After getting 2:15am and 2:15pm a little confused, the first two Dilligaf explorers, Mr and Mrs Moods, set sail on the good ship Ben-My-Chree, destination, the Isle of Man and the Manx Grand Prix! Refreshed from a daylight journey rather than an overnight trek, it wasn’t long before Camp Dilligaf was all set up and the kettle was on!
This was set to be Steve’s 7th year competing in the Manx Grand Prix, entering the Junior and Senior MGP on his CBR600rr and both Ultra lightweight races on the Honda NC29 babyblade.
This years team members:
Racer – Captain Caveman Steve Moody
Crew chief – Steve ‘Big Hammer’ Gilkes
Works cloth man – Ray Stevens
Gasman – Andy Hoare
Pit Monkey – Charlie Moody
Teen angels – Elaine Moody, Erica Gassor, Julie Jackson supported this year by Hazel Hoare and Poppy Jackson
Steve spent the day tinkering with the bikes before doing a few laps on his road bike with Elaine in hot pursuit! The evenings entertainment included an hour queueing to sign on, clothing and technical inspections, and a romantic meal for two, donar kebab and chips! More and more race teams poured off the ferry as the paddock burst into life.
Despite a cold wet and windy day, Mr and Mrs Moods had the wonderful pleasure of witnessing Jamie and Mia becoming Mr and Mrs Storey at Ramsey town hall; a slightly unusual ceremony where the groom couldn’t remember the bride’s name and sausage dogs were on the guest list!
Next stop was Ronaldsway Airport to collect the pit monkeys Charlie and Poppy and of course pit crew chief Mr Steve Big Hammer Gilkes. With the team now half assembled, they trotted off to Douglas for a rather nice Italian supper with Island friends Mary Rose and Marytn.
Typically poor weather and lack of marshals meant that the first practice session often gets cancelled but this year there was vicious rumour spreading that in fact roads would close at 5pm and the first practice would get underway as planned at 5:20pm. With slight glimmer of practice hope and some sausage sarnies, the team prepped both bikes ready for their first outing round the mountain course in 2018.
Elaine headed off to her usual Marshal post at the top of Barregarrow with newly weds Jamie and Mia Storey as Gary Thompson, Clerk of the course, announced roads would close at 5pm with the newcomers heading off on their speed control lap. After a short delay, proceedings commenced at 5:40pm; roads were dry but the fog was loitering around the mountain, threatening to stop the race fun at any moment. Nervously and excitedly, the newcomers set off on their speed control lap with riders such as Roger Wibberly guiding the intrepid adventures around the 37.75 mile TT mountain course.
Next the MPG Senior and Junior were let out of their pens; like wild animals caged up all year, they headed off down Bray Hill for the first time with throttles pinned open!
Steve looked good as flew past Elaine on Barregarrow Hill on the 600, clocking up an impressive 108.3mph lap from a standing start despite missing his braking marker and overshooting at the hairpin, saying hello to Ruth as came a little too close to comfort to the Marshals post!
On his second lap, Steve went quicker still, completing the 37.75 mile course in 20 minutes 39 seconds, with an average lap speed of 109.6mph. Sadly little Erin failed scrutineering and with little time and pairs of hands in the paddock, Steve had to forgo his first practice on the babyblade.
The Sabbath and as always for team Dilligaf, a day of rest. So the day consisted of a little bike tinkering and sand racing and ice creams at Dilligaf Island HQ, Port Erin.
Port Erin also celebrated an Island at War.
The island woke to fog on all corners, Manannan’s Cloak had engulfed the island. The team, the paddock, the marshals, the spectators waited and watched, hoping the fog would life so practice could go ahead but alas it did not go away. With all on tenterhooks, Gary Thompson announced practice was cancelled. A disappointed paddock settled for the night and the team returned to Port Erin, Dilligaf island HQ.
Once again the island came under siege from the fog but optimistically the team trundled into a dreary overcast Douglas.
After a lap of the track on the road bikes and a glimmer of hope shining through the fog, the team prepped the bikes as Gary Thompson, Clerk of the Course, announced practice would go ahead.
As the sun came out to play, scruntineering began and woolley hats were swapped for sunglasses as the Manx weather changed dramatically in minutes.
With all the bikes prepped, scutineered and riders ready to go, the weather once again changed and this time for the worse. As quickly as the fog disappeared, it returned with a vengeance as roads closed. Practice was again cancelled. A very disappointed team Dilligaf returned to Port Erin, totally engulfed by the sea mist, for a couple of banana beers.
Despondingly the team woke to wind, rain and yet more fog! All hopes for practice going ahead were drifting out to sea with the tide. However, by early afternoon the sun had courageously won the battle of the skies as the announcement came over the tannoy, practice was a goer! The teams rushed to get the bikes through scrutineering and waited….and waited…and waited, patiently and then impatiently.
Sadly, due to an incident at Guthrie’s on open roads just before the roads close, practice was delayed and as light began to fail, the chance of any practice was fading with the sunlight. First the senior and junior MGP session was cancelled and then the lightweight and ultra lightweight boys were sent back to the paddock leaving just the newcomers in Parc Ferme. As the sun set over the Irish sea, the newcomers finally were sent out for their second speed control lap. With no or very little practice now taken place, extra sessions were planned for Thursday and Friday afternoon, but the weather and lack of marshals could again halt proceedings.
Day 9 and Steve had still only had two laps of practice on the 600 and none on the babyblade. With a hop, skip and dark clouds forming, the team once again set off to the paddock hoping that the numerous weather apps Elaine had checked were all wrong. But alas Elaine and her weather apps were right and just as roads were about to close for afternoon practice, the heavens opened. Rivers of water ran down Laurel Bank and Glen Helen, and a large mass of water began forming at the bottom of Bray Hill. Riders hearts sank to the bottom of the Sulby reservoir thinking practice would be a wash out again, but like a flick of a switch, the sun appeared and roads started drying out; evening practice was looking hopeful.
Despite, another Manx shower, roads closed at 6pm. At 6:20pm the first riders from the lightweight/ ultra lightweight class set off with dark clouds looming all round the circuit. This was Steve’s first time out on little Erin on the TT mountain course even through the NC29 was no newcomer to the circuit having taken Islander Gav Brown to third in the 400 class in 2017. The pair flew past Elaine and Julie at Barregarrow, overtaking another rider as he disappeared over the hill. The girls watched the live timings as Steve and Dan Ingham battled to be the faster rider.
Steve was over 10 seconds a lap faster than Dan as he passed the girls and waved! He was a man on a mission, head down arse up and teeth gritted! However, sadly there were a number of accidents on the mountain which Steve had to roll off but still finished third in class just a second slower than friend and rival Dan.
As the session drew to an end, the heavens again opened calling an abrupt end to the session. Dilligaf Racing would like to wish those who were injured, a speedy recovery.
After a successful two laps on the 400, Moody woke with a smile, but it may have been wind! Two practice sessions had been scheduled for today but it looked like the weather gods would hold the paddock to ransom once again. Roads were due to close at midday but more delays hindered the start of practice until the heavens opened with a vengeance causing practice to be cancelled once again. The paddock was in total despair with may riders still not completed even a single lap. questions were being asked, would the rules change, would the schedule change, would the sun come out to play at all!
By late afternoon, the roads were dry and there was a glimmer of sunshine and hope. Scrutineering went ahead as planned and bikes and riders waited in their pens for roads closed. Without any more delays, the first bikes were on the roads at 6:20pm. First out were the junior and senior MGP boys alongside the Classic superbike and lightweight riders. Steve was in the second wave of riders to be let loose and was eager to test out new suspension settings.
Passing Elaine at Barregarrow, he led the pack following an overtake at the Ballaskyre Farm, eager to impress his wife! Moody looked smooth and steady on the 600 dressed in the Scott Leathers and matching orange wheels! Despite strong winds over the mountain, Moody completed two uneventful (we like uneventful here) 109mph laps on his CBR600rr.
With a spring in his step and eager to impress wifey on the 400, Steve dismounted the 600 and mounted the babyblade, adrenaline still pumping fast from the previous session. Moody and the little pocket rocket were on it from the start and by the time they reached Ballaugh they were the fastest in their class….. but then disaster struck, little Erin began to cough and splutter, only firing on three cylinders. Moody pulled over thinking he may have left the fuel tap turned off by mistake, and after tinkering with the bike, he set off again, hoping the issue would resolve itself. However, once again the 400 dropped power causing Steve to pull over again. Never one to give up, once again Steve set off after another feckle and fiddle. Sadly despite his best efforts, at Black Hut, Erin decided enough was enough and that was the end of practice for Steve. Returning to Port Erin for a fish and chip supper, the Steve and Steve discussed potential issues and solutions!
As the sun rose the team set off to the paddock to fix the 400. They were certain the problem was a fuel issue and sure enough they were right! Following a bacon butty and a new fuel filter, little Erin was happily ticking over again, ready for practice later.
Four pit crew, three practice sessions, two bikes and one rider waited for roads close, checking skies and weather apps constantly! At 11:30am precisely, the first bikes set off down Bray Hill. The 600 was out in the first practice session and Elaine was excited to be pit crew today. She walked along the Glencrutchery Road with her man, watching him vanish at St Ninians.
Within minutes of setting off the spine chilling news that Steve had crashed at Ballacraine came over the tannoy. Fortunately Steve was in one piece thanks to his Scott Leathers but the bike was a little worse for wear. Once the team knew Steve was safe and sound albeit bruised and battered, they went to collect the bike which to their surprise, was almost intack but cosmetically it did not as healthy as the rider!
While Steve was being checked over and cleared for racing the Bennetts Senior Classic TT race took place which the legend John McGuiness won.
Steve, not deterred by his injuries, was determined to venture out in the second practice session on the 400, wanting to check the mechanical issue from the night before had been resolved and that he could still ride after his high speed slide. Steve was like a man possessed as he and the babyblade set off, throttled pinned! Despite the battering he took hitting the curb at Ballacarine at 100mph plus, Steve pulled off an impressive 101.7 mph on the NC29 to finish fourth in class! What a Moody ride! The team celebrated with ice cream before heading back to Dilligaf HQ to begin operation CBR!
Rain rain and more rain! Relentless rain fell all over the island all day as the team began the operation CBR, the rebuild. 14 hours Mr Gilkes worked on the bike while Elaine sourced parts and Julie and Erica cooked dinner! A true team effort to get Old Moods back out on track! While Big Hammer did his stuff, Elaine and Erica planned operation retrieve Moody in the event he broke down in the junior race to get him back to the paddock for the ultra lightweight race, dividing the track into three sections and instructing Steve on retirement hot spots where members of the ‘recovery squad’ could be waiting to bring him safely back to the paddock! With Elaine volunteering to cover the mountain section and home straight, Moody was determined not to break down having once before ridden pilly with his wife! All they could do now was wait for Gasman Andy and engine casing to complete the team and rebuild!
Day 13 unlucky for some or possibly lucky for others. It was another day of rain but this would was to work in the teams favour as they continued to battle against the clock to fix the somewhat battered CBR. Delays gave the team more time and chance of practice laps either later in the day or with any luck the next day! As more and more delays were announced, hopes of a practice session tomorrow to test the CBR the next day were becoming more and more likely, and as Gary Thompson announced that the newcomers race would be held on Tuesday with TWO practice laps for the MGP boys, Elaine and Erica cheered as the rest of the paddock sighed! Operation CBR had a fighting chance of succeeding!
It was now a waiting game, waiting for Gasman Andy Hoare and his good lady Hazel with engine casing, plastics and clip-ons! While they waited they watched Junior Classic TT from St Ninians. Steam Packet was on time and it wasn’t long before Andy’s truck was unloaded and the rebuild continued. Crew Chief Mr Gilkes and Gasman Andy worked tireless hour after on the bike now lovingly named Frankenstein’s monster! Each time they repaired one problem they found another! With midnight passing, they decided to get some rest and restart again tomorrow with their list of parts now to include new brake lines and petrol tank!
Feeling more optimistic than pessimistic, the team set off to the paddock in dry but gloomy conditions. Despite the grey dull clouds overhead, the threat of rain stayed away and roads closed as planned at 11:30. Gasman Andy and pit crew chief Mr Gilkes needed to change brake lines and continue to make more adjustments to the 600 in preparation for the afternoons practice session while Elaine continued her search for a new fuel tank. With time running out, a unanimous team decision was to send Steve out on the repaired 600 if ready but have little Erin ready and waiting if ‘Frank’ was still under going surgery!
Following the newcomers race, Steve set off down Bray Hill with all holding their breath and watching the TT live timings app! He hadn’t got far before he realised the bike wasn’t quite right and the foot peg fell off, so he retired at Braddan Bridge, returning via open roads to the paddock to jump on the 400, slightly less dignified than a Marc Marquez bike switch, and pulled a 101.4 mph lap out of the bag on the babyblade!
After changing the rubber boots on both bikes, the team set off back to HQ for an earlish night and a rather nice homemade curry with alarms set for day break to prep the nc29 for the first of its two lightweight races and repair the slipping slipper clutch on the CBR ready for the Junior MGP race.
After a restless night in Port Erin, the team and most importantly Mr Moody, deliberated and contemplated and decided to withdraw from the Junior Manx Grand Prix. It was a very difficult decision but after asking his wife her opinion, fatal at anytime, and with neither bike and rider 100%, it was a unanimous and sensible decision. They could spend the day getting bike and Moody race ready and send the pair out later in practice after the race.
Disappointed but knowing they had made the right decision, the team focused on the 400 and getting little Erin ready for the first of her two races, the MGP Ultra Lightweight races. Moody had been fourth quickest overall in practice and had a chance of a possible podium. As it had done week, the bike sailed through scrutineering and the team united took Moody onto the Glencrutchery Road ready to set off down Bray Hill.
All they could do was watch Moody and Erin vanish off into the distance and wait 22 minutes for the pair to fly past the grandstand. Reports round the island came in that Moody was looking good and on a mission. He was just 10 seconds behind Dan and Tom Snow was 5 seconds behind Moody. He was flying. Then disaster hit yet again! Coming out of Governors Steve felt the back end twitch and as he was about to cross the line on lap 1, the back end locked up, ending his hopes on a podium or a finish in the race.
Gutted the team then turned its attention to the 600 and the final practice session. All Moody could do was have a ‘tickle round’ and see if Frank the CBR600rr was OK to race. As Steve got to Ramsey the clutch began to slip and then as he went past the Bungalow, it began to misfire…. the clutch and rectifier were the next things on the list of things to fix! With time against them, trying to source the tool to change the clutch and a new rectifier would not be easy but the girls were on it immediately, calling texting, facebooking, nagging (which they do well) to find the much needed parts as the ferry docked with the new fuel tank! The race to fix the 600 was on!
Day 16 and another day in paradise! From day break the team tried to source a new rectifier but the search was proving fruitless. While Andy and Hazel went looking for a tool to replace the clutch, Elaine continued to nag everyone in her search and cook bacon butties. They were determined not to give up! With news of a rectifier landing the next morning around the time of the start for the 400 race, Plan W, Operation Rectifier, went into motion with fellow rider Callum Ward offering to step into Andy’s fuel man shoes to free up Andy to continue repairs on Frank the CBR and get the bike through scutineering for the senior MGP. It was going to be tight and they up against but all had faith they could make this latest work!
All day Steve and Andy operated on the 600 trying to fix the slipping slipper clutch and electrical issue while Elaine tore around the paddock trying to find the parts they needed. By late afternoon the clutch was fixed and the team celebrated with a fish and chip supper from Port Jack Chippy while they pondered over plan W for tomorrow as despite their continued efforts they had still not been able to find the part they thought they needed and to their dismay had discovered the bike had a Kawasaki rectifier on it which meant the part arriving first thing wouldn’t fit anyway! Determined not to give up they soldiered on! Plan X was needed!
While guys looked at a range of options, Elaine and Hazel returned the equipment borrowed earlier in the day from Dave at Motoevo in Ramsey. Dave had been a gem and lent them an unusual tool to remove the slipper clutch so the plates could be changed. This visit would be the turning point and a lesson in physics.
Dave showed and explained to the interested girls the workings of an alternator, generator, casing and electromagnetism. Suddenly there was a light bulb moment and the sudden realisation that potentially they had been searching for the wrong part all the time! Kind Dave offered to help so the guys loaded the bike into the van and rushed to Ramsey. Sure enough they were wrong! After a day of searching for a alternator that wouldn’t fit anyway, it was the casing around the generator that had lost it magnetism in the crash so it wasn’t charging the battery hence the misfiring the day before in practice! Eureka! BUT it was now 9pm and where on the island could we get the part….. I know Andy Grimshaw! Poor Andy, who is now on Elaine’s speed dial, once again came to the team’s rescue with the much needed parts!
Kind Dave at Evomoto entertained the boys while the girls went to fetch the parts from the southern end of the island. Within minutes of returning, Dave had the bits on the bike and the bike running with a quick dyno run! The bike, Frankenstein’s monster, was running, the senior race was on! smiling the team returned to HQ just as the van was about to turn into a pumkin at midnight. Exhausted they crawled into bed dreaming of sliver ladies.
This was the last day of the Manx Grand Prix and final races. The team had been working until midnight the night before and were up again early to continue to put the 600 back together and the 400 through scrutineering. The 400 was in the second ultra light weight race run alongside the lightweights and the 600 was in the senior MGP.
As always the little baby blade sailed through scrutineering and was ready and raring to go when a 30 minute delay was announced which gave the tired team a little extra time to put the fairings on the 600, Frank, and get the fuel ready for the 400, Erin.
At 10:15 the first call for the start of the race was announced, the race was due to start at 10:45. With the pit stop planned at the end of lap one to refuel, bikes and riders were called up to the start line, the Glencrutchery Road. Steve was number 60 but start position 55. Elaine and Erica joined the boys as they walked by Steve’s side towards the start line and watched Steve head off towards St Ninians and vanish down Bray Hill. They could only wait, pray and watch their phone apps to ensure Moody passed each timing point at Glen Helen, Ballaugh, Sulby, Ramsey, Bungalow, Cronk ny Mona and the Grandstand.
Moody and Erin were flying. After so much disappointment, Moody was on a mission, throttle pinned surrounded by red mist! Elaine squealed as he went through Glen Helen in 2nd, again at Ballaugh, Ramsey, the Bungalow, Cronk and past the grandstand into the pits for refuelling. Moody knew he was doing well but was overjoyed to hear he was second behind Darryl Tweed, winner of race one. With a splash and dash, Moody was off again, disappearing down Bray Hill again. As this was a three lap race, riders would pit at the end of lap 1 or 2 and some possibly without stopping at all. The team would have to wait until all had pitted or not pitted before Moody’s true position could be identified.
Steve was only one of two riders who stopped at the end of lap 1 so dropped back into 7th on lap 2 but not deterred he pushed on. The team nervously watched as riders came into fuel at the end of lap 2 with three going straight on without having to stop as their fuel tanks had the capacity to do three laps without stopping. With the trotted pinned Moody began to make up places moving into 6th and then 5th. All watched and waited to see if those who didn’t put would run out of fuel or if Moody could make the surge into 4th. With an amazing flying lap of 104.63 mph Moody crossed the line in 5th in the ultra lightweight race 2 with Erin intact to hugs and cheers from the team and supporters.
Next out was Frank, the 600. With all the efforts the boys had been in to get the bike ready, Steve was determined to finish not matter how fast or slow, here a finish is a finish! With bated breath, they once again watched Steve disappear down Bray Hill, all glued to their phone apps to again he passed each timing point! First Glen Helen and then Ballaugh and then ….. and then… he didn’t register at Sulby. Elaine went to investigate. Despite all the efforts of so many, Steve had to retire after the clutch failed. All were gutted but pleased Moody was safe and the bike was intact albeit with a nakered clutch.
Once Moody was back safe and sound the team celebrated with not just one but two buckets of dunking donuts!
What a fortnight it had been, poor weather which meant lack of practice, a crashed bike to rebuild, Moody battered and bruised, a team exhausted working long days, emotional highs and lows and a silver lady to end the week!
Dilligaf Racing would like to thank all their friends here on the island who helped when the going got tough especially Andy Grimshaw and Dave at Evomoto for all their help.