After all the months of preparation, perfecting the bike, rounding up a crew, training and racing, TT2013 is finally upon us. Well, just about, as I'll explain.
To be honest, practice week has been one of the toughest and most frustrating racing experiences I have ever been through, not that I was expecting anything less. But rather than being tough in the sense of getting to grips with this monster of a race circuit, it has been quite the opposite – tough in the sense of not getting much of a go at it at all!
The idea in practice week is to go out for most, if not all, of the evening sessions, getting two or three laps a time, building up the pace. What none of us had expected in advance is that TT 2013 might turn out to be one of the worst practice weeks in the history of the event for just plain bad luck.
It actually started very well, as last Saturday brought gorgeous weather and I was straight out at 100mph on lap one, and looked good for 103mph on lap two when an oil leak brought me to a halt at Waterworks. No drama, the weather was lovely and the whole of practice week was ahead of me... or so I thought.
Fast forward one week to what was supposed to be the start of racing, and the only action I had seen in the meantime was a solitary lap on Thursday night, at the very back of the Superbike practice. Rain had limited Monday and Wednesday practices and wiped out Tuesday all together. That meant that come Thursday, no one had even run a Superbike yet, and so the Supertwin practice was initially cancelled, but later amended to allow us one lap.
As if that wasn't poor luck enough, come Friday and the best weather of the week, and a house fire in Kirk Michael limited the session to just the big bikes, and once again the Lightweight practice was scrapped. Talk about tough to take.
So a week into practice, day 9 on the island, and I had two laps to my name. The frustration was indescribable, especially as most of the other Lightweight runners had been totting up the laps on 600cc machines in the meantime.
Thankfully, we finally got underway properly yesterday (1st June) with a long session that allowed us to run 4 laps back to back, in which I lapped at a best of 106.5mph. Given that James Hillier broke the lap record at 115.6mph, I was really, really chuffed with my pace, as this not only qualifies me for the race but puts me right into the midfield and within the pace needed in the race to earn a bronze replica.
So from despair has come hope and real optimism heading into Race Week. Plus it has reminded me just what an amazing experience it is to come to and race at the TT. We have another practice on Wednesday night which should yield a couple of laps, and then onto the race early on Friday morning – I can't wait!
I hope that you're all enjoying following the TT action at home, and I look forward to letting you all know how my race goes. Fingers crossed!