Isle of Man TT legend John McGuinness writes an exclusive diary for bikesportnews.com throughout TT 2019…
Well, after 23 years of racing at the TT, some things never change and we’re back to the standard bad weather – it’s proper miserable today…
As it stands though, we’ve had two nights of practice so far and I’ve managed eight and a half laps so we’re doing what we can. Conditions have been far from ideal and although it didn’t seem to bother some people, I thought it was pretty horrendous on Tuesday evening, with the wind and the cold some of the worst I’ve known.
Back to the first night though and I got three laps on the Padgetts 600, which all came together last week, and two and a half on the Twin so it was a reasonable start. The 600 is absolutely mint and Clive and his team really know how to put together a good bike so it felt good to be back among the Padgett family.
The 650 is lovely to ride and there are lots of things that we can change plus it has loads of potential so we’re moving forward all the time. It handles well and stops well but while it’s been good to get out on it, there’s no denying that we’re down on speed although we’re moving forward all the time.
We’ve a different engine here to what we had at the North West and we’ve got more power so that’s moved us forward but the gearing wasn’t right and I wasn’t able to hold it flat out along the Sulby Straight.
We’re making a few mistakes but everyone’s on a massive learning curve and it’s gone from the drawing board to the track in a very short space of time so if we can get the three bikes to the finish, I think everyone will be happy and we can come back stronger next year.
With nearly six laps, I made the most of the time that was available on Sunday but it’s been a stop start affair and we lost Monday night so it was another gap before we got back out on track on Tuesday and, like I say, conditions weren’t the best for the big bikes.
The Superbikes always make the heart race and when I was standing on the start line looking down Glencrutchery Road, I was thinking ‘oh dear’ once more but we got away OK.
The wind was bad straightaway though even at Bray Hill and on the run to Ballacraine and I haven’t felt as cold on the bike as what I did last night in a long time. The sun was also worse than what I remembered in places so I need the confidence to start coming back and the more laps I do, the better it will be.
The track was pretty green and there wasn’t much grip out there while I also got tangled up a bit with the yellow flags so the lap times weren’t the greatest but it wasn’t the kind of night to be pushing. If I’d have strung all the sectors together though, it would probably have been around the 125mph mark.
I’m enjoying being back on a big bike and so far the Norton has met my expectations. It’s powerful, the engine’s strong and there’s nothing wrong at all with the stability so there’s no need for me to reinvent the wheel but I need more laps. The more I do, the more I’ll settle down and the more I’ll understand how it behaves rather than trying to predict it like I am at the moment.
I got black flagged at Sulby, mistakenly as it turned out, but I got three laps on the Superbike and that’s an encouraging start.