ISLE OF MAN TT COURSE

Some­thing rather spe­cial and sin­gle-minded is needed for roads as in­tim­i­dat­ing as these

Evo India - - CALIFORNIA SUPERBIKE SCHOOL - WORDS by HENRY CATCHPOLE

AS YOU REACH FOR THE SWITCH AT THE side of the bed and with a ‘click’ plunge your im­me­di­ate world into dark­ness, so the scenes start to flicker in your mind. And as your head sinks into the pil­low, tak­ing the strain from your neck and re­lax­ing your shoul­ders, so the sounds be­gin to play in your ears. There are nearly al­ways two iden­ti­cal cars be­cause, hey, you’re dream­ing and some­how it’s cooler with a pair. And the road is al­ways closed. No traf­fic. No lim­its.

Ini­tially you see the two shapes, al­most per­fect wedges in this in­stance, as if from a he­li­copter. Al­ready in full flight they are tear­ing across a bleak look­ing land­scape. Heath­ery moun­tain moor­land is spread out around. In the dis­tance there is the sea, but al­though the sun is out the wa­ter has a steely blue hue rather than the turquoise of some­where trop­i­cal.

The cars brake, there’s more dive than you had ex­pected to see, the sur­pris­ingly lengthy travel and tall side­walls com­press­ing as the driv­ers hit their re­spec­tive mid­dle pedals mo­ments apart but per­haps leav­ing a lit­tle more lee­way than ex­pected sug­gest­ing unas­sisted an­chors. Then they jink through a sort of chicane made of in­con­gru­ous low, white walls. As you zoom in for a closer look you see the roll trans­form into squat as a flare of revs sees both cars slide slightly on the exit, strug­gling to con­tain a com­bined 1200bhp with no help from any elec­tron­ics.

Now you’re in the driver’s seat of the first car and you be­gin to un­der­stand why your sub­con­scious has cho­sen this car for this place. Some­thing re­spon­sive with a neck-jolt­ing power-to-weight ra­tio was re­quired, but equally it’s no good run­ning out of puff at 240kmph up here, so you want some­thing ca­pa­ble of big num­bers too. With the four point har­ness clamp­ing your shoul­ders and waist to the thin seat you feel a part of the car par­tic­u­larly when you go for an­other gear, your right hand guid­ing the smooth stubby leaver around a lit­tle gate that feels no big­ger than a match­box. This is proper ana­logue driv­ing and you’re at the cen­tre of the ac­tion just like on a bike.

Which is ap­pro­pri­ate, be­cause this is Snae­fell Moun­tain, the end of the fa­mous, in­fa­mous, Isle of Man TT course. Onto the moun­tain mile and the white paint on the road is blur­ring into one con­tin­u­ous stripe like the guid­ing line in a com­puter

game. With noth­ing com­ing the other way you can com­mit to each of the three apices of the Ve­randa, try­ing to main­tain a con­stant lock with the steer­ing that has be­come much lighter with speed. This place de­mands that you feel in­tim­i­dated and the car is cer­tainly in­tim­i­dat­ing.

Ap­proach­ing the wide, cam­bered Windy cor­ner you sud­denly find your­self in the car be­hind, the shriek of the ex­hausts in front, min­gling with the in­duc­tion noise of your own cock­pit so that the V12’s full reper­toire con­sumes you. Past Kate’s Cot­tage and then feed in the McLaren F1’s floor-hinged throt­tle, nose ris­ing as you ac­cel­er­ate down­hill to­wards the Creg. Revs flare mo­men­tar­ily as the road falls away and as you land so you twitch in your sleep and the im­age fades. Just a dream. ⌧

THIS IS PROPER ANA­LOGUE DRIV­ING AND YOU’RE AT THE CEN­TRE OF THE AC­TION, JUST LIKE ON A BIKE

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