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Manx Grand Prix – 2006

MGP Review


While I have been updating the new site, it became apparent that I never actually wrote a review of MGP 06. Although late and a little small by my standards I thought id string a few word together now.

Practice week was awesome, except for the usual messing about on Saturday, will we go on time, no we won’t. I mean this is obviously the first time they have run an event like the Manx on the island, so there are bound to be teething problems. Sarcasium don’t you just love it!!!!!!!!!!

Still despite the usual messing around, only the newcomers got out. Fired up and no place to go. Packed the van back up, Monday will be a different story.

Monday came, pulled the bike out of the van, lined up on the grid and we were off. That first run down Bray Hill is awesome, obviously a little slower than I was last year, or so I thought. Well I hadn’t rode here for a year, plus on a new bike. My 600rr, with a freshly tuned engine courtesy of none other than Slick Bass. Anyway as I got to Glen Vine, and more to the point Ballascarey, the biggest smile was on my face. The bike was awesome. It instantly, like all year, instilled confidence in me, unlike the R6 from 04. I was gliding around the circuit, some say like Joey Dunlop………….only a hell of a lot slower.

I really enjoyed that lap and was even more please when I got back to the pits after 2 laps; I lapped at 106.9mph on the opening lap, bike straight out of the van and 0.8mph quicker than I lapped last year, after 2 weeks of riding. Things could only get better and faster from here. Which they did. The best thing about practice week, was how relaxed I was all week. I went out every night; I completed 2 laps and found it easy, well easier than I did in 04. Everything flowed and I wasn’t plagued with my usual arm pump problems. By the end of practice week I was lapping around 110 mph.

Then it was race week. I was really looking forward to the Junior Race. I was all fired up and raring to go. And this was my down fall. I was too fired up. I went off the line like a bat out of hell, only to be crippled by the top of Bray Hill with arm pump. I struggled through the first lap, hoping it would ease for me. Did it shite. I struggled through lap 2. It’s a real worry when you are doing speed in excess of 160 mph when you can barely even hold on. The pit stop was terrible. But that was no fault to the pit crew. It was me not relaxing. The third lap was horrible, but a little silver lining to this cloud, the forth lap, my arms gave in, and I started to relax. A little to late. I mean I did lap around 111mph, which was faster than I had ever gone, but it was horrible doing it.

I promised I would relax more before and during the senior.

I set off from the grandstand on the senior race with a totally different approach. Relax, breathe, relax. I kept telling myself, and it worked. The race flowed lovely. I was really enjoying myself. The pit stop rocked, really relaxed, I seemed to have all the time in the world. So much so I didn’t rush and punch lee in the face this time. By the ended of the race I had lapped at 111.77mph. Only slightly quicker than I did in the junior, but by Christ I had more fun doing it.

I also finished in 28th position, well chuffed with that when I started 46th on the grid.

Thanks again to all my sponsors.

  • Hairzone
  • City Butchers and Deli
  • Frank Jones Services
  • Terry's Taxis
  • HJC Helmets & Oxford Products
  • EBC Brakes & Brakes 4U
  • TK Com
  • Central Hotel and Bistro
  • John from www.fastrackimages.com
  • Richie from www.manxdesign.net
  • Royal Navy and Royal Marines Motorcycle Club
  • Slick Bass from Slick Performance
  • Brian from www.gissit.com

And a special thanks to

  • My wife Ali Callister for always being there
  • My mum
  • My brother Tony

Thank you all.

Autograph

Manx Grand Prix – 2006

Road to the Manx


In 2 days time both my wife, Ali Callister and I are leaving for the Isle of Man. I can't believe that a year has past and its time to race on the mountain circuit once again. The excitement is growing as the days to go are getting fewer.

But the Manx GP is not just about bikes, it is also my first wedding anniversary. Unfortunately it is on the Junior race day this year, so we are having it on another day so we can both have a drink to commiserate.

I have had a lot of work done on the bike leading up to the Manx. After a few hard races, like the Steam Packet and Southern 100, the beatings were starting to take their toll on the bike, with a few strange noises coming from the engine. Plus with the obvious signs of oil burning it was time to get the bike really looked at. Slick Bass from Slick Performance said he would take it on and getting her going good and proper, with a few extra horses to play with.

There were a few little problems on the way which he sorted very quickly. And he is very happy with the bike and the way she has turned out. I now have piece of mind that I have a new engine in my bike run in and ready to go, with a few horse extra to pull with. God I feel like a pro. Just turn up and ride.

Also after the S100 I was pretty pissed off with myself and my fitness. To help with the problem of arm pump, I have had my leathers expanded in the forearms to help with the blood flow in my arms. I have also started to ride a push bike 8 miles to work and back another 8 miles which has helped my CV.

So everything to play for! The bench mark was set last year on the 600 in the newcomer’s race.

106.1 mph lap (21 mins odd)

As long as I beat this, this year we are stepping forward and that is my plan. I have my goals in my head and now with the serious machinery I have, I have to stop being the average rider and up my game.

Let’s see what the Manx brings!

The one last thing I wanted to mention is just how small the world really is. Before I started road racing I did a Ron Haslam race school. And my instructor there, Jules Croft told both my brother and I that we should start racing. Which we both did. Since then I Have met Jules and his brother Justin a number of times and we have become good friends. I have just spent the weekend on Justin's Stag do up in Lincoln. Where he kicked all our ass's at Karting and got his ass shot to shit in the Paint Ball and ended up where a dress and panties for the night. Anyway Jules is also racing the Manx for the first time this year. Small world, well it gets smaller. Both Jules and I are in the senior race together. But it gets even smaller. We are on the start line together. He is 45, I am 46. Of all the people to get on the start line with, the guy who told me to go racing in the first place. Does the instructor become the student or will I still have to live and learn?

Let’s see!!!!!

Well Jules, best of luck

4 days and we are road racing!!!!!!!!!!

Autograph

Southern 100 - 13/07/06

Thursday Race Day


For the first time in a long time I was actually really nervous when I got up in the morning. I could still manage my breakfast but still I was nervous. While driving down to the circuit I found the more nervous I was getting. This I think was a good thing. I don't really get that nervous for a race meeting, but this was different.

The bike sailed through scrutineering and had the bike in the paddock holding area with the tyre cookers on. The sun was yet again blazing, although this was a little weird, seeing as the racing was cancelled the night before due to the wet conditions.

The first race of the day was the 600 B Final, for all us slow coaches who couldn't keep up with the Professional racers, like we would!!!!!!!

Because of the problems I had with gearing during the week, I decided to change my gear back to what I had at the Steam Packet races. Bingo!!!!! Back tot the lap times I was doing at the Steam Packet races. See it wasn't me that was just riding slow, the bloody bike was.

S100

The start to the race was frantic as ever. But I was really starting to get the hang of getting this bike off of the line. I made up a few places off the start, better than I ever did on the R6, usually on that thing I lost places. Going down into the first turn, Carolyn Sells past me like I was stood still. But was on the outside for the Turn. So I went back past her, up the inside.

Then when I thought we had all sorted our selves out, going over the railway bridge after Iron Gate she went back past me just before Billy's (Joey's) Gate. Christ she had balls!!!!! We stuck together for a few laps, but then the arm pump set in around lap 4.

I struggled to hold on and my lap times fell and fell. The pack pulled away. It was actually quite frightening to ride when you can't hold on. I finished the race. That was the main thing. However I wished it was over at 4 laps as it was hard to hold on and ride as fast as I was trying to do.

The second race of the day for me was the Senior Support race. Again I wasn't quick enough to race in the main senior race. I got another good start and my arms were tired but no longer pumped. I just had to keep telling myself to ride loose and stop holding on so tight.

S100

The race was again over 8 laps. I raced hard and kept good speed for 6 laps, but again on the last 2 laps I struggled to hold on. So again I slowed. However I still finished the race and finally beat my previous lap times by 2 seconds.

Overall I had an awesome time at the S100. Like Jules Croft said we are racing against the best in the world at road racing. This is the Moto GP of road racing. So I was well happy with that. The bike held out and didn't shit itself, and I improved. Still I wish I had rode harder. Then again I always will, I'm a racer and I want to win.

Roll on the Manx. I can't wait!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Autograph

Southern 100 - 11/07/06

Tuesday Night Practice


A little rushed, got a little carried away checking over the bike, suddenly realised I had to be down south in 35 mins. Ekkk, get packing!!!!!!!!!!

I arrived at the circuit, happy that the sun was shining and it was warm too. Bike went straight through the scrutineering, but a friend of my dad, Geoff Kirby was on about failing her as the spacing on the U.J. wasn't correct. I did try to get it 100% right!

I got out for my practice. I rode a lot harder than I did on Monday night. I had to take it a bit steady through Iron Gate, as a bus had spilt diesel all around it. I got my new Stomp Grips on the bike, what a difference it makes. You still have to grip the bike but no where near as hard. They just grip your leathers. Awesome bits of kit. It’s true that they also stable out the bike too.

S100

Even though I rode harder and faster, I still only improved by 4 secs from Monday nights time, however still 3 sec slower than I was at the steam packet races. The bike feels quicker, I mean, I'm wheeling out of corners and off of the railway bridge after Iron Gate, but it obviously isn't quicker. So I'm changing the gearing back to see what happens.

The only thing with last night was that I didn't qualify for the race. Still did I really think I would when I entered the 1000cc race on a 600 and up against all those loons. Still I am in the support race on Thursday. Cool!!!!!!!!!!!!

Autograph

Southern 100 - 10/07/06

Monday Night Practice


I arrived on the Isle of Man early sat morning. The crossing was ok, except for all the racers that were coming over were all there, up all night spinning dits, which made it hard to sleep. Still had worse night sleeps.

After a few hours sleep sat morning it was time to sort the bike. I spoke to Terry from Terry's Taxis and like he promised I could use his garage. Thanks again Terry. Then it was off to Lee, Mary and Zaks to pick up the fairings. Oh my god, Lee said to me when I last left the Isle of Man that he would paint my fairings, but I never expected the job he did. The paint job is awesome.

S100

Bike all sorted it was off to the first night of practice of the Southern 100.

I arrived at the circuit; the first thing to hit me was the level I am now racing at. Well you cant help and be over whelmed when people like Martin Finnegan, Cameron Donald, Iain Lougher, Davey Clarke etc are all walking around the paddock waiting like me to go out and practice. Of course I had to say hello like I've known him for years, well I had too.

The weather wasn't great for Monday practice, over cast, cold and the odd shower. Out on the bike I just didn't seem to flow as well as I did at the Steam Packet races in June. I was 10 sec a lap slower.

There was no real moments to talk about, as none happened. The only thing with the meeting is that it is so full to the hilt that we only got 2 sessions of 3 laps each.

Of course I may have been going slow, which I'm annoyed at myself for, but the weather didn't slow the pros down one bit. God they are fast. It is scary. The only thing I can think of is they are always using new equipment, well out of my budget Still it was awesome racing with the best in the world if only to be over taken by them all at some point.

Autograph

Steam Packet Races - 10th June 2006

Southern 100


When I booked this race meeting I didn't realise that this event was the Post TT races that I was letting myself in for. With most of the competitors being professional road racers, with factory machines, with no budget problems to speak of and just having competed in the Isle of Man TT races for the previous 2 weeks, I was beginning to think that I was well and truly going to get spanked!

The day was hot, I mean roasting. I didn't even think it was worth putting the tyre warmers on, as they would soon be up to temp. Like the Manx I was given a ride around the circuit before hand in a car, and was later escorted around the circuit for 2 laps behind the travelling marshal. This proved invaluable, I'll tell more later.

The first practice session was as to be expected a real eye opener. I have never rode on anything SO bumpy in my life. Not forgetting that I race motocross also. The bike and I were all over the place, the bike going one way and me going the other. Although no real jumps in the course as such, the crest before the black hole had me getting air a few times. It's a real motocross track set in tarmac. I was gripping the bike so hard with my legs that my inner thighs are still hurting and tight today, which is Wednesday.

But in all, the circuit rocked. Hard work, dangerous, but real fun. I found it harder than riding the Manx GP last year. It's more ferocious, flat out, and then brake for a first gear corner, then flat out again till the next.

Second Practice I when out again. I changed the gearing by 1 tooth on the rear. The bike was labouring in the gear she was in. It felt a lot better. I thought I was riding quiet smooth, and although I was getting tired already, thought id be fine.

As soon as I was in I was out again for another practice. Not only was the bike running hot, but so too was I. I got straight out and the first 2 corners seemed strange, I thought I was sliding when I got into Irongate. One corner no one wants to crash at, although someone did in first practice. This unsettled me a little. The next corner, applied named Joeys Gate. I came into it around 90 mph, when I hit the bump in the ground, this unsettled the bike massively. I started to head for the wall which would not have been a good move. So like Yer Maun, Joey Dunlop, I picked the bike up and shot into the field at 90 mph. Luckily I kept her upright through out, only just. I turned around and back to the gate. Then when ready out to complete the practice session. If anything, it sorted me out a little and help to carm me down. I slowed down a little and stopped pushing too hard too soon. So in my mind I have re named Joeys Gate to Billy's Gate. Thank God she was open.

Steam Packet

Race One 600cc. I was a little nervous before race one, as it was daunting to have a mass start on a road circuit. But an honour as I was about to race against the likes of Ian Lougher, Guy Martin, Mark Perret, to name a few. The last bit of advice I was given was pin it don't let off on the straight or into turn one. As the people behind you will end up taking you out. I had a good start. Better than racing that R6. Going into turn one BallaKeigan I took a couple of guys in there. Down the long straight I was along side a race mate, Adam Jones. I tried to keep with him which I was able to do. But as I was to find out, 9 laps around the Billown Circuit is bloody hard work. With 4 laps to go I faded massively. So much so that I was caught by the guy behind me and over took. I slowed to a reasonable pace so I could finish the race, in one piece.

On the second to last lap of the race I was caught and past by Ian Lougher going into cross fourways. He came from no where, nipped up the inside and gone, with a little look to make sure I was still there in one piece. And then was gone. Then the red flag was out, race stopped. Some poor sod came of in turn one. I finished in 18 th. Well happy with that. I mean the first 10 to 15 were all pros.

Race two for me was the 1000cc bike. I was still out on the 600rr. So I was expecting to get spanked. Again, I had a reasonable start in this race, only to find half way down the start straight that I had another inch of throttle cable to twist. Got to get that quick action throttle on the bike. Again I made places going into turn one, only this time I clipped the inside kerb with my knee, thought id do a ballsy over take for the cameras. I caught and past my friend Adam, that was one all. And also caught another mate Andy Cowin, I raced on hard to stay a head of them two, only later to find out they both had retired later in the race. Although I was pushing hard, I also wanted to make sure I kept my pace up for the whole race. Which I was glad I did. The biggest thing was to relax everywhere I could. It all helped.

On my second to last lap again I was caught and passed by Mr Lougher. He came from no where and was gone in a shot. I found although I couldn't keep with him, I had him in sight all the way from Ballabeg to cross fourways. Then he was gone. His bike is fast. Coming into Castletown corner. Big H overtook me, only he wanted my piece of road. A clipped me and sent us both wide. A little look round to make sure again I was in one piece and he too was gone.

The last lap was uneventful, I was happy with the meeting; I finished as high as could be expected. I also managed to keep the speed up throughout the race, with out slowing too much. Quickest lap was 92.836mph. I also was mentioned a couple of times on the radio.

The only problem now is that I need a new engine as mine has developed a knocking noise. And with two big events coming up I want to finish them both. Slick Bass, Foggies old spanner, Dyno my bike, 114 for a standard bike he was happy, he just though mine was a little tired. He has a new one for me, which is pushing out 130bhp; I'm looking at raising the money for that engine before the S100. With this new engine not only will I complete the Southern 100, but the Manx GP too, whilst on a competitive bike? Let's see what the sponsors say.

Autograph

Cadwell Park - 6th / 7th May 2006

North Gloucester Road Race Club


Let me just get this out of my system. OH MY GOD!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! That's better.

This circuit absolutely rocks. It has everything I have wanted to race on since I started to race road bikes. Fast, Twisty and undulating. And of course, The Mountain. I'm no Karl Harris, but I did get some air when the confidence grew. Ok it was only an inch but it was still Air!!!!!!! How he gets 2 feet in the air is beyond me. Respect dude, Respect!!!!!!!!!

I arrived there late Friday night, to giddy to set up I wanted to walk the track. With a little guided tour from Jamie Adams and Terry Griffith, I found myself all excited and really looking forward to the next days riding.

Up at 7, as per usual for Scrutineering. Only to fail yet again, only this time something more petty than serious and only took a few minutes to sort. I told you the bike wasn't 100% ready.

First practice. As I have never rode here before it is back to square one to find a setting. After talking to a few different riders I decide on what I thought would be best. Unfortunately this was the first, Timed Practiced, I had been in with NG, and as it was my first time here too, I had no expectations of a pole position. I found my way around, quite quickly but still only managed to qualify 30th on the grid. Then it was timed practice with the big boys. Again nothing to write home about, but my laps were already getting quicker. I started around 2.06. but was down to around 1.58 by the end.

The 600 race. As I have already mentioned I started in 30 th. Finally, with some help from Brian Woodcraft from Gissit, I finally have a way of getting of the line, A LOT better. Already I made up places, around 4 I think. Into the first turn and as always it was manic, but I held my line and force my way past a few more. I had a hard race which lasted 10 laps around 17 mins, the longest I had raced on a short circuit but I loved it. I had some good dices with people, and was glad that I didn't loose out to sheer power. I finished in 15 th overall. Well happy, imagine if I had started further up the grid?

Cadwell Park

Sunday, It pissed it down all night and most of the day. First the mad rush of getting wets on my spare rims. At this event I only had one spare set. So I waited till the morning to make sure that it was wet and not intermediate conditions. Now came the fun. The people I was up at Cadwell with were not happy that it was raining. Me on the other hand was happy that it was. This was going to be a good day for confidence building. After all it was on a day like Sunday that I broke my collarbone last year. Jamie Adams said that he struggled in the rain and he would like to follow me. No probs until he fucked off into the spray and disappeared for the whole practice session. I took my time to learn how the bike felt in the conditions. By the end of the session I was more than happy with the bike and the tyres. Bring on the Race!!!!!!

Apart from the slide I got over the mountain in practice my confidence was growing as the day went on. And with it my lap times began to also fall. By the end of the day I was only 7 seconds a lap slower than I was in the dry. I pushed hard off the starts and in the corners, as I became more confident I also began to force my way through the field. The only moment I had, but then again so did everyone else was on the start. We took off down to the first corner, and with all the spray all I could see was one bike. Faith in yourself and all the others was needed. By the 3 rd corner the snake was in place and finally we could all see.

Overall the weekend was awesome. I had a dry race and I had wet races, with a couple of intermediates thrown in for good measure. I use the weekend as another building block, for my confidence to grow. Cadwell is an awesome circuit and one I will definitely have on the calendar again.

Next meeting is the Road Race event at Jurby. For the rest of the year I am doing all road events. So yet another learning weekend for me. I can't wait.

Thanks to Tim, Tony, Sally, Richard and Pam for coming to Cadwell to support and help me. Mother Dear I know you were there too in sprit as was Tony my Bro, but in fact was in Florida Racing at Jennings and entertaining his first crash. Well done you!!!!!!

Autograph

Donington - 22 April 2006

North Gloucester Road Race Club


This was the first race of the season for me. It's been a while coming. Six months since I last rode a bike. Brand new bike, new leathers and lots of goals to achieve by the end of the year. Because I was away at the start of the year with work in Norway, not only did I miss the test session, I also missed the first round of the year at Pembrey. Yet again I miss out on a chance of trying to complete a club championship. So I have set new goals for the year. One being compete in more ROAD race events. The other problem for me was that I had bought a new bike over the Xmas period and being away meant I had to again rely on my friend and mechanic (SGT) Si, Knoxville, Parsons to build my bike and get her ready.

Donington Park

As always time ran out, which left me putting the finishing touches on the bike until midnight before racing the next morning. Work done bike ready I make my way over to scrutineering at 7 in the morning. Only to have the bike fail for break lines. Here starth the panic. Luckily I was able to buy braided hoses at the track and change them there and then with the help from Brian Woodcraft from www.GiSSet.com.

Scrutineering closed at 9. At half past I quickly get in my leathers and rush the bike over, with Ali my wife running behind with the scrutineering card and helmet. There was only 3 practiced sessions left and if I didn't make it out in one of them I wouldn't be allowed to race. The bike passes and was put out in the last session. Finally 10 mins to breathe and compose myself before riding.

With all that went on in the morning I never actually got a chance to get the tyre warmers on before I rode. Nice one, cold track, new bike and new leathers, fingers crossed there are no new leather jinx about today. I mean the odds were against me.

Donington Park

Practice was slow as to be expected, this was the first time I had actually rode this bike. The first 2 races were a little poor. I was over taken a lot when I thought I was riding hard. Only to realise I was being far too cautious. Not the right attitude for racing. So I started to push. Never made up any places but I didn't loose any more.

The last race of the day was by far my best. I was 10th on the grid. I tried yet another method of starting, to finally find one that actually worked for me. Into Redgate I was 5 th. Well happy. So I pushed hard to try and stay if not pass the guys in front. Then on the 3 rd lap this guy tried to overtake me into MacLean's. Only his line was just asking for trouble. As he went wide I tried to go back past him on the inside, Moto GP Style, only he got on the gas far too early. His back end let go and next thing he is totally side ways in front of me and I am just waiting for the bike to bite and spit him skywards. Which it soon did. Great, last race of the day and I'm trying to avoid riding into a spinning Gixxer 600 which is right in front of me. I knew the pack were right behind me so to avoid getting hit up the arse I decided to go left in stead of right and onto the grass at around 80 mph. Just as I got along side him his bike almost took me out. But I managed to get back on the track and continue.

The only thing was, while running in 5 th my confidence was soaring. I never had my usual worry about tyres and grip I was just getting on with racing. Then with that happening and going onto the grass at 80, sort of knock my confidence a little. It took me about 2 laps to get my head back into gear. I lost a few places in the process which I was unable to get back.

Overall I was more than happy with how the day when. First meeting of the year new bike, new leathers, never rode it before now, there was only one way I could use the meeting and that was a test day and feeler day. Get to know the bike and blow all the cob webs out and polish all the rust away from a winter with out bikes.

Roll on Cadwell in 2 weeks. By then all the teething problems of the new bike should be sorted and I should have a good weekend.

Over the weekend I saw Jamie Adams, Gary Morris and Steve Pooley racing, Its good having so many from the Navy and Marines all riding at the same club, although in different classes. It makes for a good weekend. Good luck lads at Cadwell.

Autograph

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