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The Isle of Man Tourist Trophy

The Isle of Man TT, a race like no other

Around this time every year something very special happens. Hoards and hoards of bikers descend on a small island in the middle of the Irish Sea for one of the world's greatest motorsport events, the Isle of Man TT. Two weeks of man and motorbike being pushed to the limits around the famous and awe inspiring Mountain course. How did it all begin though? And what's on over the two weeks? Read on to find out...


History

The first ever TT was held in 1907 around the 15 mile St Johns short course. Riders completed ten laps of the circuit on their motorcycles which by regulation had to be road legal so all included mudguards, exhaust silencers, saddles and pedals. Though I wouldn't want to go far without a saddle... There were two classes of machine, single and twin; Charlie Collier at an average race speed of 38.21 mph won the singles on a Matchless and Rem Fowler riding a Norton took the twins with an average race speed of 36.21 mph. Norton still run in the TT today, it's been a rough journey but they return this year with a bike built around an Aprila RSV4 engine, it'll be interesting to see what it can do, it's a long time since that first win...

Over the next three years the bikes got faster, rules and regulations changed to slow them down but they just got faster still. Then in 1911 the Snaefell Mountain course was introduced. Testing the bikes to their limits the Mountain pushed advances in technology and the bikes got better and better. The popularity of the TT grew and more people came to watch the riders race around the island. As things were really starting to develop though, World War 1 broke out.

The next TT wasn't until 1920. Over the next ten years the bikes continued to get faster (In the Senior TT race of 1926 Jimmy Simpson on an AJS motorcycle did the first 70mph lap) and the fatalities greater. But this did not stop the racing. More and more bikes came and more classes were introduced. The new lightweight class for 250cc machines brought in manufacturers such as Motor Guzzi. By the 1930s the Isle of Man TT was the most prominent motorcycling event in the world. This accelerated bike development once again as manufacturers strove for faster lap times. Supercharging, over-head camshaft engines, plunger rear suspension, and telescopic front forks, new engineering marvals to gain speed and increase handling. This is often considered the golden age of the TT.

World War Two interrupted the TT but it returned in 1946. In 1949 it was host to the first event of the Motorcycle Grand Prix World Championship (MotoGP these days) and would be its home for the next 25 years. Bike development as well as the development of the series rolled on and the TT continued to grow. The dangers of the course eventually won out though and after the death of Italian rider Gilberto Parlotti in 1972, even reigning world champion and 10-time TT winner Giacomo Agostini, announced that he would never again race on the Isle of Man. More and more riders joined the boycott and by 1976 only a few remained. In 1977 the event was held at Silverstone.

Since then things have pretty much carried on as normal. The bikes have got faster, the riders more daring. John McGuinness holds the record for the fastest ever lap with a time of 17:21.99 which is an average speed of 130.354 mph. That's a long way from the under 40mph laps in the early days. To this day the Isle of Man TT continues to develop motorbikes. The Zero TT is a race for perhaps the future (I'm not yet convinced) Electric bikes, though they are doing over 100mph lap times now.


The Course

The mountain course is like riding nothing else. Think this man describes it best. He doesn't know the names of corners but he certainly knows the roads.

Guy's Lap Part 1

Guy's Lap Part 2


Practice Week

The TT takes place over two weeks in May and June. The first week is marked for practice as riders and teams get to test their motorbikes and get the set up right for the all important race week. It's also a chance for new riders to get to grips with the course.

Tuesday, May 28

18.20-19.05 - Superbike/Superstock/Supersport/Newcomers (except Lightweight)

19.10-19.55 - Supersport/Lightweight/Newcomers (all solo classes)

20.00-20.50 - Sidecar

Wednesday, May 29

18.20-19.55 - Superbike/Superstock/Supersport/Newcomers (except Lightweight)

20.00-20.50 - Sidecar

Thursday, May 30

18.20-19.10 - Sidecar

19.15-19.55 - Superbike/Superstock/Supersport/Newcomers (except Lightweight)

20.00-20.50 - Supersport/Lightweight/Newcomers (all solo classes)

Friday, May 31

18.20-19.10 - Sidecar

19.15-19.50 - Supersport/Lightweight/Newcomers (all solo classes)

19.55-20.25 - Superbike/Superstock/Supersport/Newcomers (except Lightweight)

20.30-20.50 - TT Zero

Saturday, June 1

15.25-16.15 - Supersport/Lightweight TT Qualifying

16.15 - TT Zero Challenge Qualifying

Monday, June 3

12.30-13.00 - Sidecar TT Qualifying

15.45-16.30 - TT Zero Challenge Qualifying

Wednesday, June 5

15.50-16.15 - Senior

16.20-16.45 - Lightweight


Race Week Schedule

Race Week is where the real test begins. Riders line up in a number of different classes and compeat against each other against the clock. In other words the fastest rider round the course, wins.

Saturday, June 1

11.00 - Dainese Superbike (six laps)

14.00 - Sure Sidecar 1 (three laps)

Monday, June 3

10.45 - Monster Energy Supersport race 1 (four laps)

14.00 - Royal London Superstock (four laps)

Wednesday, June 5

10.45 - SES TT Zero (one lap)

12.00 - Monster Energy Supersport race 2 (four laps)

14.15 - Sure Sidecar 2 (three laps)

Friday, June 7

10.15 - Bikesocial.co.uk Lightweight (three laps)

13.00 - Pokerstars Senior TT (six laps)


This week as the riders get in the all-important practice before racing begins they'll be soaking up as much of the course as possible. The trick according to John McGuinness is to just go out and ride, see what you can do. Easy for him to say but perhaps that's why John's so fast. Josh Brookes has impressed already by using just that method though. There's no pressure on him and he picked up the fastest time in the first practice session. That's the beauty of the TT though, anything can happen. Keep up to date with my Facebook Page as well as ITV4 who have great coverage, make sure you don't miss a thing:


ITV4 Coverage

Tues 28th May

9pm: The Perfect Lap

Wed 29th May

9pm: Operation TT

Thurs 30th May

9pm: Preview Show

Fri 31st May

9pm: Qualifying highlights

Sat 1st June

9pm: Superbike TT Race

Sun 2nd June

9pm: Sidecar TT Race 1

Mon 3rd June

9pm: Supersport TT Race 1

Tues 4th June

9pm: Superstock TT Race

Wed 5th June

9pm: Supersport TT Race 2

Thurs 6th June

9pm: Sidecar TT Race 2

Fri 7th June

9pm: Senior TT Race

Mon 10th June

6pm: Review Show

Posted on: 27.05.13 - Big Ed
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