2024-isle-of-man-tt

Isle Of Man 2024

spanjaard

The Isle of Man is a small island in the Irish Sea midway between England and Ireland. It has a population of approximately 80,000 people, is 30 miles (48 km) long and 10 miles (16 km) wide. Famous for Manx cats – no tails, its ancient language and the worlds oldest legislative (parliament) assembly.

It has another claim to fame that sees the population double in May and June every year when a unique sporting event takes place.

The International Isle of Man TT (Tourist Trophy) Race is an annual race run on the Isle of Man in May or June of most years since its inaugural race in 1907.

Spanjaards Garth Taylor went across to watch the racing, catch up with AJ Venter and take in the whole experience…

This one came as a bit of a surprise. Spanjaard has sponsored AJ Venter for some time now – and they asked if I could pop across, meet the man and take in the whole experience. 

What an experience it was! Put it on your bucket list.

It was a whirlwind week – four days of motorcycle chaos. I landed at IOM Airport, caught a shuttle to my digs and was astonished by the sheer number of bikes on the roads. It’s as if the whole of the Western World had descended on the island. It was beautiful to see!

 

From the airport I headed straight to the track. Ok it’s not a track – half of the islands roads are closed off for the race, so the guys are literally racing where people usually shop or visit the pubs.

IOM 2024

Residents have an allotted time to get to where they need to be. An hour before the races start, the roads are closed. If you are caught on the roads, you get arrested. All the locals that I talked to were completely happy with the arrangement. This is a great tradition…

Ambling into the pits, there’s a busy hum. Bikes and gazebo setups as far as the eye can see, it’s a petrol heads dream! 

I saw bikes and teams of all shapes and sizes from eighties classics right up to the very latest superbikes. It’s incessant. An assault on the senses in every direction. Brilliant.

SA’s AJ Venter was on the startline at 6h30pm (It’s still light) on 1000 Beemer as I got there and I actually caught my taste of what it’s like. 

Guys. It’s insane! 

The test lap is pretty tame, and in saying that, they average 200KPH on the 60 odd kilometre lap. That takes about 20 minutes. 

 

And, you’ve probably seen it, but the bikes literally hurtle past just a few inches from the edge. Every turn is like they have JUST made it. There’s no flow. It looks like they just get through each corner unscathed.

It is something pretty amazing to watch.

It started drizzling after the test lap – and the race was called off, which was actually in AJ’s favour because he had picked up a problem with his rear shock.

AJ came in and I got to meet the Lekka Racing SA Crew. They had a great setup and we shared a cup of boere koffie. AJ took some time out, popped me into a Renault Panel van and took me out for a lap of the race. It took an hour and a half by car.

I had no idea…

There are some well-known sections and names of the route – the Ramsay hairpin, Gooseneck, the bungalow, Sulby straight…

This is where you understand just what’s involved. Imagine closing the streets in your town down, looking for the longest roads with as many corners as possible and hosting a race through that, that leads out into the countryside, up through the mountainsides and back down again. That’s what it’s like.  

AJ:

“Garth, you check that green house there? That’s where we first start braking. Then you check that white fence there – that’s where you gun it! That manhole there – that marks the apex!”

Crazy!

“You keep right here because if you keep left, you jump high – on the right, the jump is low and far – that’s what you want. You check this bumpy section? This is where you stand and pull back on the bars… Here it’s smoother so you let the bike settle again.”

Just like that!

“There’s a few places where I get nervous, this section causes a tank slapper every time – and if you get this corner wrong, you are in big trouble!”

He knows the course like the back of his hand. In between races he is always out either showing people around, or he catches a ride just to embed the course. “The first few times I came here, I hitchhiked around the course just to get to know it better.”

 

Here’s something interesting. If you own a property along the course, you can’t just paint it whatever colour you want, without permission or notifying the race committee. The racers use the colours as track markers.

Through the mountains, there are no speed limits. AJ railed the van like he would a bike… which was quite scary in itself… I tried to film a lap but was actually too busy holding on…

10 pm, still light, it was time to get some shuteye. That was just my first day there. A sensory overload of motorcycle goodness.

 

For the next few days, every morning was spent at the pits. Day to day, you don’t know what the day will bring – and the rain really buggers things around, the programme changes constantly because safety is top priority. The roads need to dry out properly before the guys are unleashed.

I’d make my way to a good vantage point (you walk for miles!), and the race would be cancelled, so you walk all the way back again… it is a beautiful island though, so I’m pretty glad I got to see it.

I did see guys like Michael Dunlop who equalled his uncle’s record this year, but to actually get close to guys like him is impossible, they are like rock stars over there and the big teams don’t really allow everybody through the pits.

“Dunlops win came after he opted to ditch the Triumph that he had used at the North West 200 and the beginning of TT qualifying week, for the Yamaha R6.”

Dunlop was third after the opening lap behind Dean Harrison and Davey Todd, but had taken the lead of the race by the time he reached Ballaugh Bridge for the second time. From there, he was unstoppable and crossed the line with a lead of 8.5s.

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I watch the sidecars – they seem slow compared to the bikes, but man, the person hanging off the side must have massive courage…

The Bikes. Holle cow, you don’t understand, these guys are next level. They take off in 10 sec intervals and it’s race on. In one race, AJ took off in 42nd and ended up in the top twenty. How he overtook everyone on these narrow roads is beyond me…

The week was just like that. In between races, I took the opportunity to explore the high street and sample the IOM Spuds. They are fantastic.

It’s not a cheap outing. start saving now. Book your flights well in advance.

By the time we booked, all the little B and B’s were full, so it was UK hotel rates.

A soft drink or water is around R45.00. Breakfast in the hotel, a spud lunch with curry is R140.00. 

It is worth every cent!

The racing is quite simply, spectacular, something every petrol head needs to experience. Take a buddy with you!

This was AJ’s 8th IOM TT. He ran a total of 7 races. This year was his best ever!

“The IOM TT remains hugely popular with motorcycle enthusiasts and is a major contributor to the local economies on the island. If you do not like the sound of motorbike engines or the inconvenience of bikes EVERYWHERE, it is not the place to be.”

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