Race of at­tri­tion

Classic Racer - - PADDOCK GOSSIP -

THETT Moun­tain Course is un­for­giv­ing on both man and ma­chine; it lit­er­ally takes no pris­on­ers. Of course it should be, af­ter all the­tourist tro­phy came in to be­ing as a way to give pi­o­neer­ing tour­ing ma­chines a true test of en­durance, some­thing the ba­sic roads of the Isle of Man cer­tainly did in 1907, and was noth­ing to do with en­cour­ag­ing tourists to the Is­land, as some ‘his­tory’ books would lead you to be­lieve. That orig­i­nal St John’s Course was a mas­sive chal­lenge for those early ma­chines; ba­si­cally pedal cy­cles with an en­gine added, but check the his­tory book to see that an amaz­ing num­ber of starters fin­ished the races. The move to the Moun­tain Course, ba­si­cally the lap used to­day, brought a whole new di­men­sion, with the climb from Ram­sey and the alti­tude at Snae­fell of­fer­ing even more of a chal­lenge. But through in­ge­nu­ity and de­ter­mi­na­tion races were won even af­ter the rider stopped to re­pair a punc­ture, and a large per­cent­age com­pleted the course. Speeds con­tin­ued to rise, the course, es­pe­cially the road sur­face, im­proved and en­try num­bers climbed, but still the fin­isher list was long. So can any­one ex­plain why the at­tri­tion rate in the Clas­sic TT is so high? The course in many ar­eas would be al­most un­recog­nis­able to the rac­ers of the Six­ties; as a for­mertt racer I hes­i­tate to say eas­ier, but cer­tainly ‘im­proved’. Tyres, sus­pen­sion, and ma­te­ri­als have all de­vel­oped dra­mat­i­cally too, and yet half the en­try fails to fin­ish the race. Is it that the ma­jor­ity of ma­chines run con­verted road en­gines? Are they all tuned be­yond safe lev­els? Do thett stars rac­ing at the front have less me­chan­i­cal sym­pa­thy? I hon­estly don’t know the an­swer, so per­haps a wiser per­son than me can ex­plain? Malc Wheeler

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