Racing is scheduled to get underway today in the Isle of Man TT. The six lap Superbike event raises the curtain on the 2005 Festival – a meeting which sees a new look programme with the end of two-strokes and the introduction of the Supersport and Superstock classes, as well as the Superbike.
There is much speculation whether the first-ever lap at over 130 miles an hour is possible in the 226 miles Superbike event. If it should happen, the man who is most people’s favourite to achieve it is 32 year old Morecambe rider John McGuinness who already holds the all-time lap record at 127.68. However, there are still around 20 seconds to be shaved off his best time if the magical 130 miles an hour is to be reached – a tall order.
While McGuinness – already with six TT victories to his credit – is the favourite to win, he faces stiff opposition from a number of rivals. He heads the practice leaderboard on his Yamaha having lapped at 125.262 during Tuesday night’s practice but Adrian Archibald (124.848), Richard Britton (124.708) and Ryan Farquhar (124.708) are snapping at his heels. In fact, the quality of the field is shown by statistics which reveal no fewer than 14 riders have achieved laps of 120 miles an hour, or better, in practice.
The Superbike TT gets underway at 12 noon (weather permitting) and will be followed at three o’clock by the first of the two Sidecar TTs. This event has already provided possibly the highlight of the week so far when local competitors Dave Molyneux and Danny Sayle recorded not one, but two, sub 20 minute laps on their Honda. The fastest was at 115.918 miles an hour – 19 minutes 31.78 seconds.
This was the first time such a speed had been achieved but it counts for nothing unless it can be replicated in the race itself. There is a possibility of an Isle of Man 1-2 as another Manx crew, Nick Crowe and Darren Hope are second fastest. Their Friday night practice speed of 112.585 was not only their fastest ever, but just six seconds away from recording their own lap at under 20 minutes. The second Sidecar race is on Wednesday.
The stresses under which TT riders have to operate have been graphically illustrated by Noble’s Hospital doctor, Adam Standring who is conducting research at the TT on physiological matters such as dehydration and body temperature control. Earlier today he released details about his research on one of his ‘guinea pigs’ – Richard Britton.
By the use of a monitoring device Dr. Standring was able to reveal some amazing findings. A normal heart rate, at rest, would be around 70/80 beats a minute. Richard’s heart rate while standing by his machine in readiness for the practice session was 90; rising to 120 when he wheeled his Superbike to the start line. During the course of the lap his heartbeat averaged 200 a minute, peaking at 230.