Michael Rutter blog: “I was looking forward to a good lap”

Published: 05 June 2009

Everything was going fine last night. I’d done a 125.5mph lap and was looking forward to a really good lap but we hit a few problems – as you can and often do at the TT.

We were down on speed early in the week so Dave Hagen re-mapped the engine management system for us. Wednesday night it was better although the tick-over was still a bit high but last night the bike felt good.

We’d been down 20mph on top speed until Dave re-mapped it and we got back 10mph by me revving it a bit more. I’d been revving it to 13,000rpm and last night I was taking it to 13,500rpm.

We also altered the gearing so that I was coming back two gears for corners instead of one. That meant I was able to drive off the corners faster.

But the bike started overheating and we ended up with a blown head gasket. We’ve been running a stock radiator and maybe that’s not enough.

For the roads you also run gauze over the front of the rad to prevent stone damage but I think we’ve got the gauze too close to the radiator, which doesn’t help.

The engine boiled up on the return road after I’d finished my lap. The engine’s like a massive heat sink and once I pulled off the track to come back into the paddock there was no cool air going through it and it popped the head gasket.

After practice we stripped the bike down and dropped the engine off at Dave Hagen’s at 10.30pm. He rang at 2.00am to say not only had we done the head gasket, we needed to replace a gearbox bearing too.

This morning we’ve organised for the spares to be flown into Ronaldsway airport from Crescent Suzuki down in Verwood and they’ll arrive at 2.00pm today. That means we’ll miss practice tonight but we’ll be okay for the Superbike race tomorrow.

But we’re going to be busy all day. The bike is stripped right down and it feels like we have parts scattered all over the Island right now.

I’ve had so much flak about the colour of the bike I’ve found a local firm who are going to respray all the bodywork with a brighter yellow. That should shut everyone up!

I could have done with practice tonight if I’m honest. The bike is fine. It handles well and is stable in a straight line which all you can ask of a bike around here.  But I could have done with a couple of laps to get myself more comfortable.

But we’ll be alright. That 125.5mph I did last night included time lost slowing down. I had a bit of slide and thought it might have been caused by an oil leak.

I didn’t pull over and stop but slowed right down to take a good look at the bike to make sure. Better to be safe than sorry, but it could have been a much faster lap time without that.

The times up front are fast aren’t they? Conditions were absolutely spot-on last night. The light was perfect and you could see every kerb.

There was so much rubber down it was like a short circuit so I’m not surprised there were some quick laps.

Overall, I’m happy with the way things are going. You can always do without problems but that’s the nature of the TT.  I’m really looking forward to tomorrow’s race, though it’s hammering down with rain this morning.

If it’s like that tomorrow it could really throw a spanner in the works for some people.