Manx GP 2017

Day 1 – 16th August 2017

The Dilligaf convoy left HQ, late Tuesday afternoon, after a sneaky early get away. The journey was uneventful and passed without any hiccups, flat tyres or legendary M6 traffic jams. On arrival at Heysham docks, the little men in fluorescent jackets were very well mannered and smiley, unnerving all the jittery competitors ready to board the overnight freight ferry, and the measuring police pleasantly passed the van and caravan with flying colours, 20cm under the listed the length! First onto the ferry, the ever charming and romantic Mr Moody treated his new wife to a cabin instead of letting Princess Gob-on-a-Stick sleep under a table on the ferry floor, her usual Manx GP delight! Everything was going splendidly well! 

After a slightly rocky crossing, the pioneering Dilligaf team members, Mr & Mrs Moody, landed in Douglas shortly after 6am and headed straight for the paddock, and set up camp Dilligaf in paddock D in prime hard standing location (thanks Lloyd) behind the site facilities for easy access! Things were going well!!! Until that is the wind joined the party, the jockey wheel on the caravan broke and the Moody’s had a marital tiff over the camp set up! After a few choice words and a little help from fellow competitor Jamie Ingham, final living arrangements were settled upon and the awning firmly fixed to the ground, the caravan, the van, a large blue bin, a large oil drum filled with water and anything else it could be glued to prevent it blowing away! 

All set up, the Moody’s headed off into Douglas for the customary breakfast at The Cafe, getting back just in time before the rain and high winds swept through the paddock, so the pair had a kip and some much needed R &R before the festivities commenced in full swing! 

Day 2 – 17th August 2017

After a night of high winds and heavy rain, The Moody’s woke to find not only the awning still standing, but blue skies and a strange looking round orange orb in the skies,  otherwise known as the sun! Full of cheer and high hopes for continued good weather, Steve unpacked the race bike and began his pre-race titivation.  

After Elaine signed up to the orange army, the Moody pair took the road bikes for a tickle round the TT Mountain course and visit the historic site of the crash last year. New posts and fence had been fitted at Keppel Gate, eradicating all evidence that ‘Moody was there’. 

After Steve spent a couple of hours panicking where the charger to the transponder was, Elaine calmly remembered she had packed it the caravan, almost causing the second martial of the romantic fortnight abroad! Relieved, the pair set off for a romantic walk into Douglas so Elaine could get this seasons Manx ensemble and a famous Davison’s ice cream! 

With no time to loose, the Moody’s hot foot it back to the paddock ready for riders signing on and briefing. It was now all systems go! 

Day 3 – 18th August 2017

After another night of high winds and heavy rain, the Moody’s woke to more Manx sunshine, very thankful for their petite caravan home and hardstanding pitch! 

Sausage sarnies were first priority of the day followed by a spot of lock wiring and a few laps on the team support vehicles, hi ho Silver and Tonto, with Dan Ingham and his bro Jamie, while Elaine played pit bitch until team crew chief Mr Big Hammer Steve Gilkes would fly in late afternoon to take control of the helm. 

By late afternoon, the bike was polished, tyre change complete and was proudly displaying its Jamie Hodson sticker in memory of this talented rider who sadly lost his life all too soon at the Ulster GP. Dilligaf Racing would like to send their condolences to the Hodson family and friends. 

4 pm was riders briefing and immediately after Steve and Elaine hurried off to Castletown and Ronaldsway Airport to for the eagerly awaited arrival of Big Hammer who, except for his snoring, had been very much missed by both in Camp Dilligaf.  The team trotted off to Douglas for pizza and a cider before having an early night watching ‘Hitting the Apex’, snuggled up in the caravan!

Day 4 – 20th August 2017

After a night of strong winds and snoring inside the caravan, the team woke to the pitter patter of rain drops on the roof of the caravan. As always Big Hammervwas up before the lark, or the seagulls, busy finishing the lock wiring that Moody had started on the day before. It wasn’t long before the north westerly winds and pushed the rain back out to sea and a rainbow was be spotted at the end of pit lane. 

Today was the official start of the Isle of Man festival of Motorcycling, the Classic TT and Manx Grand Prix. The final teams arrived on the Ben-My-Chree and the paddock waited tentatively for news of first practice; would there be enough marshals, would the weather hold and would the ferry crash into the docks again!

It was a waiting game with a break for the riders technical briefing at midday. The next generation Dilligaf Racing, Dangerous Brian, Jordan and son Charlie, were on there way on the Mannanan to join the old boys in the paddock and liven up proceedings, if nothing else! 

At midday a deathly silence fell over the paddock as our Elaine, AKA gob on a stick, departed the paddock and moved Dilligaf camp to their usual HQ in Port Erin. As normal it wasn’t long before she had the team’s home from home full of food, cider and wine of course!

After a quick paddle in the sea with her new Dilligaf orange wellies, she headed off to her usual marshals vantage point at the Top of Barregarrow and awaited ‘roads closed’ over the radio. 

While Elaine was cat walking her orange apparel, the Dilligaf boys were getting the bike ready for first practice. At 5pm precisely roads closed. Despite the unusual good weather and call for marshals all over the globe so the boys could get out, there was a delay of an hour and a half as three muppets had parked and abandoned their vehicles on the course, so all three had to be towed away before practice could start. 

At last at 6:27pm, the first of the newbies turned their first tentative wheels . Thirty-eight newcomers took to the roads on their compulsory speed controlled ‘sighting lap’, under the guidance of experienced current TT racers including James Coward, Dominic Herbertson and Alex Sinclair as well as Jim Hunter, the 1986 Senior MGP Newcomers race winner and experienced TT and MGP competitor Roger Wibberley. 

Next out was the junior and senior boys with the superbike Classic TT’ers. From Barregarrow crossroads Elaine watched her man hurtle pass in the second batch of riders to be let loose from their pens. Moody didn’t look too bad seeing this was his first lap under race conditions since his crash last year. Steve was racing the same bike too, rebuilt by himself and the amazing Mr Gilkes in the Moody front room over winter. Most of the bike had to be replaced and only the engine, swing arm, rear wheel and wiring loom had been used from last year, the other parts left at home, in the skip! 

Although Moody felt he hadn’t done well, he managed a 104.4mph first lap, putting a much needed smile on his face before he started the ‘I could do better’ malarkey! On arrival back at the pits, Steve took a wet behind the ears next generation lads for a lap of the course while Elaine kindly cooked the team supper. 

Day 5 – 20th August 2017

The sabbath, a day of bike racing rest on the Isle of Man. So teams merely tinkered with their bikes in the paddock awaiting news of the weather for practice next day. Old Moods took the young guns, Dilligaf Racing the next generation, out for a few laps pilly on Mr Gilkes’ Millie. 

Elaine meanwhile did not rest, and trotted off to her marshals refresher course first thing to practice her first aid skills, radio checks, how to take a helmet off and load fallen riders on to a stretcher; so be warned newbies, if you fall off, you may get our Elaine tending to you! And if that doesn’t scare the newbies, I’m not sure what will, as ‘whoops sorry’ is her middle name! As an extra special treat, Elaine was taken up and in the control tower and shown around by the Clerk of the course and also went to Nobles to find out all about Airmed and practice loading the metal pigeon. 

The afternoon saw more laps before the team headed bank to their temporary HQ in Port Erin for a rather nice chicken supper, leaving the next generation to fend for themselves in Douglas for the night! 

Day 6 -Monday 21st August 201

Today all woke with weather worries, what the weather would be and what whether or not the would get out for practice. All weather apps said the same thing, rain and fog. Feeling slightly optimistic. The Steve’s ventured off to Arkrights store to get some fibreglass kits, to repair the belly pan on the bike when hopefully Moody will bottom out at Bray Hill, which is the usual! 

All prepared the Steve’s headed off to the paddock to play with the suspension and wait and wait and wait. While they were waiting, Elaine and Hi Ho Silver went exploring, visiting Peel for the legendary ice cream!

By early afternoon the rain began to fall and mist rise. It wasn’t long before Gary Thompson, Clerk of the Course, made the call all were expecting, practice was cancelled. As there was no practice, the team then hot foot it back to Peel for more ice cream before heading home to Dilligaf  Manx HQ and Elaine’s Italian meatballs. 

Day 7 – Tuesday 22nd August 2017

Day 7, the team had been there a week already and only done one practice lap, and the island was engulfed entirely by the cloak of Mannanan, practice was doubtful but all were praying to the weather gods for the fog to lift. 

The three amigos, Steve, Steve and gob on a stick, waved good morning to the fairies on their daily commute to the paddock , with visibility down to about 50 meters, described as ‘shit’ by old Moods! 

On arrival at the paddock, things were no better and the forecast didn’t fill the eager riders with hopes of turning wheels today. It was again a waiting game….

All six decided the best place to wait was the shake shop in Douglas, and so after their annual pilgrimage to the t-shirt shop on the promenade, they played pass the parcel with the shakes, trying an assortment of flavours, mint aero won the vote! 

With the fog lifting and the sun breaking through, the slimline six, made their way back to the pits ready to the announcement all had been waiting for, practice would go ahead. The next generation, Kai, Jordan and Charlie, all dolled up in their Dilligaf team wear, very excited started to get ready for scrutineering. Kai took the bike up while Jordan played pit donkey for the day, carrying tyre warmers and paddock stands etc. Once all set up in parc femme, they could only once again play the waiting game and continue to pray the fog would continue to lift and roads would close at 6pm as planned. 

As promised, roads closed at 6pm with the orange army armed with yellow flags and radios in position, the first riders set off down Bray Hill at 6:20pm. Steve was in the first group of riders to unleashed from their pens. Conditions were still not great, with the fog a whisker away at Windy Corner, damp patches under the trees, a strong north westerly breeze and lots of yellow flags. Not deterred, Moody pulled the pin and got two solid laps under his belt, making it a total of three so far, half way to qualifying. 

Day 8 – Wednesday 23rd August 2017

After a stormy night, blue skies and sunshine as promised by the weather men, bestowed the riders and paddock first thing. Eagerly, Steve and Steve, shot off to the paddock to make more adjustments to the bike and do a few laps on the road bikes. Tyres were changed and suspension set up altered ready for the evening practice session. 

Elaine instead put on her  running shoes, and had coffee and cake at the Sound with the seals, before taking Silver for a gaunt to the furthermost north of the island, the Point of Ayre. 

At 2pm Elaine and Steve joined fellow racers to say a fond farewell to Jamie Hodson who sadly lost his life at the Ulster GP.  RIP Jamie, ride the skies!

Back in the paddock, scutineering did not go as planned tonight with issues with lock wiring and a dodgy rear wheel valve, causing the team some last minute hic-ups and no electric for tyre warmers. 

As the final countdown for practice was announced, Elaine headed off to her marshals post, that night it was at Keppel Gate with the guys who picked her man Moody up last year and the helicopter crew, after giving Moody his orders not to stop tonight. 

6pm roads closed and at 6:20pm the first riders headed off down Bray Hill with James Hillier on Stafford’s Oxford Products Ducati one of the first to get away. Steve was at the back of the pens due to his stint in the sin bin which meant he got caught up behind several newcomers and lots of traffic. Despite this he managed another solid two laps with an average lap time of 106mph and moved up to 42nd in the rankings for race day. Steve didn’t stop for a brew at Keppel as ordered by his better half, instead sailed straight on past safely without hitting any posts! Steve felt more at ease with the bike and the set up, finishing the day off with Homemade Manx sausage casserole and watching on board laps back at HQ. 

Day 9 -Thursday 24th August 2017

The day started at HQ with a hearty breakfast before heading down to the paddock to change the front tyre and valve. Scruntineers the day before had been displeased with the angled valve on the rear wheel so to ensure not another stint in the sin bin again, the decision was made to change the front valve before that became an issue. 

While the boys were doing bike stuff, Elaine went island exploring, today visiting Milners tower and taking a trip on the mountain railway to the top of Snaefell before heading off to her marshals post, tonight Joeys 3. 

Once again practice started on time, conditions were dry albeit it a bit breezy across the mountain. Steve was once in the first batch of riders to let loose from their pens, and joined 185 riders in the first practice session.

Further adjustments had been made to the suspension earlier in the day, increasing handling and Steve’s confidence in the bike. Due to the high winds, Steve almost ran out of fuel as the bike began to cough and splutter coming out of governors. Despite lots of traffic, several yellows and a nasty incident at the Gooseneck, Steve managed two consistent 107mph laps to move his ranking position into 40th on his STOCK CBR600RR. 

Day 10 – Friday 25th August 2017

Day 10 and so far so good! Only one session cancelled, no broken radiators (we did bring a spare), no cracked screens (thanks to Skidmarx we brought a few spares), no blown engines (yes we brought a spare) and no flying off the side of the mountain as we didn’t have a spare rider!!! With times progressing nicely and ranking order now at 40, the Steve’s were full of the joys of spring as they made their daily commute to the paddock while Elaine prepared the boys roast chicken dinner for supper and took a stroll along the Port Erin sea front and had a paddle in the sea. Moody had now cracked the 21 minute lap with an average lap speed of 107.8mph and had his sights set in a 20 minute lap by race day! 

With Mr Gilkes preparing the bike for days racing, Mr Moody set to work to prepare himself mentally for the evening practice, with a mint aero milkshake with the pit monkeys! 

All ready to go, the team then went to watch the Purple Helmets with special guest star Bruce Anstey in pit lane before scruntineering and practice. 

Practice started one minute early tonight and once again the MGP senior and junior boys were first out. Steve was feeling good as he over took 3 riders coming towards Barregarrow where Elaine was marshalling,  passing mid pack in a 7 bike train with sights to pass the 3 bikes in front. Steve could feel the back end slipping at Ballaugh which started to get worse so he took the sensible option at Ginger Hall and pulled in to check. As many of you know, it isn’t often Moody is sensible, but today was one of those wise moments as the back tyre had began to deteriorate and had what looked like a slow puncture. That was it for practice for Steve and the team tonight. 

Steve had hardly got off his bike when he had four quid thrust in his hand for a pint and a kind offer back to the pits by a Belgium spectator.

Shortly after sadly red flags all sectors was called following an incident on the mountain at Brandywell, the spot where Steve had seen two engines blow previously. Due to the debris and fog, riders were turned back and sent home to the paddock the opposite way escorted by the travelling marshals like the Pied Piper of Hamelin. 

Dilligaf Racing would like to thank all at Ginger Hall for their warm welcome and send their best wishes to those involved in the incident.  

Day 11 – Saturday 26th August 2017

Today was the official start of the Classic TT. The team were up early as tyres needed changing and more adjustments to the bike were needed. Dilligafers from Across arrived on the over the overnight ferry and more were set to arrive by sea and air later that day. 

Roads closed at 11am ready the day’s racing and Marshal Moody maned her post at Ballaskyr Farm on duck patrol! There was a short delay to the racing due to oil spill on Bray Hill before the first race of the day, the Bennetts Senior Classic TT. Josh Brookes on the Paton dominated the race right from the start, completing the four lap race in 1 hour 22 minutes to take the win. Jamie Coward was second on the Norton with William Dunlop took the final podium position after a race long battle for third with Maria Costello. 

Next out were the MGP boys for their practice session. The boys were mighty fast today with Michael Evans clocking an impressive 122mph lap. Our marvellous Mr Moody did two 110mph laps and was pretty pleased with his results, popping an impressive wheelie as his passed his new bride. 

The second race was the Dunlop Classic TT. Bruce Almighty Anstey, the flying kiwi, dominated the race like he had done in practice and broke the 250cc lap record on his way to a resounding victory, with Rutter in 2nd and Lougher 3rd. Paul Owen came in a smiley 6th place after getting a time penalty for being 0.05km in pit lane.  Later Rutter was stripped of second place due to technical infringements!

2017 marked the 60th anniversary of Bob McIntyre who became the first racer to ever complete a 100mph lap. As a tribute Michael Dunlop completed a lap of honour on the bike in true Micky D style, flat out! 

Delays were building up and after several crashes and oil leeks on the parade lap,  the MGP lightweights didn’t get out until 7pm, with roads staying closed until 8pm resulting in Elaine being very late for supper! Fuelman Damion with Helen were the last to join the Dilligaf party as their flight was also delayed, as the team sat down for a curry together in Port St Mary to talk racing of course!

Day 12 – Sunday 27th August 2017

Once again the no racing sabbath day bestowed upon the island. Despite it being Jurby day, the Moody’s decided to have a quiet day together, no bikes, yes you did hear that right no bikes, instead a romantic day together on the Calf of Man, the remote island at the bottom of the island , a wildlife sanctuary and home to the seals. 

While Mr and Mrs M were seal watching over a cheese sandwich, Mr Gilkes went to the paddock to prepare the bike for its final practice on Monday. With everything all set to go, the team reformed at HQ for a rather awesome roast pork and chocolate moose supper kindly cooked by the awesome Erica! 

Day 13 – Monday 29th August 2017

Today was Superbike classic day and Steve’s final day of practice. Despite the weather being more than a just a bit dodgy, scrutineering still went ahead.

Dilligafers waited for news……

13, unlucky for some, and day 13 was unlucky for the classic boys as their race day was cancelled due to fog mist rain damp patches, everything a TT mountain course rider doesn’t on race day! Racing was  delayed several times before finally the clerk of the course made the decision to cancel racing, postponing until the next day. 

Knowing that there would be no racing, team Dilligaf hot foot it into Douglas for yet more milk shakes and say goodbye to the pit monkeys, Jordan, Kai and Charlie. The paddock won’t be the same without them! 

Next stop was back to HQ for supper before joining Dilligaf supporters at the British for drinks. 

Day 14 – Tuesday 29th August 2017

As racing was cancelled yesterday, the remaining Classic TT races had been moved to Tuesday. Roads didn’t close until 11:30am with racing commencing at midday. As there was less racing time, the Junior Classic TT and newcomers race were both shortened to 3 laps but the Senior Classic TT remained a 4 lap race. Moody and the other junior and senior MGP boys would follow the newcomers race with their final practice session. 

Elaine was the most excited of all, as today she was treated to a pit pass for all her Marshalling hard work, meaning she could watch the racers line up on the Glencrutcherly Road and screech close up from pit lane. Both Helen and Julie joined her, and the three girls lapped up every moment like three excited puppies! 

The first race of the day was the Sure Junior Classic TT. After a short delay to get marshals in position around the Mountain Course, the race got underway at 12.05pm.

With the race reduced to three laps following yesterday’s postponement, the pre-race debate centred around the impact that pit stops would have on the thirstier multi-cylinder bikes compared with the ability of the twin machines to go without refilling and so it proved with Rutter, having run straight through, narrowly holding off Johnston who pitted at the end of the second lap. 

Although Johnston had cut Rutter’s lead to six seconds by the Bungalow, Rutter last lap of 104.002 gave him the race win in a time of 1:06.09.267/ 102.660mph by ten seconds from Johnston with Coward third.

Next was the parade laps…… enough said about those! 

Then it was the Senior Classic TT and the three pit puppies, Elaine, Helen and Julie, lapped up every second as they watched riders thunder off the start cheering James Hillier on the number 5 Ducati, built by Stafford Evans and to be fuelled by the our very Fireman Damion AKA the young SkyWalker. 

Excited the girls watched as Bruce Anstey broke the outright lap record twice in the Motorsport Merchandise Superbike Classic TT Race, the final race of the 2017 Isle of Man Classic TT but Anstey had to settle for second place behind Dean Harrison. Sadly Hillier and the Oxford Products Ducati retired on lap 2 but fellow EMRA competitor and paddock neighbour Dan Ingham finished a very respectable and proud 22nd! 

After a short roads open break, the newcomers took the closed roads but within minutes of the start, the race was red flagged due to an incident at Bradden Bridge causing a track side bike fire! The clerk of the course Gary Thompson called for a restart but also gave the newbies their final warning after once again disobeying yellow flags and riding like ……

The restart saw Vicar’s and Tweed fight for the top spot on each lap but Vicar’s held the lead throughout to not only claim the prized top step on the podium but also broke the the fastest newcomer lap record! 

With delays and fading light, Steve’s final practice was cancelled so the team headed back to HQ for an early night. 

Day 15 – Wednesday 30th August 2017

The team were up with seagulls as today was Junior Manx Grand Prix race day! Without even stopping for breakfast, the crew and Dilligafmobile made an early start to the paddock, waving to the fairies on route! 

At the paddock, Ray and Julie joined the team and soon the camp Dilligaf was awash with supporters and a hive of activity. Thankfully scruntineering highlighted no issues and soon the bike was parked up in parc femme with tyre warmers on, ready to race!  

At 10am the bikes began to line up on the Glencrutcherly Road in qualifying order. A mixture of excitement and apprehension filled the paddock. Each rider would set off 10 seconds apart, testing man and machine to the limit. The pit pups, Elaine and Julie,  joined the pit crew to escort Moody on his final walk down the racing green mile, to the start line. 

With a tap on the shoulder, Moody headed off down Bray Hill, heart pounding, race head on! But it wasn’t long before the race was red flagged after a rider hit a lamppost, snapping it at the base. All riders including Moody were escorted back to the paddock under yellow flags while the debris was cleaned up. As most riders hadn’t completed a full lap, it was deemed a restart due to commence at 11:15, but always with Manx racing, things never seem to go to plan, and it was 12:10 before the re-run of the now 3 lap Junior Manx Grand Prix started.  

Moody seemed more relaxed second time round but less tolerant of Elaine’s daft comments or wanting to give him a kiss while wearing his helmet just before heading off down Bray Hill! As always Elaine filmed the occasion, posting every millisecond on Facebook with film footage and photos, and as always could be clearly heard saying ‘I love you Mr Moody’ as Steve pinned the throttle open and vanished at St. Ninians! 

The pit crew headed off to pit lane to prepare for the pit stop, organised for end of lap 1, while pit pups, scurried up to pit lane for prime photo and video position of the pit stop! The pups watched the little dot on the app on the iPad move round the course, yelling across lane to the crew as to where Moody was! He was doing well and achieved a 110mph lap from a standing start. 

At the end of lap one, Moody pitted, and the crew did their stuff even if that had by this time lost his water bottle! The pit stop went without a hitch and once again Moody headed off down Bray Hill.

At the bottom of Bray Hill, Moody had a momentous tank slapper causing the brake pads to get pushed back into the callipers, resulting in ….. no front brake! Steve had to knock the bike down the gear box and use the back brake full on, reducing his speed just enough to make the turn at Quarterbridge. Trying his brakes again, Steve described them as ‘spongy’ and with this being the anniversary of his crash and threatened by new bride if he crashed again that she would get a pony, Moody decided to retire and play it safe.  

Sadly Steve returned to the paddock via the back roads to his sad but relieved team. Everyone was gutted but so relieved Moody was safe and the bike was in one piece! With no time to waist, the crew soon and the bike stripped, wheels off and tyres changed, new brake pads and refuelled all ready for Friday! 

With the bike all ready and Moody only sulking ‘just slightly’ all returned to Port Erin for Erica’s home made steak pie and apple!

Day 16 – Thursday 31st August 2017

No racing so the team had a day off and relaxed with a milk shake I Douglas, went to  Ramsey and then had ice cream in Peel! The day finished with a rather nice glass gin watching the sunset over Port Erin. 

Day 17 – Friday 1st September 2017

Senior Manx Grand Prix race day was finally upon us. After Moody’s brake failure on Wednesday all were more apprehensive but also more eager than ever to complete all four laps and the race. 

Everyone was wearing their Dilligaf etire and Elaine was optimistically wearing shorts!!!! They said good morning to the fairies on route and talked fuel which was unusual as the normal sunshine bus topic was the farts and poo…. things were serious today!!

Checking the IOM government webcams, they noted fog on the mountain so expected delays to be announced. Steve received countless well wishes from Across and from fellow competitors who had completed their racing. 

On arrival at the paddock, an announcement was made that there would be an hour delay due to fog on the mountain. And then another! It was two more hours before racing would get underway. 

At midday the gates were opened and competitors lined up on the Glencrutcherly Road in qualifying time order. One by one each got the tap on the shoulder and headed off down Bray Hill with throttles pinned! 

Moody was the 59th man to be let loose on the 37.73 mile course on closed roads through towns and villages, and over a mountain. Steve was still weary following his crash last year,  brake failure Wednesday and concerns of a pony moving in, so it took it steady with a 108:9 mph lap. His second lap was another steady 108 mph; the aim of the game was to bring it home with bike and rider in one piece! 

The pit stop was flawless again and the pit pups watched the pit crew refuel at the end of pit alley. As Moody pulled away, the faint dulcet tones of his wife could faintly being heard, ‘I love you Mr Moody now pull the pin!’. 

Steve completed the 4 lap 150.92 mile race incident free race in 1 hour 23 minute and 46 seconds with an overall average speed of 108.088 mph to finish 52nd overall. He may not have brought a replica home this year but gained his confidence and got his racing mojo back!