Tuesday, 28 May 2013

TT 2013 - Monday evening Practice Session

What a way to start serious proceedings in the first proper practice session of this year’s Isle of Man TT. Unfortunately I’m not talking about fantastic course conditions or blistering lap times. No, Monday evening’s practice session was one of those moments that you wish had never happened.

The weather had been bad all day and, as the practice session drew nearer, there was much debate about whether or not to go ahead with the evening's proceedings. It was cold and wet, the roads were beyond damp and as if that wasn’t enough, mist was announced on the mountain. Nonetheless, the roads closed pretty much as per schedule and, just before 7 PM local time Clerk of the Course Gary Thompson announced that the session would go ahead, albeit untimed and only for Superstock and Supersport bikes.

Despite the adverse conditions, speed trap times were pretty good, particularly from the top riders: John McGuinness and Cameron Donald both posted speeds of 174 mph through the ‘trap and later, Dan Kneen upped the mark to 184 mph. Meanwhile, Chinese rider On Jai was finally able to do his first laps of the Mountain Course behind Richard Quayle; the Chinese entrant was unable to take part in Saturday’s newcomer session due to an electrical fault on his machine. Brandon Cretu, for his part, had a rather embarrassing moment when he dropped his bike just out of the start gate; however he took that one on the chin in fine style, even posting a humourous tweet about it on Twitter.

Yoshinari Matsushita

However, all the mirth was soon knocked out of the evening. At around 7:30 PM the session was red flagged after an incident at Ballacrye. News later came through that 43 year-old Yoshinari Matsushita, riding for the Tyco Suzuki team, had unfortunately lost his life during the accident. Ironically, just a couple of hours before, the Tyco Suzuki paddock area had been all smiles as Hector Neill and “Yoshi”, as Matsushita-san was known to everyone, posed for an official photo session. Although Yoshinari Matsushita had been racing on the island since 2009, this year’s TT was his first ride for one of road racing’s top teams. The Thruxtonian would like to extend its condolences to Matsushita-san’s family and friends, as well as to the Tyco Suzuki team: Hector and Philip Niell strike me as being of that rare breed of team owner/managers who consider their riders as “part of the family”, so one can imagine that this tragic loss will have affected them profoundly.[...]

Saturday, 25 May 2013

2013 Isle of Man TT

Yes, it’s that time of year: the Isle of Man Tourist Trophy fortnight is once again upon us! This year, The Thruxtonian will be attempting to bring you as much news as possible from the TT practice sessions and races via our blog page, our Facebook page and our Twitter account.

As ever, Practice Week will get underway this evening. The Mountain Road will be closed at 5 PM, followed by the rest of the course at 6 PM. The first bike is due out at 6:20 PM. Tonight’s action will consist of newcomer laps for solos (bikes) and sidecars, led around by the Travelling Marshals, after which the solo newcomers will be unleashed on their own, along with the Lightweight and Supertwin machines. The newcomer sidecar outfits will round off the evening’s proceedings.
A classic view of Kate's Cottage from Creg-ny-Baa

The weather today on Ellan Vannin is sunny and calm and temperatures are expected to reach 16º C (61º F) this afternoon. You can listen live to tonight’s practice session on Manx Radio TT, which broadcasts on 1368AM, 100.6FM on the northern portion of the Mountain Course and 87.9FM in the Douglas area, as well as over the internet and via the Manx Radio TT app ( for iOS & Android) for road racing fans around the world.[...]

Monday, 20 May 2013

Irish Humour

Amongst all of the images of this year’s rain-sodden North West 200 - Jamie Hamilton paddling one of his team’s hand carts down the starting grid, impromptu rain shelters that McGyver would have been proud of, the BBC Northern Ireland commentary box looking like the bridge of the Costa Concordia (complete with three disreputable-looking matelots) - and wild rumours of space-hopper races, parade laps by the local fishing fleet and that the viking ship on the Ballysally roundabout had magically come to life, sprouted a crew and raided Portrush (though I hear that this mainly occurs on Friday nights once all the pubs have closed), this wonderful feedback sheet filled in by the corner marshals at the Hillcrest post is a pleasantly witty summary of the event. It is interesting to note that the “Marshalling Team” page of the official NW200 website includes the following (under)statement: “Possible challenges may include variable weather conditions”. Indeed...
Is the Chief Marshal called Noah?

The next stop for the road racing circus is the Isle of Man TT. And all things being equal it’ll probably start snowing (again) by then!

Tuesday, 14 May 2013

Biltwell Gringo: Si, Señor!

After the recent revamp of their El Fuerte DOT-approved open-face lid, which has transmogrified into the Bonanza, the Biltwell crew have finally unleashed one of the most awaited products of 2013, the Gringo full-face helmet. Surfing on the neo-retro and custom trends, the Gringo is the latest old-style full-face crash helmet to arrive on the marketplace, joining the Ruby Castel, the GPA Pure and the soon-to-be-released DMD Rocket.

White is the new black - even if it's vintage...

The shape of the Gringo’s outer shell is quite similar to the Castel’s - minus the central ridge - in that it is pretty much generic late-Eighties/early-Nineties and that it doesn’t have a visor. However, its styling is more reminiscent of Mad Max than the Champs-Elysées; it goes great with a beat-up denim or leather cut (indeed, Biltwell also make a very smart denim cut, by the way), road-dirty jeans and scuffed-to-Hell-and-back boots on a righteous old-skool chopper or 70s/80s Japanese bike, whereas the funky French headgear is at its best with designer rags on a haute-couture bistro-racer. It’s also easier on the wallet than the sumptuous French item and possibly you won’t mind when it picks up a scuff mark or two, like all helmets eventually do however careful you are: with a few “battle scars” the Gringo will look even more hardcore. [...]