THE T.T. PRACTISING.
THE practising for the T.T. races has now been in progress three days, and excitement in the Island is becoming intense. One thing has already been shown clearly—that 13ritain is not to have all her own way as in the past, and that there is a very fair chance of at least one of the trophies going to Italy.
Last year P. Ghersi was a lone-hand in both the Senior and Lightweight races, the former of which, it will be remembered, he very nearly carried off, although he was disqualified after the race for a serious breach of the regulations. This year Pietro will not be riding, since he crashed in Italy recently and broke both his legs. The Guzzi concern, however, has entered three machines in both the Senior and Lightweight races, and from their performances in practice the three Italian riders, if not the equals of our own stars, are at least capable of conducting their machines to victory, given good luck.
On both Monday and Tuesday last—the only two days on which the weather has allowed fast lap times to be put up—the Guzzis made fastest laps in their two classes. This might seem to be ominous, but, on the other hand, it must be remembered that the Italians have been here some time, and that on the first day or two they were thus at a distinct advantage over our own riders. There is no need to be alarmed prematurely at the prospect of the departure of a trophy, but there is no doubt that at the present time the Guzzis are hot favourites, and that they have a particularly good chance in the Lightweight race.
THE FIRST DAY.
Monday dawned bright and clear, and some sixty riders were on the roads. Contrary to expectations, the course was not in a particularly good condition. A lot of work had certainly been carried out on it, but this work was not altogether finished, and there were a number of newly tarred surfaces over which grit had been thrown. This naturally made them loose and treacherous, and many riders skidded and fell in consequence. There was, however, only one accident which could in any way be termed serious. This occurred to Jock Porter, the famous Scotch rider of New Gerrard machines, and it was due, not to the surface, but to a collision with another machine. Jock was badly cut about the face, and was shaken, but he is reported to be going on satisfactorily. Most of the riders, of course, realised the dangers of this loose grit, and were riding very cautiously, particularly as it was a year since most of them had been on the course. Therefore no sensational times were put up. The best in the three classes were as follow :—
Tuesday was as good a day as Monday as regards the weather, but was better from the riders’ point of view since the road surface had settled down somewhat, and faster cornering was therefore possible. The early sun, however, was particularly trying in the Kirkmichael section, and much time was lost by the cautious here since the nature of the corners Were not yet fully reestablished in the riders’ minds and the glaring sunshine prevented them from seeing them. As usual, a number of riders fell off, particularly at Governor’s Bridge, and many bent footrests were seen in the Competitors’ Enclosure.
There was, however, only one accident of note. This was when H. Mathews (Norton) attempted to take Creg-na-baa too fast and hit the bolsters, which, as usual, have thoughtfully been placed there. Mathews, who was not much hurt, was, incidentally, the rider with whom Jock Porter collided the previous day. The new overhead camshaft Nortons (described elsewhere in this issue) had not as yet been seen, although several riders of push-rod engined Nortons have been practising. A newcomer this morning was Alec Bennett, who turned out on his ” Junior” Velocette. When he returned from practice Bennett said that he had had an interesting little ride with Varzi, on a Senior Guzzi. He held the bigger machine for several miles, until it threw up a stone which broke the glass of his goggles. This item will be food for thought for those who say that the Italians have ” got us beat” ! The best lap times were :—
TUESDAY’S fine weather disappeared during the night and although local weather prophets had promised a heat wave, to-day was dull and cloudy at dawn. There was a damp feel in the air, too, but the roads were dry. The mountain, however, was shrouded in mist and the prospect was far from pleasant.
Nevertheless there was an even larger turn-out than on either of the previous days, due, of course, to the fact that the majority of the men and machines have now arrived. The most interesting of the newcomers were undoubtedly the overhead camshaft Nortons, several of which put in an appearance. Everybody is anxiously awaiting the arrival of the Cottons, with their overhead camshaft Blackburne engines, set, contrary to usual Cotton practice, vertically in the frames. Up to date, however, there has been no sign of them.
Only one man completed three laps this morning, this being Joe Craig on the new-type Norton. About eighty turned out and just over thirty did two laps each. The remainder gave the weather best and spent the time, after one lap, in the Dunlop or Horlick’s Malted Milk refreshment tents. It was not that it was actually raining, although rain did fall at one time on the Kirkmichael-Ramsey stretch, but that the dense mist on the mountain road from the Gooseneck to Creg-na-baa rendered anything above a touring speed dangerous in the extreme. Some riders seem to know by instinct where the next bend is, but the majority prefer to see a bend and to get into the right part of the road to take it ! If they cannot do this they go dead slow, banking on the knowledge that there is not much likelihood of mist during the race itself and that risks on a misty morning are therefore not worth while. Another reason for the poor times was the rain
on the Kirkmichael-Ramsey section. Up to Kirkmichael the roads were dry and in places loose ; from Kirkmichael to Ramsey they were wet and slippery ; and on the mountain they were thick in mist. No wonder that there were no records broken ! During the second-lap riders’ descent of Bray Hill we made a number of observations. The following are extracts from our notebook :—
W. L. Handley (Rex-Acme) very fast and steady ; W. S. Braidwood (P. & M.) and O. Langton (New Hudson) were cautious but showed excellent acceleration ; Stanley Woods (Norton) appeared to strike a bad bump, but recovered smartly ; J. Hardaker (Montgomery) was very fast, went dangerously near the hedge, wobbled but regained control and got away well ; A. G. Melrose (Sunbeam) took things very quietly with a hand on his hip. The best times were as follow :
TWO-STROKES IN RACES.
Those who have been saying recently that the twostroke is a ” useful little machine but has no speed” were rather surprised at some of the results of the races at the Crystal Palace. In the 175 c.c. class a private owner of a Francis-Barnett made fastest time, beating the four-stroke which made best ” trade ” performance by 24 seconds, whilst a Dunelt won the private owners’ 250 c.c. class and also the 500 c.c. class—the latter out of 16 starters. The same week-end, again, the Athy “75,” one of Ireland’s most important races, was won by a two-stroke, a Francis-Barnett finishing first, with a Dunelt 5 seconds behind. Four-strokes may have a slightly higher maximum speed, but it would seem that on tricky courses two-strokes can hold their own with the best of them.
LONG DISTANCE RACES.
In this country, at the present time, the longest track race is 200 miles, although some years ago 500 mile races were held at Brooklands. On the continent, however, they have real long races, one of the most recent being a 24 hours event on the Opel Track, near Frankfurt. Relief riders were allowed if desired, and the winner and runner-up availed themselves of this rule. The third man, however, on a Dunelt, decided to stand alone, and he rode the whole 24 hours without interruption— a performance which is a credit to himself and his machine.
Miscellany, March 1998
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