Getting further into the festival, the Rowe Racing Team has begun to see more fans around the paddock. It’s great to hear an Aussie accent abroad, so we thank everyone who has shown support, plus those keeping tabs via this blog!
PIC: Royce needs an extra push in the mornings to get out of bed, luckily Beth has arrived to keep him in line!
The forecast wasn’t looking good on Friday, but with Manx Radio playing in the workshop, on-air presenters informed all competitors practice would be going ahead. We were lucky for most of the practice session until visibility on the Mountain deteriorated.
PIC: Once again, the Ballacain laundry has been transformed into a makeshift workshop for the Manx GP
First out was the Triumph. The team had made a number of suspension changes and are still moving forward with finding the ideal settings. There’s definitely more work to do.
PIC: Royce had his work cut out for him on the Trumpy (Credit: Tracey’s Pictures)
Our biggest problem was changing the steering damper. The original was causing concern so we put another damper on, which failed shortly into the first lap. Royce persisted and still stayed out for two laps but the bike was difficult to control as the front wheel was flapping from lock to lock. Despite the handling issues, Royce posted a 117.5mph lap which slotted him at seventh fastest for the Junior and ninth for the Senior.
We have changed the damper and made further suspension changes, so tomorrow will show if we’re better off. There could be other teams going through similar issues who are yet to show their full potential on the time sheets, which all adds to the excitement and drama of race day on the Isle of Man.
PIC: Mountain visibility can change from clear as day to pea soup within a lap
As visibility worsened the session was shortened, meaning Royce was still out on the Triumph when the session for the Ducati had started. When he came in, Royce gave a quick debrief on the issues to the team mechanics before then jumping straight on the Ducati, setting out 15 minutes late.
Royce only got to Union Mills when the session was red flagged due to an incident on the Mountain. This means all riders must stop wherever they are on the course.
PIC: Close competition through Sulby Bridge (Credit: Steve McDonald Photography)
Royce was amongst five or six riders who were ushered off the track at Union Mills. One rider seemed to know where he was and where to go, so Royce followed the group which wound its way through the back roads to Douglas, then along the Promenade and back to the pits, weaving through peak hour traffic and at one stage riding behind a police van.
There’s not too many places in the world you can ride a fully-blown race bike through the main street without turning heads. The team plan to bring this revelation back home and have Royce wheelie the Duke through Rundle Mall on his way to Mallala next month.
PIC: The Trumpy became harder and harder to handle throughout the session (Credit: Nick Wheeler)
After an eventful night, Royce said, “After the change in steering dampers, which we thought was going to be a step in the right direction, I was left wrestling the ‘bars for a lap – which was hard work!
“I only got about a minute on the Duke before the red flag came out and the session was abandoned. The spot we were halted was on a backstreet at Union Mills. I saw a couple riders head down the side street, assuming marshalls had ushered them that way. This turned into a half hour trip back to the pits via the docks and Douglas Promenade.
“At a set of traffic lights I pulled up next to a Classic racer I had been following and said, ‘I hope you know where you’re going, because I’ve got no idea!’
He replied in a thick Swedish accent to follow him and we made it back just fine. It all made for some great Go-Pro footage riding through the town – you wouldn’t experience anything like it anywhere else in the world!”
PIC: The team when first arriving on the Isle, which seems long ago now! (Credit: Tracey’s Pictures)
We have another night of working late to try and improve matters and are out earlier tomorrow as Saturday practice for the Triumph is around midday (9pm EST), followed by the classic races and parade runs throughout the afternoon. The Ducati is out at about 6pm, which will hopefully (fingers crossed) give us the chance to string together a clean lap.