Gary Johnson

Fast Bikes - - COLUMNIST -

Some­times it just is what it is. I don’t re­ally know where to start with this year’s TT, but any of the guys rac­ing it will be singing from the same song sheet when I say we had naff all track time. That’s no one’s fault, but the weather re­ally did us over and there wasn’t re­ally much the or­gan­is­ers could do about it. I guess it was in­evitable, though. I mean, the weather’s been ab­so­lutely mint these past few years so there had to come a TT where the rain did a num­ber on us. For those who’d clocked the miles testing and were on the pipe from the off that proved less of a prob­lem, but it caught me out a bit. My whole team’s been through hell and back to get our bikes to the level where they are, and I’m proper grate­ful for ev­ery­one’s graft. It’s not easy run­ning a pri­va­teer out­fit, but hav­ing the kind of mates I’ve got around me cer­tainly makes it a damn sight eas­ier.

When we ar­rived on the Is­land I’d say we were about 85% there with the bikes. There’s al­ways a bit of faffing around once you get there, but that’s not nor­mally an is­sue. The prob­lem is that with less track time, you’ve got less chance to find – and cure – your hang-ups. The Tri­umph was prob­a­bly the least of my con­cerns. John Trig­ger knows them Trum­pets bet­ter than most and he had the triple run­ning a right treat. It went well in prac­tice, and I think peo­ple were sur­prised that we were run­ning right at the pointy end from the word go, hav­ing lucked out on the North­West 200. We were pretty pumped by that, and the WK was work­ing well too, but we’d changed the way we sourced the power from the mo­tor and that bit us on the arse a bit – it just didn’t have the low down oomph that you need around there. As for the Suzuki’s, they han­dled mint around the TT course, but my stocker had this stupid lim­iter en­gaged, mean­ing I topped out at 186mph ev­ery­where. Ev­ery man and his dog was blitz­ing past on the straights and there was did­dly-squat I could do about it. The su­per­bike runs a rac­ing loom, so thank­fully that wasn’t suf­fer­ing in the same way. I’ve rid­den a lot of bikes around the Is­land, but those Suzukis han­dle bet­ter than most other things I’ve rid­den around there. The only prob­lem is they could be a bit flighty on the front end, which was a prob­lem we tried in vain to bin-off in prac­tice.

By the time the rac­ing started, things weren’t look­ing too bad, though I had an is­sue in the first su­per­bike race and never went the dis­tance. The su­per­sport race got de­layed be­cause of the weather and we ended up rac­ing it with some pretty scabby wet patches ex­actly where you don’t want them. I’m not go­ing to lie, I thought bet­ter of it. I saw on my board that I was P3 a lot of the time, but after a few big mo­ments I just edged the pace off. I’ve stacked it on damp patches be­fore and I didn’t want to do the same again. Plus I thought I’d save my­self for the se­cond su­per­sport race, which sod’s law got can­celled at the end of the week. The stock race was a bit of a night­mare and I had to pull in from that one, while my WK/CFMoto 650 Light­weight weapon had enough of me sad­dling it and de­cided to spring a leak. It was one of the self-in­flicted va­ri­ety, rather than a me­chan­i­cal fail­ure, but either way it meant I had to get off the track pronto.

Race week rounded off with a red-flagged and re-run Se­nior, after Hutchy’s big crash. It went okay but it also could have gone a whole lot bet­ter. It was a big learn­ing curve with the Gix­ers, but I know now what we’ve got to do to get them work­ing how we want them. They’re right weapons, as Dun­lop proved. We could just do with a bit more time and help to get them where we want them. On a fi­nal note, just a quickie to say thanks for the peeps that hunted me down and said hello at the TT. It’s al­ways great to meet you guys, so don’t be shy if you see me out and about.

It wa s n ’ t Gar y ’ s b e s t e v e r TTTT, b u t h e c ame aw ay saf e and w i s e r.

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