Tonight’s practice was about as chaotic as it gets. And the chaos was caused by a need to allow all the riders to test their pit lane limiters against the new 60kph limit.
To test it the solos had to run after the sidecar practice. All the solos lined up in the paddock area beneath the pit lane access rode and one-by-one funnelled up onto the course. The paddock resembled the chaos of years ago when practice was always set off in similar way.
Worst still was when the solo guys got out onto the circuit, there were a succession of yellows for outfits that had broken down and Hutchinson related the tale of a pool of oil in one place, that luckily was off line.
Previously the method of slowing the bikes on the approach to the pit lane was to have a ‘stop-box’ – a square on the road that the riders had to stop in, put one foot down and then accelerate to their pit.
The problem was the bikes were at speed from Governors along the Glencrutchery Road and there was always a risk of someone losing the front end and sliding off the bike. I don’t remember any nasty incidents but there were times when riders barely stopped and didn’t even bother putting their foot down yet still got away with flouting the rules.
The other - bigger - problem was the speed in the pit lane. Modern bikes accelerate so fast that the bikes were still doing over 100mph in the pits and that was simply an accident waiting to happen.
Hence the new speed limit restriction. Most of the top riders I’ve spoken to agree it’s a good idea in principal but most would have preferred to have kept the stop box too so they had a braking marker to aim for. They fear being that no one is quite sure exactly where the limit starts or ends and the penalty for going one yard inside the restriction zone above the limit far outweighs the crime.
I can see the point but I also agree with Clerk of the Course Jim Parker that if it’s a 60kph limit, it’s 60kph and you can’t go handing out dispensation to maybe cover someone missing the braking point by even a few inches.
With the stop box though the penalty for missing it was 10s. But with the new restriction, the penalties are much harsher and it’s not just pit lane entry and exit speed that will be measured. There are five ‘loops’ along the pit lane wall so the speeds are constantly being monitored.
Going over 60kph but not over 80kph will earn a rider a time penalty of 30s. Over 80kph but not over 100 it will be 60s and over 100kph it will mean disqualification from the race.
So going even 61kph will effectively ruin a top rider’s race. I sincerely hope everyone has their pit lane limiter electronics dialled spot-on – and that they know exactly where to hit that limiter button.. Otherwise I think we may be dealing with some controversial decisions come race week.
Things here that you just don’t see at short circuit races:
- A lap that takes over 17 minutes.
- Mechanics blowing out fuel tanks to gain a little bit extra capacity in orders to go full race distance.
- Mechanics fitting flip-top Monza fuel caps for pit stops (secured by R-clips this year for the first time ever).
- Mechanics taking their bikes through scrutineering every single day.
- A board on the startline telling riders of road conditions around the course.
- Riders jumping from a superbike to a superstocker and then to a supersport bike in the space of one practice session.
- Riders getting a bollicking for taking a short cut back to the pits after hitting a problem just before Bray Hill (Guy Martin). Was he really expected to sit the entire
- session out by his bike when there was an alternative?
- Leopard-skin coloured tyre warmer covers (Guy Martin’s pit again)
- Newcomers having to do one controlled lap behind an experienced TT rider/marshall before being allowed onto the course alone.
- Riders setting off in pairs for practice.
- Riders setting off one at a time in the races.
- Riders saying hello to the fairies.