bit worse off than first expected. Although being laid down on the right-hand side, the rear-wheel has hit the gutter with an impact of extreme force. This has buckled through the rear suspension, basically crumpling everything that is connected at the tail of the bike. The rear rim itself hasn’t bent, which is a testament to Carrozzeria rims. The rear axle and ‘bars are broken, but easily replaceable. Unfortunately the frame has cracked in half, which has been the most difficult part to source.

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PIC: Some major surgery is needed on the Duc

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So, the plan of attack? Hit the ground running with the help of some great people. Royce’s leathers had numerous holes and tears, so local friend Jamie, who has helped us with bits and pieces in the past, put the call out for a sewing whiz. Moments later we were on the way to the village of Peel to meet Christine, a leather specialist. Dropping everything to help us, we were told to kill time for an hour or so, which was filled in by fish ‘n’ chips by the seaside. The leathers were patched up to perfection. We couldn’t be more grateful of Christine’s work.

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PIC: The whole left side copped a battering

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Next was trying to source the parts needed to repair the wounded Duc. Just to test us, Monday is a bank holiday in the UK, making it basically impossible to get the parts required freighted over to the Island. Unfortunately, the Island itself hasn’t got a wreckers with the bits needed. Fortunately, team members Deb and Greg Lock have a friend in the North of England who was willing to drive four hours to Hull in order to pick the frame and other parts up, before then shooting over to Liverpool to catch the 3am ferry to the Isle of Man, delivering our desired parts by 7am tomorrow morning. What a woman! We can’t thank Ali enough for going so far out of her way to help the team keep the dream alive. We’ll have a Manx kipper roll and luke-warm O’Kells Bitter waiting for her on arrival.

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PIC: Pieces of the puzzle come apart

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We’ll be placing (literally) Royce on the Suzuki tomorrow, but it’s unlikely the Rowe Racing Manx 650 Ducati will be ready to ride. With all things going to plan, provided head honcho Brian Rosser and mechanic Greg Lock don’t pass out from exhaustion, we will have the Duke back up and running by Saturday practice. This then gives Royce the chance to make up the needed amount of laps to qualify for the Supertwins race.

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PIC: The brains of the operation picking the brains of the machine

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Amongst all the madness, team rider Paul has been continually impressive aboard his Ducati 650, leading the Newcomers B group with a 106mph lap. Brian and Locky have still needed to remain sharp with Paul’s bike, so you can imagine the weary heads around the dinner table… at 9pm after 7pm practice has concluded.

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PIC: Royce’s two steeds side-by-side ready to ride… almost

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With an injured body, Royce got the rare chance to stand on the other side of the fence to watch the bikes tonight. We all revisited The Nook with him to check the dodgy spot and thank the marshalls for looking after him. After waiting for a solid hour, we were told a bike had fallen and caught fire, setting the road alight too. This caused enough damage to warrant road repairs, so coupled with fog rolling down the hills it was enough for the Clerk of Course to call the night off. So our team rider Paul was left hanging at the line and Royce never got to see a bike from the spectators point of view.

Check back tomorrow for how a bruised but not beaten Royce fairs on the Suzuki, as well as updates on the extensive Ducati repairs.

Royce down, but not out

An eventful Wednesday night practice has left rider Royce Rowe battered and bruised, but the encouraging results have outweighed his minor fall.

The initial session for the Junior/Senior class aboard the Suzuki GSX-R600 was a mighty improvement on the past few days, with Royce’s two laps clocking in at 112.9mph and 113.5mph respectively. Being his first year on the Suzuki, seeing his times slowly climb are a good sign.

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PIC: Royce getting to grips with the 600

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Jumping back out on the Ducati, Royce was released with a relatively clear track due to an earlier red flag which released half the field then stopped them at whatever point they were at along the track, before slowly allowing them back to base under yellow flags. Following the current Supertwins leader, Royce passed the grandstand on lap one with a 109.8mph time, his fastest ever aboard the Ducati 650.

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PIC: Royce really hooking in over Ballaugh Bridge

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Heading through each timed speed trap, Royce picked off the top riders one by one, eventually making his way to top position through Ramsey. Continuing his flying lap, obviously in the zone, Royce was fastest again through the mountain section down to the Creg, looking to be on track for a 110mph lap. Then, tipping in through The Nook (right-hander), Royce noticed his shoulder brushing the hedge too early, indicating to a rider that his exit for the corner will be wider than desired. To combat entering too early and hot, Royce has tried to crank over harder which has resulted in tucking in the front. With the front letting go, Royce has gone down and begun to slide on a damp track. This has actually worked in his favour, helping him slide along without too much abrasion. It was a quick entry and slide, so hitting the gutter sent Royce and motorcycle cartwheeling through a picket fence. The impact was far worse on machine than man. Basically everything on the right-hand side has been worn down – handlebar, lever, pegs, fairings. Most worryingly the rear axle has snapped from the abrupt impact of hitting the gutter. Luckily, and weirdly considering we forgot many basic items, the team has a spare!

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PIC: After the initial check over, it was back to Aussie larrikin mode

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The team has a busy day ahead tomorrow repairing the bike as best we can. Royce was taken to hospital, but released a few hours later after precautionary checks. He has abrasions to his right elbow and chin, plus general soreness all over. Of all the places to learn the limit at the Isle of Man, this would be it. So, after Mum got over the initial shock and we realised the dream wasn’t over, smiles returned. As ridiculous as it may sound, especially knowing the dangers this course holds, the brush with danger has brought us all closer and the team is more determined than ever to help Royce achieve his best results. We may even pass a hat around to chip in for the local’s picket fence repair costs.

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PIC: Cranked past the Raven Hotel as punters look on

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Luckily tomorrow is a free day, so Royce can rest up – not that he needs an excuse to sleep-in. Paul, our fellow team rider, will still be heading out as a newcomer to gain more track time. He has impressed greatly so far, leading the Newcomers B group with a 105mph lap today. To be clocking in at that speed on only his third official lap of the circuit is hugely impressive, we can’t wait to see how he fairs in the coming races. Compared to some of the extravagant teams in the paddock, we are very proud of how we handled a hectic session and recorded some fantastic results.  If they didn’t notice us before, the movers and shakers will definitely be taking notes next week!

Tuesday practice goes ahead

With rain and fog forecast, tonight’s practice session looked doubtful. Huddled around the radio at 4pm, the team heard the delayed news at 5pm that practice would in fact go ahead. The more laps the better for Royce, and especially Paul our newcomer, so it was welcomed news.

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PIC: Royce making the most of the early clear lap on his Suzuki GSX-R600
The day itself started off with a bang, opening the morning paper to find a write-up about the Rowe Racing Team by local sports journo John Watterson. He was an extremely lovely man who came to visit our makeshift workshop a few days earlier, having a lengthy chat to the team and reminiscing with Les about TTs past. If you’re reading from Oz, it’s unlikely your local newsagent would stock the Isle of Man Examiner, so this picture of the paper and a freshly brewed Manx coffee will have to do! Don’t worry, we’ll be bringing plenty of copies home with us.

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PIC: We made the local paper!
The day itself was spent changing oil and trying to diagnose the Suzuki’s issues. We took the 600 to the guys at EvoMoto in Ramsey to dyno the machine, hoping to diagnose the problem. Unfortunately, as Murphy’s Law goes, it ran perfectly and showed no signs of the power troubles it had given Royce heading up the mountain. With suspicions pointing to a clogged fuel filter, the team has now swapped to the spare tank, hoping this may eradicate the problem.

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PIC: Royce tipping in to Hillberry corner
When the time came to head out, the Suzuki performed well with no issues, so the problems are at bay for now. The first lap posted was 109.1mph, before fog started to settle on the mountain the second time around, forcing the session to be abandoned. All wasn’t lost though, as the yellow flags came out two-time TT winner Gary Johnson passed Royce, tapped his behind signalling for Royce to follow and led him back to the Start-Finish line – some valuable lines and knowledge was gained. Having the same trouble of needing to jump straight from the 600 to the Ducati, Royce was lucky to score a quick breather as the officials held up the Supertwin practice for 10 minutes while the fog rolled back down the hill. Setting out in damp conditions, Royce squeezed just the single lap in of 104.4mph. The top 10 Supertwin riders are only separated by 3mph, so we’re hoping for some exciting racing ahead in the pocket rocket class.

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PIC: Royce getting back into the groove on the 650 Ducati
Tomorrow looks to be a fine day, with only some small cloud. Unfortunately the Classic bikes have control on Thursday, which will be a much needed day of rest for the team before Friday practice which looks to actually be a rather hot day – in English summer terms.

On the road again

After a tedious wait over the weekend, the team finally got the chance to hit the road tonight. Getting up bright and early we had our doubts, with rain and fog still covering the island but by lunch the sun was out drying the roads. By mid-arvo the clouds had disappeared and the mountain was bathed in sunshine – it was so clear the Motherland was visible across the Irish Sea.

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PIC: Even the cats are brave on the Island

 

Our second rider Paul headed out for his first ever sighting lap, followed by Royce on his GSX-R600 in the Junior/Senior category. He managed to squeeze in two laps, his first ever on a 600cc machine. His first from a standing start clocked in at 107.7mph, with the second falling much lower. This was due to Royce having to nurse the Suzuki back home for almost half of the second lap after feeling some minor issues poking their head through. The bike has never seen a test like this, so we were expecting some small niggles to pop up. Luckily Brian is up for the challenge.

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PIC: Team rider Paul on his first ever flying lap

 

The Supertwins practice was straight after the Junior/Senior, so with Royce realising he would only fit the single lap in anyway, he took a five minute breather before heading out on old faithful. Obviously enjoying being back in his element, Royce clocked a 104.6mph lap, slotting him in as fifth fastest. It’s early days yet, but getting back to similar times he posted last year is a great sign. Royce said, “Finally after waiting for what seemed to be an eternity since the last time I rode round the Isle of Man, I got to set off Bray Hill throttle pinned.
I was out first on the Suzuki, and being my first time round the track on this particular beast, I’ve got a lot to go to tame it. My first impressions on the 600 was, I couldn’t imagine what this is like on a 1000! There was a lot of wrestling with the bike as the front was light most of the time going over bumps wanting to lift up. With corners coming up a lot quicker I had to be on the ball straight away after a year away from the track. Half way through the second lap, the bike started to lose power whilst full throttle, this proved to be rather annoying, so I had to nurse the bike back in, not being able to pull over because I had my Ducati session waiting for me. Brian has a feeling it’s got to do with the fueling so we shall have a look at that tomorrow.
The Ducati went swimmingly and felt strong, I only got 1 lap on it so I can’t wait to get back out there.”

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PIC: Royce powering through Kirk Michael on the Suzuki

 

Tomorrow sees us complete the same format of practice. The day itself will be spent going through a safety checklist on each bike and trying to diagnose the Suzuki’s niggle.

First practice cancelled due to bad weather

Tonight’s first practice has been cancelled due to poor weather conditions. Although hopes were high at our 12.30pm technical briefing, the Clerk of Course, Gary Thompson, has just announced that due to incoming heavy rain the sessions will have to be abandoned.

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PIC: Footage from the Bungalow webcam this afternoon

Last night the Island copped some heavy rains and wind, damaging parts of the track near Ramsey. It hasn’t stopped drizzling all morning, with the heavens expected to open around 5pm. The Newcomers first sighting lap was scheduled for 5.30pm, which included our second rider Paul, which wouldn’t have been safe at all for first-timers.

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PIC: Visibility on the mountain was terrible yesterday afternoon

The team was prepared anyway, so now we just move on to Monday with our fingers crossed. Tomorrow is a non-race day, so some more twiddling of thumbs will be completed as we wait with baited breath. Unfortunately, this feeling is somewhat reminiscent of last year’s first practice week. Hopefully we’ve seen the last of this terrible weather and can get down to business on Monday!

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PIC: When in the Isle, do as the Islanders

In the meantime, the team has decided to keep precision training up by working on Royce’s hand-eye coordination. It seems most scousers visit the ‘Cat with No Tail’ when the weather is monkey’s, so while the boozer is full of well lairy lads we might have a bit of nosh before nicking off to Bedfordshire.