The 1999 TT standing start lap record.

Picture by Island Photographics

This is a brief story of that incredible opening lap by Jim Moodie at the 1999 senior TT. Little has really been printed on this achievement, in fact some people thought Honda were on a hiding to nothing, especially against the 1000cc V&M Yamaha's ridden by David Jefferies and Ian Duffus, deciding instead to go for the lap record rather than the race. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Few people knew Moodie was in fact riding the slower, kit version, RC45. It was down on power from the version he used so effectively to lead the practice sessions, then the ill-fated F1 race, where it finally gave up the ghost after only four miles.

Make no mistake, Moodie wanted to win the Senior race and knew he would need to ride the wheels off the Honda to stand any chance, especially without the factory engine. He knew he would need to be absolutely and totally focused right from the start and by running number one he knew the V&M Yamaha's were ten and twenty seconds behind him. So in order to stamp his authority he would need to pull out some visible distance on Jefferies…. Better still, just disappear. Every split second counted, even leaving the start line was critical.

Finally, the tyre gave way on the second lap, fuelling rumours he used a special or softer tyre, rumours that still continue to this day. Below is the true story of that day in June 1999 and it's worth keeping in mind the factory engine was producing around 156BHP, but the engine Moodie used only produce around 147BHP…………………………...

Moodie said "Things had been going okay in practice, but I did have an oil leak all through practice, the same as at the North West. In the first lap of the F1 race the engine let go and it was actually the crankcase that split. Basically the crankcase was so worn they finally split. The factory engine was probably four or five years old, it was just worn out. Rutter used it a Macou the year before and it left there with an oil leak. I used it at the 99 NW when I finished second to Jefferies with the same oil leak. We then went to the TT with the same oil leak and it finally went in the F1 race at glen vine on the first lap. The race was stopped, I heard it on the radio that not since 1930 something had it been stopped. So, I actually ran back with all my gear from glen vine to the pits, four mile's. I couldn't believe the race had been stopped; the skin on my toes was worn through with running back. I got back and the 600 was sitting there. The 600 was mega, ready to go. So mega, I only did one lap on the fresh engine on the Thursday afternoon and if I went out on the 600 in the F1 race I would have worn it out in a race that I had absolutely no chance in. So when I got back I said what's happening. They said there's no spare bikes, you can take you're 600 out. I was absolutely stunned. This was a professional outfit and I didn't know there was no spare bike, I didn't give it any consideration….after all there was me, Joey and Simon Beck, I thought there would be at least one spare bike for us all, not even a spare engine. It was now looking like I couldn't even do the Senior, but It was Stan Beck (Simon's father) who talked me into doing the Senior. To do the race I would have to use Simon's engine or I wasn't doing it. Poor Simon had been killed and the only engine I could use was his. It was only a kit engine, around 147 BHP. The F1 race was over for me.

For the Senior race I was running number one and here's Bill saying, (Bill Simpson, Ian's father) it's a new clutch so go easy off the line. I said no chance…no chance. I've got Jefferies and Duffus, ten seconds behind me on 1000cc 180 BHP rocket ships and if they catch me, that's it. I said Bill, I'm not going to kid you on, it's going to be absolutely on the rev limiter off the line and that's exactly what happened. Every thing we done, all the work we done on it, said the tyre would last at least four laps. We used that same compound tyre all through practice. I can't remember the compound now, but they, (Dunlop) thought it would go six laps. I was concerned that I would need grip on the fifth or sixth lap, so we had tyres to change after the second and the fourth…..Anyway, we were definitely gearing for a tyre change on the fourth.

If I had that problem with the tyre near the end of the second lap, I would have got back, but it would have to be near the end. I actually got a bit of a warning on the second lap going over The Highlander, it just kicked. I actually thought the rebound damping was off a little on the rear shock. In a split second I thought…two clicks rebound, because I would need to shout that to the crew when I came in….two clicks rebound, then it was out my mind again.

I had another couple of moments here and there and I still thought the shock was a little under-damped, that's why I was getting the dodgy kicks. The first sign I knew something was seriously wrong, was pretty much when it happened. I braked going into Ballacraine, it was just coming round on me. Because obviously the middle of the tyre was gone, there was no middle, it was through the canvas. When I turned the corner and accelerated the tyre just exploded. From thinking it was under damped to it being all over was probably about thirty seconds or something, from Highlander to Ballacraine. But from thinking something was seriously wrong, to it being all over, was probably four seconds. To have broken the lap record in the hardest possible way, with all these guys behind me, on a 750 that didn't have all that much power, that didn't handle all that well, it was so heartbreaking. I just walked; I would have walked all the way back, but Steve Hislop picked me up, he was standing watching and he ran and got his van, yes it was Steve Hislop that picked me up. I'm still convinced I could have won the race, on the factory engine 100% sure. The hardest thing was the first lap by not letting them catch me. From then on I couldn't see how I would loose that advantage as I was eleven or so seconds ahead in real time. My pit crew were good, they were not going to let me down as I had them training and training, so something would have had to go wrong with the bike.

What people don't understand, I broke that lap from a standing start and I hadn't been on a bike from the Wednesday afternoon as I never done the production race. Jefferies and Duffus were out in the production race, they knew more of what the track was like. I went into so many corners fully committed and if there was anything untoward I wouldn't have known about. I took it that the circuit was perfect and rode it accordingly. I had some mega slides, but it was building up to what I expected.

One of the main things was the four corners at Verandah. The four corners at Verandah have always been, left hand side of the white line, right hand side of the white line, middle of the right hand side of the road and apex the fourth, so there's always a bit of margin for something going wrong. As I got to the apex I took the bend in fifth gear 160 mph and the back end of the bike went in and out several times and it just kind of slithered itself straight. As I went up towards Bungalow I took a deep breath, took a bit of a breather and I thought that's it….if they catch me now they can have it….that's how hard I was trying. That's what I was thinking as I was getting myself ready for another bit of a fright.

I think the lap was four seconds from being perfect without the risk of killing myself. It's not quite clear in my mind, but at glen vine on the first lap, I knew I needed the rev counter to be showing 12500 12600, but in fact it was 12200. But it was the first lap, I'm in fifth gear, on a brand new tyre and everything's got to be right. It was not just 100% and I was building up, although I knew I could take it at 12600. So I was probably four miles per hour down on the apex speed.

All the way down Crosby, up highlander, I recon I lost .8 of a second there. And then everything was probably quite perfect till I got to Glen Tranin when I'd just hit top. It's a long sweeping left into a sweeping right, into a sweeping left, then another sweeping right over a period of about a mile. So you're flat out about 180 mph and it kicked me out which meant I'd still kept it flat. I wasn't back to the left hand gutter for the next right hander, I was only back to the middle of the road. I got the right okay, and then I was just running too far, so I had to roll it a touch to get things back under control. I recon I lost about 1.5 through there.

The next moment was at the gooseneck…I went to pull away my tare off and I missed it, I couldn't get it. You only get one chance and I missed it, I was covered in fly's. So, up past mountain box left, there's a flat right, another flat right, bungalow bridge then Verandah. There are two rights and a left into Verandah; they were not just 100%. I wanted to be 100% into the apex; but I couldn't see the apex because of the fly's. I was still totally committed but I had to leave a fraction as I didn't want to hit my knee on anything. I lost another second there and I think I lost another half second by having to take a double swipe at the tare off at Hailwood Rise…it's on the video….It had to come off at Hailwood Rise. So that was it; Steve always said you never get a perfect lap, but when I came over the line for the second lap I was absolutely, 100%, totally and mentally focused that I was going to make this one perfect. The first was so close to being perfect".

Read more about Jim on the website Here

Courtesy of Harvey Thompson

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