Manx Grand Prix 2016
2016 sees Steve’s fifth visit to the Isle of Man as a Grand Prix competitor
This year Steve will be competing on his new stead, the Honda CBR600rr, kindly supplied by Branson’s Honda of Yeovil.
Steve will be competing in both the Junior and Senior MGP running #35 in both races.
17th August 2016
After an uneventual drive through some of Britain’s finest and longest roadworks, team Dilligaf arrived at Heysham docks, under cover of darkness, on their way to the Manx Grand Prix 2016, with a fully laden van. After being checked in by the van measuring police, Steve and Elaine snuggled up for a romantic night out on board the overnight freight ferry.
18th August 2016
After a night of ‘sleeping’ on the legendary Manx carpet, the floor of the Ben My Chree, under a table, the tired twosome, Elaine and Steve, landed at the port of Douglas. With no time to waste, the pair hot foot it up to the paddock to set up base camp and their home for the next few days.
With the sun shining down upon them, it wasn’t long before paddock C base camp was operational and the pair were sipping caramel lattes in the sun before heading into Douglas and breakfast at the Café and a wonder around the paddock.
Once fed and watered, the pair took a short power nap before heading off to Jurby with Paul Moz Owen, to test his 250cc two-stroke, and a little known kiwi with a beard called Bruce, followed by a lap in the van with Paul providing a very interesting running commentary (thank you Paul).
19th August 2016
Rain rain and more rain. The cloak of Manannan had totally engulfed the mountain and a severe weather warning was given. The poor weather conditions hailed the start of the Manx Grand Prix!
Riders sign on and briefing took place in the afternoon as the last few teams arrived to set up in the last few remaining grassy paddock pitches, attaching awnings to any solid fixtures in a hope they would not become crumpled kites during the nights predicted storm and ocean swell.
With concerns about the weather, lack of sleep and hot water, team Dilligaf were kindly invited to stay in the comfort of four warm walls with a hot shower by Sector 12 marshal Mary Rose and her very sweet mum. Exhausted cold and wet, Steve and Elaine gratefully accepted the kind offer of a real bed, and enjoyed chips, Manx cheese n gravy and an odd tipple or two before a cosy night in the Douglas town house. Ah bisto!
20th August 2016
Day 4 and the only wheel that turned today was the steering wheel on the van as the island was once again bombarded by ‘occasional showers’ as described by the met office, in between the torrential down pours.
Pit crew chief Steve Gilkes arrived on board the early morning ferry to join the team in the sodden paddock. Together the tired trio watched the rains come down and the floods come up as they waited for news about the evenings practice. As predicted an announcement over the tannoy at two thirty informed riders there would be no practice.
Cold wet and tired the team set off to Port Erin to set up Dilligaf HQ in the picturesque seaside town, and enjoy a home cooked Italian supper and glass of vino.
21st August 2016
The Sabbath. After a hearty breakfast of Manx eggs on Manx toast with Manx butter, Steve and Steve set off to do more laps in the van with Paul commentating, while Elaine opted for the lighter option of fruit and yogurt and a run to the Calf of Man to say good morning to the seals.
After lunch, the team headed off to Peel for ice cream and watch the soap box Derby. After a day of glorious sunshine, shorts and t shirts, flip flops and sunglasses,the weather changed dramatically and by the time the team had arrived back at HQ, the rain was once again lashing down. With similar weather forecast for the next few days, practice for any of the teams was looking dodgy.
22nd August 2016
Once again the team woke to lashings of Manx rain but optimistic the Ronaldsway met office prediction of clear skies in the afternoon would be correct.
As the morning went on, their hopes began to dissipate as the rains perpetuated. Just as they were giving up all hope of a practice session that day, a strange looking orb appeared in the skies over Port Erin and the rains were blown out to sea by the south westerly breeze.
After a brief tour of the Port Erin lifeboat station to check out rescue procedures if the rains continued and a jet ski was needed to race, the team headed off to the paddock with the precious load, the bike, in the back of the van. Roads were dry and Manx radio was saying everything was on schedule for roads close at 6pm with the newcomers sighting lap set to start at 6:20pm.
At 2:20pm the boat from Liverpool arrived bringing Steve’s moody pit crew, sons Harry and Charlie who had given up their summer holiday to help their dad in the paddock and join the orange army with Elaine in the marshal’s core.
As the newcomers were now first out for the evening’s session, it meant a change in the schedule for both scrutineering and practice. Steve would follow the newcomers out on their speed control lap and would be part of the second wave of riders to leave the grandstand and head down the famous Bray Hill. Elaine and Charlie in their orange attire and woolly marshals hats, headed off to Joeys and mosquito paradise, as the bikes got ready to go out.
With true Manx military precision roads closed at precisely eighteen hundred hours and the first batch of newcomers set off ahead of schedule at 6:15pm, followed by the senior and junior MGP boys and the Superbike Classic riders. Michael Dunlop was first round the track clocking an impressive 121mph lap, setting the benchmark for everyone else.
Relieved to get out but slightly apprehensive as this was the Honda’s first lap around the TT mountain course, Steve had the famous ‘tap on the shoulder’, opened the throttle and set off down Bray Hill. Earlier in the day the team had changed suspension settings making the bike supposedly ‘softer’ at the rear but this caused a few issues with handling which Steve described in technical terms as ‘handling was c r a p’. Despite this and a series of yellow flags all around the course, Steve managed two smooth 105mph practice laps although visibly was decreased by the end of lap two due to a chronic case of visor fly!
23rd August 2016
Over night rain had cleared by the time the team woke but grey clouds and fog still shrouded the island teasing all the riders with occasional droplets of rain. The Ronaldsway met office predicted it would clear in the afternoon but the weather would once again close in later in the evening. Clerk of the course issued a statement to say scrutineering would go ahead as planned but a final decision on whether practice would go ahead would be issued at half past four.
Ever hopeful Steve and Steve set to work on the bike, making changes to the suspension and making minor modifications as requested by the scruntineers the day before.
After a busy day in the garage at HQ, they headed off to the paddock to do what they do best, wait. So they waited and waited and finally an announcement was by the Clerk of the course just after 5pm to say practice would go ahead as planned, with the senior and junior MGP riders now out in the first practice session.
Despite a short delay, the first riders headed off down Bray Hill with Tom Weeden, the team’s favourite for a podium and one of the front runners, looking smooth and quick on his Triumph 675r. Steve was in the second wave of riders and was more settled on the bike with the new settings. Once again the track was littered with yellow flags, even so early on in the session, and reduced visibility was a real issue especially around Black Box on the mountain section; stationary yellows were out all through sector 9 during his second lap as the fog had reduced visibility down to 10% in places and the metal flying pigeon couldn’t fly over. Despite this, Steve managed a 104.209 mph lap and looked smooth as he past Elaine and son Harry at Joey’s with 3 riders tucked in behind his slip stream.
Steve slightly moody with his times and disappointed with his progress returned to Dilligaf HQ for a steak supper lovingly prepared by gob on a stick, Elaine, to soothe his racing brow.
24th August 2016
Today the team were woken by glorious sunshine and perfect race conditions. With a hop skip and a jump they set off to the paddock to change the rear tyre and get a new rear sprocket. After tinkering with the bike in the HQ man cave, they set off for the paddock for the third practice session while Elaine took Kermit the KLX out exploring over the mountain.
Steve was once again in the first session and in the fifth wave of riders let out the ‘pens’. Tonight riders set off from the Glencrutchery Road, as they do on race day, but tonight they set off in pairs. With a tap on the shoulder and new Conti boots, Steve and the CBR set off down Bray Hill, throttle pinned, holding it flat in 6th by the time the dynamic duo reached St. Ninians crossroads. On board footage showed Moody had listened to his Welsh Master Yoda, making Ballagarey rather balla-scary, keeping the throttle pinned open through this important corner.
As the pair past Elaine, armed with radio and flags, and son Charlie at the top of Barregarrow, Steve looked smooth and confident. His sector times were up at each stage and Steve completed lap 1 in 21 minutes and 52 seconds with an average lap speed of 108:402 mph from a standing start.
At Steve passed the grandstand, it was clear to pit crew chief, the handsome and debonair Mr Steve Gilkes, that Steve and the new bike had finally jelled and the pair were flying! By lap 2, numerous yellow flags were scattered around the course, especially over the mountain where all riders, including Steve, needed to ease off the throttle and slow down. Despite cutting his speed considerably in the final sectors, Steve completed his second lap with a 109.455mph average lap speed. Sadly the session was red flagged shortly after following an incident at the Creg.
A happy Mr Moody returned to HQ for cottage pie and watch his on board laps. Unfortunately a fly had met its demise directly on the lens of the camera so footage was fly-blurred but the sound effects were good! And so was the cottage pie!
25th August 2016
Today Dilligaf HQ was a hive of activity as there was a lot to do to the bike before the evening’s extra practice session, and sons Harry and Charlie were off to do their IMC TT marshals course first thing.
Following recommendations from scruntineers the previous night, Steve and Steve needed to fit extra catch tanks on the bike, so Steve no.1 trotted off to the paddock to get bottles and hose pipes while Steve no.2 stayed behind to fix the belly pan yet again as Steve no.1 had ‘bottomed out’ in more than one place, leaving behind remnants of belly pan on the TT course, his little way of saying ‘Steve was here’.
Once the bike was all sorted, once again they headed off to the paddock with Elaine and Kermit, following in behind. On arrival Kermit was officially named ‘team pit bike’ and adorned with a TT paddock pass sticker.
While waiting for scrutineering, Elaine with Steve bravely in the pilly seat, went for a ride on Kermit into town to get a pie from the Manx Pie Shop and say hello to Rachel and her family in Douglas. Armed with supper and a breakfast pie for Mr Gilkes, the pair hot foot it back to the paddock for scrutineering, where for the first time this week they didn’t ended up in the ‘sin bin’.
Once again roads closed at 6pm. Elaine and Kermit went off marshalling in their favourite spot in sector five. Feeling confident Steve set off down Bray Hill, once again throttle pinned. The TT IOM live timings showed Steve was once again much faster in all sectors. Taking advice from Welsh master Yoda, Steve had again adjusted his settings making the bike more settled around the course. Steve was flying and hot on the heels of fellow Aberdare competitor Justin Collins who in all previous sessions had been considerably quicker than Steve. Steve knew he was on for a good time when sadly the session was red flagged and all riders past sector 8 all needed to be brought home to the paddock under under stationary yellows. Despite this Steve still managed a 107:36 mph lap. The session did not restart due to damage to the road at Churchtown following a fire and fog on the mountain road.
Steve and team would like to send their best wishes to any riders who may have been injured, and many thanks to all the marshals and tower crew for their superb work in getting all the stranded riders back safe.
As the team arrived home to HQ earlier than expected, Steve had to endure a hand holding romantic walk with Elaine along the sea front and discuss gears and cornering at Ballagarey!
26th August 2016
I can’t believe we set off off from home 10 days ago and still another week to go! So far it’s been amazing and I think all have enjoyed despite how tired everyone feels. So far Steve has done more complete laps than he did last year and still two more practice sessions to go!
Once again the island was adorned with perfect race conditions meaning all riders would hopefully get out tonight and complete at least two laps. The morning started with laps in the car and dropping supper off to master Yoda, followed by watching the Purple Helmets preform their unique show in pit lane.
As soon as the purple spectacular was over it was time to get ready for tonight’s practice session. Once again Elaine headed off to Barregarrow with son Harry while Charlie was honorary pit bitch!
Practice got underway 3 minutes early with the lightweights and super twins out first tonight. Steve was in the second practice session, setting off from pit lane. Steve didn’t get the best of start with a ‘moment’ at Union Mills giving Mr Moody quite a shake, but it wasn’t long before he was back in the stride of things and trying to chase Justin down once again.
Lap 2 went much better, despite a chicken being a moving chicane at the end of the Sulby Straight. Steve kept in pinned to complete the 37.73 miles in 20m 30s with an average lap speed of 110:342mph.
27th August 2016
Once again the weather gods showed favour on the riders as although it was slightly over cast, it was set to be great for the first day of racing. Today saw the start of the Classic TT with the Senior Classic TT heading the line up with the lightweight 250’s making centre stage later in the day.
Roads closed at 11am and Steve was out in practice after the Senior Classic TT race. The senior race saw John McGuiness’s first Classic TT victory after three years of catastrophe with the Paton. Second was Dean Harrison and third was Maria Castello who showed girl power was a force to be reckoned with!
Next out was the MGP boys on their 600’s for the practice session. Steve was one of the first group of riders to pass Elaine at Barregarrow flag and looked smooth and fast with three riders tucked in behind him as he disappeared over the top of Barregarrow.
Following yesterday’s ‘moment’ , Steve said he was going to follow Mr Cooper’s advice and just have a tickle round, so he did with an average speed of 110:99 mph!
On lap 2 yellow flags were being waved at Greeba Bridge and as Steve slowed and came round the bend, he could see poor Roger Wibberly sparked out on the deck. Steve has very much looked up to Roger over the years, in more ways than one, as a fellow roadster, and a true ambassador to the sport and a liaison officer at both Oliver’s mount and for the newcomers here on the island. After another ‘tickle round’ Steve returned to the pits to find news of Roger who had a few broken bones but was said to be well otherwise. All the best Roger and get well soon.
Join Moody on-board for a lap of the TT Mountain course
The second race of the day was the lightweight 250’s. Numerous bikes didn’t even make it to the start line with Ivan Linton and Dan Cooper just two riders who missed their start time. Bruce almighty was first off and set a record breaking first lap with Ian Lougher following over a minute behind. The chase was on for third was Master Yoda, Paul Moz Owen, battling it out for the last podium position. Paul rode a gallant last lap gaining over 10 seconds on Phil Harvey to cross the line in 4th.
Roads reopened after the final lightweight practice and the team trotted off to back to HQ to repair the belly pan again!
Sunday 28th August
Once again, the Sabbath and day of rest, so the team went to watch the Manx 2 day trial where fellow Oxfordshire lad Scott Faulkner finished 16th overall.
After a spot of lunch at Laxey, the team hot foot it over to Castletown to collect the young SkyWalker and delightful Miss Price from the airport, to complete this year’s team Dilligaf line up, and return to HQ to a rather nice Manx roast pork supper.
Monday 29th August
Monday and race day number two for the classic boys and the newcomers race. Roads closed at 9:30am so it was an early start for the team to get into Douglas before the start of the racing.
First race of the day was the Junior Classic TT which was once again dominated by Michael Dunlop with Michael Rutter in 2nd and Alan Oversby in 3rd. Despite stalling on the start and having to jump start her bike going down Bray Hill, Maria Castello took first in the 250cc class.
Next out was Steve and MGP boys in their final practice session. Once again Steve was ‘on it’ right from the start and in top gear as he reached St.Ninian’s crossroads flying past Elaine and Kate at Bray Hill. Steve had another ‘moment’ at Kirk Michael where he mounted the curb but was soon on his way again. Steve completed his first lap in 20 minutes and 10 seconds with an average lap speed of 112:164 mph, his fastest all week. On his second lap Steve tucked in behind Justin Collins on his Yamaha and the pair did a steady 109 mph lap in the glorious sunshine, out simply enjoying the ride!
Once practice was over Elaine and Kate had the awesome opportunity to watch the big boys do their stuff as the afternoon saw the classic superbikes take centre stage. With grins the size of Cheshire cats, the pair watched the bikes thunder off the start and towards St.Ninians, 10 seconds apart. Once again Dunlop dominated the race and girls thought he was going to do a summersault off his bike as he hit the pit limiter in pit lane for refuelling. They then went up on the Glencrutchly Road to see the boys power past the chequered flag, Micky D again taking the prized first place trophy. Dean Harrison crossed the line in second but disqualified along with three other riders for ‘technical infringements’ therefore Rutter was pronounced as second and the younger Dunlop brother William, third. The Ducati’s of Liz and Stafford Evans finished 11th and 23rd after the amended results taking a silver and bronze replica.
The last race of the day was the newcomers race. You could hear their hearts racing over the roar of the engines. The team went to the Creg to watch the race in awe of fastest newcomer Manxman Micheal Evans who won the race with decisive victory. After a terrific battle for second, Julian Trummer stole if from Wayne Humble on the final stages of the last lap. What a race!
Once racing was over, the team went off to meet friends at the British in Douglas and have a few drinks.
Tuesday 30th August
Day 14, no racing so the team went to Peel for ice cream and to see the seals at the Calf of Man.
The team had a practice pit stop before the lovely Erica cooked everyone an early gammon supper before they trotted off to Italian Bike Night in Port Erin so see some rare and unusual bikes with Erica taking a liking to one or two café racers Gerald!
Wednesday 31st August
Junior Manx Grand Prix race day. All at Dilligaf HQ were up early as they needed to be at scrutineering for half past eight. The team were feeling positive and confident after Steve’s 112 mph lap on Monday, and Steve felt he was on to break the 113 mph barrier, and gain a top 30 finish and a replica trophy.
Elaine had managed to gain an extra pit pass and joined the pit crew, Steve Gilkes, Damion Walker and newbie Pete Dalgleish on the Glencrutchery Road, the start finish line. Supporters were poised around the course to watch Moody and cheer him on.
Due to over night rain the race was delayed twice to allow the track to dry. All the team could do was wait. They were getting good at this waiting game now. Finally an announcement was made that the race would start at 11:45am with Steve’s starting time 5minutes and 40 seconds later in 35th place.
Elaine had the honour of walking down to the start line with Steve, and watched him set off towards Bray Hill, throttled pinned. Now all they could do was watch the live timings and leaderboard to see where on the course Steve was and how quick he was going.
Steve reached the first timed marker which was Glen Helen in 5 minutes and 13 seconds and then Ballaugh Bridge in 8 minutes 52 seconds (overall time). The excitement was mounting. Steve reached Ramsey in 12 minutes 43 seconds and the Bungalow in an overall time of 16 minutes and 36 seconds. On lap 1 Steve crossed the start finish line in 20 minutes and 26 seconds with a average lap speed of 110.796 mph. Steve was flying.
On lap 2 once again all the team and supporters could do was watch the live timings, and wait for his light to come on to signal Steve was at Cronk Dy Mona and get ready for the pit stop. Following an impressive 111 mph lap Steve pulled into the pits to refuel. The pitstop was perfect and Steve was in and out of pit lane in under a minute, and flying back down Bray Hill again. Once again all the team could do was wait for his return and fly pass.
Elaine was sat in grandstand with Kate watching eagle eyed for the light to come on to say he would soon be passing by the grandstand flat out with the throttle pinned, and commence his final lap. They waited and waited, but no light came on. They watched riders who started before and after Steve fly past but no Steve arrived. Live timings last showed him at the Bungalow. Worried Elaine went to find out where Steve was and what if anything had happened.
The words ‘there has been an incident’ and ‘airlifted to Nobles’ followed by the words ‘Keppel Gate’ sent cold terrifying shiver down Elaine’s spine and she feared the worse. Time seemed to stand still. With great relief, a call came from one of the marshals at the gate rang to say Steve was conscious, but now it was how to get to Nobles with roads closed. Pete kindly offered to take Elaine and the pair set off to find Steve, map and sat Nav in hand.
The journey seemed to take forever and all they could do was sit and wait for news of Steve’s condition in A&E. At last Elaine was told she could go through, not knowing what to expect she tentatively went to find Steve. Steve was in the resuscitation room, Elaine’s heart was pounding as she walked through the door…… to see Steve sat up his hand covered in blood saying ‘do you think I will be ok to race Friday?’ with a typical Moody silly smile. What a relief to see him conscious and relatively ‘unscathed’. Steve was very battered and bruised with a broken finger, thankfully shaken but not stirred! He had to have an op on the finger to have it pinned and a wire fitted to rebuild it but no other broken bones, just a bad case of concussion.
On hearing the news of Steve’s incident, master Yoda Paul Owen and the little known kiwi with a beard called Bruce, hot foot it over to the hospital to see how Steve was. Sadly Steve was still in theatre but Elaine and the boys were happy to see them both. The waiting room in the ward was getting quite busy with families and friends carrying helmets, waiting to see their loved ones, their rider. It was a busy day day for terrific staff at Nobles Hospital.
Steve was allowed to go home that day with nurse Elaine and bag of medicines but the team’s dream for 2016 had ended. Steve Gilkes and Damion went to get the bike from the mountain. That too was beaten up like the rider. A gust of wind had unsettled the bike and by the time Steve had settled it again, he had run out of road to brake and could only look for a suitable ‘landing’ site. Quick thinking he missed the large metal chevrons and tried to aim for the open gate but missed and hit the fence and gate post. The bike stopped but Steve continued his journey through the air, traveling some considerable distance be before landing head first in the gravel.
His HJC helmet, and Scott Leathers race suit had done their job amazingly and protected Steve so well on a corner that had seen far worse injuries in the past. The GB engine protection kit also saved the bike from engine damage once again. but needless to say damage to the bike and poor Steve drew an untimely end to the Manx GP 2016 for the team