TT Dream: Mission Accomplished!
11 June 2013
It has been quite a journey, especially over the last few months, but at 10.15am on Friday 7th June the 2013 Lightweight TT race got underway, and I was there, 34th rider away to blast off down Bray Hill.
It was a very humbling experience to race against so many established names at the TT, including the likes of Cameron Donald, Conor Cummins, James Hillier and Michael Rutter, and I loved every second of it.
In such an environment it's fair to say that my only expectations from the race were to enjoy myself, get a safe finish and hopefully not look too out-of-place in such company, but all racers are competitive people and I had also kept a close eye on the times during practice.
The lap record had been broken the previous Saturday by Hillier, who raised the bar to 115.6mph, and talking to other riders around the paddock the general feeling was that the record would probably go even higher in the race, to 116mph or even 117mph.
That meant an expected overall race pace (including pitstop) of around 115mph. My best lap in practice, at 106.5mph, therefore put me right on the cusp of the pace needed for a bronze replica (finishing within 110% of the winning time), and so this was naturally in the back of my mind.
The race itself was a blast. I rode my heart out and hit 107.01mph from a standing start on lap one, and 107.84mph despite slowing for the pits on lap two, easily my fastest times of the whole fortnight.
The team did a great job in getting the bike turned around quickly and, not counting the slow first sector for the pitstop, I then hit personal bests on every sector for the rest of the final lap, to bring the bike home in 25th overall. It was a really wonderful experience.
As for the bronze replica, having bettered my practice times by so much to produce a race average of 106.8mph, I was really hopeful that I had done enough. But Hillier had produced a blistering pace throughout, including a final lap of 119.1mph, obliterating the existing lap record by approaching 4mph, so it was going to be tight.
Agonisingly, with Hillier producing that final lap, the cut off for a bronze replica stood at 106.9mph, so I missed out by the tiniest of margins.
Nonetheless it was a really good result and I can't complain. I gave it all I had and rode the best I could. It has been such an adventure from start to finish, a real rollercoaster, and despite missing out on the replica I have at least shown that I am worthy of a place in the TT paddock, and that is what I am most proud of.
I have so many people to thank for their help in getting to the TT that it would be a very long article in naming them all, but I must mention my fiancée Karolina, my Mum Paulette, and my pit crew of Danielle, John and Stuart. Without them, this dream would have been impossible to achieve.
And finally, a big thank you to Crash.net for allowing me to write up this blog. I hope that you have all enjoyed reading it.