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Michael Rutter TT blog: "It didn't go quite as planned"

By Michael Rutter -

TT & road races

 09 June 2009 14:12

Saying yesterday didn’t quite go to plan for us in the Superbike TT race on the Bathams Suzuki or in practice on the JMF Millsport supersport bike is a bit of an understatement.

We finally got our engine back at 10pm on Sunday night so it was all a bit of a rush to get the bike rebuilt for Monday’s rescheduled Superbike TT.

Remember, I’d not managed to get more than two laps on it in one go so the six-lap race was going to be a real test for myself, as well as the bike.

The engine felt pretty good  from the start but the throttle we had on it was so heavy. We had started practice with a road throttle, which took two bits to open it fully, so we got a replacement flown in from Crescent.

It was a kit throttle which was good but we had no chance to set it up and test it so it was just a case of bolting it on and go to the start-line.

Mistake. The thing had a shorter throw than the road throttle but was so heavy it felt like pulling on a lead weight and in no time my hand was numb and my forearm was just rock solid (arm-pump).

But I just had to hang in there and when Conor Cummins came by me soon after the first pit stop at the end of the second lap, I decided I’d try and tag onto the back of his bike. That was fine until Ballacrye when I hit this bird at about 140mph.

It smashed the screen and spattered it self all over my shoulder.

You can see the mess from the photos. And, before anyone asks, the ‘Since 1877’ logo on the fairing is not my age, it’s part of a Bathams Brewery logo we never had time to finish putting on!

I was okay after the bird strike, but I suddenly realised just how a screen helps the aerodynamics of a bike. The buffeting from the sidewinds on the Mountain totally changed how the bike handled.

I decided to carry on with the fourth lap and then get a replacement screen fitted at the pit stop. Even back when I used to help my Dad in the pits at the TT we always had a spare screen sat there just in case – and the boys had one there waiting this time.

I think I was eighth at the time and still had the fourth lap to do but it felt like I was head butting a brick wall when I got up to 180-190mph. Going down Bray Hill and along past the Highlander it was just unbelievable.

The wind pressure was hurting my forehead so much.

But when I clicked top gear along the Sulby straight the top of the gear lever sheared off and once I got to Ramsey I had to pull in.

It was a lightweight lever, made from aluminium and would be fine on a short circuit but it just couldn’t take the hammering on the TT course

We’ve replaced it with a steel one for the Senior. I was gutted we never got a finish. Eighth would have been okay and a just reward for all the effort everyone has put into this. Still, that’s the TT for you.

I felt so battered after that, I had to sleep for an hour but then we had a practice session on the supersport bike. I needed it, since last time I rode the bike we had a flat battery.

The session was brought forward so it was all a bit of a rush and looked like we were only going to get a single lap. I asked the lads if we were fuelled for two and they said it was, but I’d only get the one lap anyway.

But when I came through after the first lap, the road was still open and the organisers were letting us have two laps.

I got as far as the Black Hut, half way up the mountain when the bike spluttered to halt. Sure enough it was out of fuel! I was stuck up on the bloody mountain for two hours!

I blame Stuart Easton. Well you’ve got to blame someone haven’t you and he’s already said to me, “I suppose I’ll cop the flak in MCN because you ran out of fuel.”

Too right.

Now we’ve got the Supersport race today so I better had dash off and get ready.