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.[...]

In other TT news, yesterday was also Conor Cummins’ birthday; we would like to wish a belated Happy Birthday to Conrod - we were going to publish a piece to that effect yesterday but the aforementioned tragic events took the wind out of our sails.

Meanwhile, there has been news that people have been stealing signs from around the Mountain Course, presumably as souvenirs. If this is true, this is a very serious offence, since the signs are an essential part of riders’ and spectators’ safety; also this means that the Course Marshals have to devote precious time to replacing the signs. The people responsible for these thefts should be ashamed of themselves and we hope that any further thefts will be dealt with in the correct manner by Manx police. If you want to bring back a memento of this year’s TT races, the correct thing to do is to buy official TT merchandise. The Thruxtonian encourages any race fans who see somebody making off with course signs, or who are approached by people offering them for sale, to contact police forthwith.

Photo source: iomtt.com

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