TT 2022: Rutter’s Diary - Episode Three

| | TT and Roads
Picture: Impact Images

I was looking forward to going back out for the daytime practice on Friday as we had lots to try on the bike including the fuelling and also getting the bike to settle more over the bumps. The bike felt a bit loose and skitterish through the bumpy places and I wanted it to flow better from Ginger Hall to Ramsey.

Unfortunately, the weather delayed everything until the evening, and it was a shortened session than planned whilst I was a bit scared of the sunlight to be honest as it was so bad earlier in the week. Daytime practice would have alleviated that although it turned out not to be an issue on Friday evening.

The damp patches were the worst bits and although it was mainly dry, there was the odd bit here and there, so it was in the back of my mind, and you had to take some corners a bit wider than normal. To be fair, it was only really damp from Whitegates up to the Gooseneck and there were oil flags and lack of adhesion flags out.

I also got caught up in the aftermath of Mike Booth’s crash up on the Mountain where there was debris all over the track so obviously wish him a speedy recovery. I slowed down a lot for that although it was another session where I got caught up in things in the wrong places.

I was still stuck at the 124mph mark and with a six-lap Superbike race at the back of my mind, I was definitely feeling the pressure. Starting at number three, I thought I’d be really enjoying myself by the start of race week but with my speeds being down, I was just conscious of not getting in anyone’s way.

My mindset wasn’t the best to be fair and the biggest mistake I’ve made is not riding enough – I’m way off the pace and know it. I know I can go through some of the corners 20mph quicker but it’s not quite as easy as that! With the TT nowadays, I think you need to either race full time or not do it, to be at the sharp end anyway – you can’t do it half-hearted.

I’m quite jealous of riders who can just turn up and ride and I’ve got that involved with running the team, it’s taken elements of my riding away so, at some stage, will need to make the decision to either go back to racing full time or run the team full time.

Anyway, back to the Superbike race and I was definitely a bit nervous at the start as, like I say, I didn’t want to get in anyone’s way or slow them down. Once I got away though, I really enjoyed myself and after practice, it was like a switch had been flicked. Hutchy overtaking me helped me an awful lot as I was able to latch on to him and get back into the swing of things more.

He looked really smooth and safe, and he pulled me along. It boosted my confidence and got me out the rut I was in so much so that I was back up lapping at 128mph. Gaining 4mph is quite a gain but the quicker you go, the more you enjoy it and more relaxed you are.

We had a bit of a slow pit stop and I lost Hutchy, and James (Hillier) so was back on my own again but that was good for me in the latter stages as I was happy again with the pace I was running. I felt I could have done it all day.

To get to the 130mph mark though I need to push on again although the good things is that I was on my Superstock yesterday whereas the majority of riders in front of me were on their Superbikes. That should bring me closer to them in tomorrow’s Superstock race.

After a three-year break, I’ve forgotten what it’s like to complete a six-lap race and it really does take it out of you – since the race has finished, I’ve felt like a zombie!