Road racing is inimitable in numerous ways, and the TT even more so: the event itself, the surroundings, the riders the history. Aside from the end-of-season party in Valencia, when would you get Rossi, Marquez and Lorenzo in the same room, sitting at the same table, swigging ale and having the craic? You wouldn’t.
The three-day frenzy started with an inner city skids and wheelie session involving the top boys: John McGuinness, Gary Johnson and the Dunlop brothers riding through London is a recipe for mischief, although we’re slightly saddened to hear there were no arrests. The group moved en masse to the Isle of Man for a few days with journos and hire car laps, before the annual public gathering hosted by
Ant and Dec James Whitham and Steve Parrish.
If you watched the evening do via live stream trickery, you would have noticed the superfluous alcohol consumption, pure banter, relaxed atmosphere and the odd rape reference. There are no airs and graces in the TT paddock, no bullshit, no media-polished robots: the racers are here to race for the love, not pick up pay cheques and wear sunglasses, which is refreshing in the world we live in. There’s also an unconditional respect among these racers.
But what have we learnt in the past few days? Well, it costs roughly £10 a lap to fuela Ford Fiesta with Peter Hickman driving. The lanky Lincolnshire racer blew the back doors off record book in 2014, lapping at 129mph and becoming the fastest ever rookie at the TT in the process.
After the evening bashment and a few more jars, myself and John Högan-Dazs (an editor of a lesser publication) – decided another lap with Hicky (who’s teetotal) was essential. With just over 37 miles to tackle and the Fiesta offering 68 miles on the digital fuel gauge, we all thought the empty road sortie was dans le sac.
Oh no. Just as we approached the 33rd milestone, the Fiesta spluttered and the dash illuminated with warning lights. She’d died. Panic set in. The beer bottles were empty and there were still 5 miles to complete, not to mention a plethora of hills still to confront.
We could see the lights of Douglas teasing us, but Hicky was convinced we’d get a fair way coasting. Somehow, we managed to cruise down the hill, past the Creg and halfway up Hillberry, before pushing for 100 metres to the summit. And unbelievably, the Fiesta’s sparrow-limbs got us to within a few metres of our hotel.
It’ll go down as a classic night in my book.