NW200 Report

So finally, we get to make our NW200 debut- personally, I think it’s long overdue, but because of work commitments it’s never been possible…. until now.

We flew to Belfast on the Saturday eve, and took advantage of some real Irish hospitality courtesy of the Moore’s- they really do spoil us.

Sunday- breakfast on the patio in the sunshine was giving us more of a holiday vibe, but before Roley had chance to don his “mankini” we were in the truck heading up to Portstewart. A long day was spent building the awning, which mostly consisted of looking for bits put away last August (the last time we used it)- by 2200hrs we were done.

Monday-final prep on the bikes followed by a trip the famous anchor bar for some food, early night though as 1st practice in the morning. 

Gavin was out 1st, having to do 3 laps behind an instructor, as he was a newcomer. He came in after his session refuelled and went out with Dan in the SSP session. The day went by in a flash of different practice sessions, the riders seemed to be enjoying it and the mechanics were running around making sure everything was ready for them. We had a few issues to sort with Dan’s 600, he was down on top speed, whereas Gavin’s was one of the fastest. We looked into engine mapping, aerodynamics and weight differences- changes were made to map and the screen was lifted.

There was a good vibe in the paddock, and in true Topgun style, we joined in (we won’t go into detail, but Wurz was heard shouting as he fell out of the tractor unit…. again!!)

Thursday - a day of practice, followed by some races in the evening. Dan’s 600 was still down on top speed, he couldn’t run over 162mph without a slipstream where Gavin could reach 168pmh. Both did 172mph in a slipstream- this still has us scratching our heads and we are looking into some high-speed testing on a runway before the TT.

Gavin had 2 fantastic races- starting in the 2nd group he fought his way up, passing many riders including some chap called Guy Martin, to take an impressive 2nd place in group, and 22nd overall. An impressive debut.

Dan hindered by lack of speed and lack of set up time, had a best result of 16th- still impressive in this company but not what he came for. What we do have though is some really good set up information going to the TT in a few days’ time.

After doing our magic trick of getting all our setup back into the truck (you would not believe how small an artic seems), it was time for some more Irish hospitality, thanks Karen & Brian.

Altogether, not a bad debut-I’m sure we will be back.

Oh and did I mention- a certain someone missed his flight home……………..?(Dan😊)

The story so far……..

After a manic month, we are doing our final shakedown test at Castle Combe before we leave for the NW200 and TT

Having a full blown superbike is fantastic but the extra work it brings has been a bit of an eye opener, it has certainly kept us buy the past few weeks.

After a positive 1st test at Castle combe we moved to Cadwell park for a weekend of Racing, both the SBK & SSP bikes proved they are going to be very competitive package’s, takings race wins in their respective classes. 

As well as all the testing, Wurz has now left the RAF after 31yrs so he can commit fully to running the team, not sure how he will cope having to work for a living! Dan has been busy expanding his Motorcycle shop, as well as moving into his new house and his new-found love for Ikea! Gav has also moved into a new house; not sure the Ikea craze has reached Otley yet though.

Oliver’s Mount and the Spring cup…. This was our 1st outing with the whole team and in the 2017 livery so obviously we were keen to impress. Now if you have never been to the mount, you won’t have seen how small the paddock is, it certainly wasn’t designed to take our 40ft artic, but with some expert manovering from Pete our driving we were in, and somehow, he had managed to park it right outside the bar?? 

Saturday morning was a wet and cold affair so both riders decided to sit out of practice, qualifying wasn’t much better, both riders went out on dry tyres, Dan on slicks on the SBK! Cant have been to bad as Dan put both SBK &SSP bikes on front row with Gav on the 5th.

Throughout the weekend, they both kept chipping away at their lap times, setting new PB’s on all bikes, Dan came away with a brace of second places on the SBK, including a fantastic 2nd place in the Feature event, the Spring Cup. 

Judging by the amount of people around the awning wanting to speak to not only the riders but Pete the truck driver too, I think we achieved our goals both on and off track.

So straight to Castle Combe for our final test before heading off to the NW200 & TT. After 2 days of shock out/shock in I believe we now have a set up to start our Roads campaign with. We can’t thank Honda enough for inviting us to take part on their test, and the staff of the circuit for their hospitality.

In other news, Tommo, Dan’s long time mechanic has joined the team, but as well as us he has been head hunted to work for some chap called Leon Haslam, nice one mate, show them how the roads boys do it. 

I won’t mention Roley losing the trailer of the back of the tractor unit, a good driver always checks his load mate!

Finally, we would like to wish Snowy’s wife Adel a speedy recovery after been involved in a rather nasty horse riding accident, Dangerous things those horses!

Classic / Manx Gp 2015 Report

I'm starting to think the Isle of Man is like a time machine! I don't believe it was 3 weeks ago that I arrived here and yet I'm sitting on the boat now going home. It's maybe more to do with the great racing, great company and great atmosphere we always have here.

Anyway to the news, team Topgun does it again in the Classic TT F1 race, finishing 1st Privateer and 14th overall.

The team has been flat out since the TT building their classic bike, a 1992 Kawasaki ZXR750K, a true weapon in its day. This one was ridden in BSB by John Neate back in 1993/4, and the team has completely restored/modernised it to almost WSBK spec.

The only downside was lack of testing. With the paint almost dry, Wurz took it to Cadwell Park, but she had an oil leak- so back to the workshop. With the oil leak fixed next stop Jurby. Things were looking good as the sun was even shining, and things went well with the bike too. AJ was impressed; we ironed out a few fuelling issues, then AJ called it a day- before he got carried away apparently.

The Manx weather was not kind to us initially- but then we’re used to that by now! Early practice week was a washout but the organisers did some great rescheduling and we had extra practice in the sunshine.

Unfortunately the bike developed a fuel starvation fault and broke down in both remaining practice sessions. Our only option was to change everything! The only problem is the next session was the race on Monday, not ideal.

This was Saturday night and we had been invited to our local friend’s 40th party- red theme.

So twisting the Topgun theme once more, red t shirts were purchased and our artist snowy decorated them-along with some twists on their call signs (unfortunately these are not repeatable). The town was certainly painted RED that night, followed by a party in the awning where I think the whole paddock was there. Top night!!

Anyway back to business.... We also had a rider out in the MGP- another South African Colin Lehmann. Now Colin was a newcomer to the course in 2013, but didn't have the best of luck and his bike broke down in both races. AJ had told Colin we were looking for a rider- he was straight on the phone! He was to ride the Honda 600 in both Junior and Senior races.

If I was to say Colin was impressed with the bike would be a major understatement! In fact, the only adjustment we made all week was to move the rear sets back. The smile on his face every night said it all. Again, he was affected by the weather, but chipped away at his times all week managing to surpass his previous lap time almost straight away.

Both his races went to plan- every lap he went a little faster eventually reaching an impressive 109.7mph, he was going quicker again on his last lap, but unfortunately it was red flagged.

So that just about brought the fortnight to an end, obviously we had to have another party, but let's leave it at that.

I would like to say well done to both riders. Both impressed the team with their commitment and constant quest for improvement. You’re both welcome back anytime!!

Cheers to all the team, who worked non- stop to build and get the bike ready in time-then iron out all the problems.

I would also like to say get well soon to our other superstar rider Gav. Unfortunately, following a crash at the Ulster GP, he was unable to compete. Gav had to sit on the sidelines watching someone else win-we feel your pain mate-next year!!

Till next time…..

Oh yeah AJs race- the modifications worked- and he only went and won the Privateers….

AJ Venter to stay with Top Gun Racing for TT 2015

South African Superbike Racer and former British Championship podium finisher Allann Jon Venter, has today confirmed he will once again be riding for Topgun Racing at this years TT. He will once again be competing in the Superbike, Supersport and Superstock classes onboard the same 2 Hondas from 2014.

AJ commented “as it’s my 3rd year back at the famous mountain course, I am really happy to remain Topgun mounted for a 2nd year. I was over the moon with last year’s achievement as they were my best to date. Of the 6 races which we competed in, I managed to come home with 4x Bronze Replicas and 2x finisher’s medals. When Wurz rang me up and offered me the ride again this year, there wasn't even a hesitation in saying yes! Being my 3rd year at the course I am aiming to keep chipping away at the times and move into the 120mph bracket"

AJ finished all 6 races in 2014, recording a personal best lap speed of 119.6mph

Wurz Cox (Team Owner) said “AJ impressed us all last year with his pure passion and dogged determination to succeed at the TT, this along with the fact we all bonded so well last year made it a very easy decision to invite him back for 2015”

Top Gun Racing TT 2014 report

With a new rider and a mixture of old and new machinery, we set off for our main event of the year, the Isle of Man TT. The team's new rider is South African Allann-Jon Venter, a former BSB front runner and genuine top bloke. We had met him last year when he rode for our paddock neighbours Team DP coldplating so when the event organisers said he was looking for a ride, a deal was done. This would mean we had to source a bike for the superbike races: this proved more difficult than we thought as bikes with a proven pedigree don't often come up for sale and a new build is out of our budget. Fortunately, we were offered and subsequently bought Dan Cooper’s 2013 Honda CBR1000RR, a proven package that had already lapped the TT Course at over 124mph.

So Wurz and the boys from X-Bikes Racing set about the bike preparation. To get a race bike around a normal circuit of say 2-3 miles is tough enough but to build a bike to take on the 37.73 mile TT circuit takes time and certain attention to detail most don't understand. Let me try to explain; at the TT the bikes go from the start line straight down Bray Hill, so that's from a standing start to as fast as it will go (150mph+) followed by heavy breaking into Quarterbridge, so in the space of 2 miles the bikes has been through severe extremes, so the bikes have to be right from the minute you open the throttle; there is absolutely no room for error.  Furthermore, if the bike fails and the rider is stuck out on circuit he will miss vital practice time. Over the winter they are stripped and everything is checked, some parts are sent away for stress testing, any worn parts are replaced, the engines and suspension units are totally rebuilt.  They look almost brand new by the time they are finished (how a race bike should) This process takes time about 5 months of evening work to do all 3 bikes, is it worth it........?

The logistics of getting everything to the IOM itself is no easy feat, not helped by the fact that the team are spread all around the country. We need to get all the personnel, race truck, bikes, awnings, vans and all our gear across. So although the first of us arrived on the Tuesday before practice week to start the set up, the whole team and trucks weren't together until the following Saturday, which is the first day of practice. So once the Topgun village is complete we can get on with the job in hand, racing! 

For the rider the preparation also starts early, they need to try to learn as much of the track as possible before they start.  This is usually done in the form of watching on board laps. AJ was no exception, his preparartion consisted of a minimum of three on board laps a day for the past five months, not to mention an extreme training regime that started at 0430 with a daily run, followed by 2 hrs of MMA training on an evening, culminating with a session in the gym.  Dedication for sure! (I'm tired just writing that)

Ok, enough build up let's go racing.  The TT starts with a week of practice, which takes place during the evening between 6-8pm (as the roads needs to be closed and theses times cause less inconvenience to the islanders), followed by a week of racing run during the day.  Most of the island is on holiday for this week, in fact Senior race day is a Bank Holiday in the Isle of Man. 

Saturday afternoon arrives and it's time to take the bike through scrutineering ready for first practice, just as the sun disappears and the rain comes down.  This brings about a message from the clerk of the course to say practice is cancelled. After all the work and time, the build up, the nerves, you can feel the paddock sigh.  It may only be two nights until our next practice on Monday but now that seems like a lifetime away. Oh well, at least we now have time to do a bit of socialising.

Monday night comes and the paddock has come alive in a way you have to be there to understand.  The bikes all set off and then the first bike comes flat out past the pits, the ground vibrates, the air oscillates and a small shiver shoots down your spine, TT 2014 is underway!! 

With three bikes to qualify for the six races the Topgun camp is flat out. The bikes are stripped, checked and adjusted as required after every session. Part of having a new rider is adapting the bikes to his particular riding style.  This took a few nights but we got there and even though we lost a few nights’ practice due to the weather and other incidents beyond our control, AJ was happy. The new Fireblade did prove to be a stubborn beast to start with, with stability problems at various parts of the Course, but after a few suspension and geometry adjustments it started to behave; by the end of the process she still wasn't perfect but we were out of time. AJ instantly liked the CBR600 and the Supertwin, declaring them almost toy like compared to the big thou! 

After Friday evening’s practice the Team set about preparing the Fireblade for Saturdays Superbike race.  Wurz then popped the question "Who's doing the wheel change?" The Superbike and Senior race are run over 6 laps (226 miles), and a rear tyre will only last a maximum of 4, so the plan was to change it on the second stop.  The swinging arm has been modified to assist in this but still requires a steady hand and it has to be done in less than 45 secs (the time it takes to fuel the tank). So the rattle gun was charged and the team started to practice, this drew quite the crowd. It turned out to be a close call between Roley and Wurz, but as Roley is an expert fuel man Wurz got the job. 

Superbike race day and we are all confused by the sight of a giant yellow ball in the sky, welcome back sun we have missed you. On race day the bikes have to go through scrutineering by 9am then sit in Parc Ferme until race start. 45 mins before the start the teams are allowed into Parc Ferme and also pit lane to fill the fuel hoppers and set up the pits. 15mins before the start the bikes are moved up onto the road, our last chance to brim the tank, check all the switches are in the correct mode and admire the monster energy promotion girls (tough job this).

AJ dons his helmet and takes the bike, he pushes the bike past a barrage of photographers to the start line, 10 seconds to go, visor down, 1st gear, a tap on the shoulder and he drops the clutch and launches the Fireblade off the line, in some style may I add. Then as the last bike leaves there is a short lull as the grid is cleared in preparation for the front runners coming through. AJ comes through 19mins 15 secs later (117.5mph average) again an improvement over practice.  He looked smooth and the bike looked great (but then we are slightly biased). Lap two and it's his first pit stop; as he enters lane he hits the 60kmh pit limiter and is waved in.  First of all it’s fuel cap off, fuel in, visor change, clean screen, give him a drink and on this occasion adjust the steering damper.  Then it’s fuel cap on and away he goes, 45secs later, which is pretty respectable. Out on track AJ’s times are constantly improving and are creeping ever closer to the magical 120mph mark. End of lap 4 and it’s pit stop time again, same format as the last one with the addition of a rear wheel change.  Again all goes well and he is soon heading along pit lane and out racing again. Two laps later he crosses the line in a total race time of 1h 57mins with a race average speed of 115.4 mph finishing in 48th place, job done.

No rest for the team though as the bike needs putting into Superstock spec, this involves removing the quick release swinging arm and brakes, and replacing them with stock items. 

Monday comes and first race is Supersport 1.  There has been a good bit of healthy banter about speeds on this bike as it's the same one Wurz rode last year, and as yet AJ hasn't gone as fast on it; we know it's only a matter of time though. But today wasn't to be the day, AJ rode another faultless race finishing in a time of 1hr 20 min with a average speed of 113 mph.

The Superstock race was delayed until Tuesday due to the weather, but it was clear AJ liked racing on Tuesdays as he instantly put in a quicker lap, In fact each lap again he got faster and finished in a time of 1hr 17min 44secs with a average speed of 116.5mph, that's a race average higher than his best lap last year! This won him his very first TT replica.

Next up is Supersport 2, and guess who woke up fast today? Yep no messing he goes out first lap and beats Wurz's best; we manage to tell Roley in the pits so he could let him know. I swear you could see the smile through his helmet, anyway he went on and improved his lap time again, 116.7mph on a 600cc bike! Replica number two, thank you. 

Friday and it's the lightweight race first, and then followed by the Senior in the afternoon. The lightweight class (so called because they are about the heaviest bikes out there) is still in its teething stages of the TT and as such can often provide some different results. AJ had only done two laps on the bike in practice but you could tell he was looking forward to racing the what is effectively a machine designed to commute on and nip to the shops and back! We opted for a first lap pit stop as it's only a three lap race so giving him a flying last lap. The pit stop was so fast as only 8ltrs of fuel was required, he was gone in a flash. He was obviously getting used to the little twin as he stated moving up the leader board and even made it into the top 20 finishing a fantastic 19th, which means yet another replica.

So on to the final event of the 2014 TT, the Senior.  Six laps of the toughest but best circuit in the world and that's us done. AJ opted to run treaded tyres as he liked the feel of the bike better, this still meant a wheel change on the 2nd pit stop. Again AJ was improving - his first lap was 119mph so would the 120 happen?? Lap two was 119.4mph, closer still. Lap 3 included the pit stop so bit slower but lap 4 was 119.92mph, how close? The 2nd pit stop and wheel change went well, 42seconds (4 seconds faster than a certain factory Honda team). So lap 6 the last lap of 2014 could he get his goal?? Unfortunately, no he got held up and waved yellow flags had slowed him, still 119.87mph in traffic! AJ came into Parc Ferme buzzing and rightly so, but the first thing he did was point at his elbow, his leathers were marked, turned out he had been doing a Marquez round the Cregg-ny-Baa corner, scraping his elbow!!!

Some finish to a fantastic fortnight, six race starts, six finishes answers the question is all the machine preparation worth it. But without doubt the star of the show was our new rider, every session he went out in he went faster, his technical feedback was so detailed it made the team’s life so much easier.  Indeed, his focus on the job in hand was almost scary. The excellent results, machine reliability, Team performance and not to mention the banter between us all made this a year to remember. I'm sure in years to come AJ Venter will be counting down the seconds to a 130 mph lap, will it be with us.........I sure hope so. 

We would just like to say a massive thanks to everyone that made this possible.  

Huge growth in worldwide TT audience in 2013

Audience figures released on the 2013 Isle of Man TT races are showing a significant increase on last year's statistics with television, radio, print media coverage and the on-line audience all experiencing double digit growth year on year.

ITV4 has reported that the North One TV shows are nearly 20% up overall on last year's viewers with well over six million people watching this year's programmes, an increase of almost a million on the 2012 audience.

The most watched show was Monday’s Monster Energy Supersport 1 show with an average of 684,000 and a peak of 725,000 – about three times the slot average and benchmark audience share.

This year also saw next day highlights programmes screened in the USA via Discovery Velocity and with further international markets also reporting increased viewing figures, the worldwide TV audience is also expected to increase significantly by year end.

Neil Duncanson, Chief Executive, North One TV commented:

"The TT Races is now one of ITV's key sports properties and their executives are really pleased with this year's audience figures. Although it is still early days, our international partners are also reporting growth which bodes well for future distribution."

The official iomtt.com website, run by Duke Marketing, is reporting growth across a number of key international territories with a significant increase in the number of users tracking the event through live timing as well as an overall year on year increase in the number of unique users.

Over the two weeks of practice and racing over 1,000,000 unique users visited the official Isle of Man TT website  www.iomtt.com creating 7.6 million page views. This compares positively with same period in 2012, which saw just under 800,000 users. The website’s live timing service, TT Live was accessed by around 200,000 fans across the world.

Social media proved very popular with the total number of people following the official Isle of Man TT facebook page growing to over 140,000 during the race period and twitter users up to nearly 40,000. Approximately 750,000 people saw messages posted to the official facebook page – a near doubling on TT 2012’s figures while the new new online TT shop (shop.iomtt.com) also saw notable growth.

Across the various online platforms a strong trend towards the growth of a global fanbase continued. Britain and America continue to be the largest sources for online fans but countries such as Brazil, India, Japan, Poland and Italy are contributing an ever-increasing number of a fans.

The new Isle of Man TT Races App, created by Agency Mobile, was downloaded 73,000 times across the race fortnight and was the most downloaded sports app on iTunes during the event and the second highest grossing sports app. There were a total of 1.4 million active 'sessions' with 13,000 active daily users.

As well as providing live timing, the app also offered access to the Manx Radio TT commentary, further boosting the number of people listening to the live race commentary. This year there were 1.86 million successful connections to the various digital services provided by Manx Radio via iomtt.com and the TT Races App. These listeners are in addition to the audience who listened live via the dedicated 1368AM service and FM broadcasts available on the Island.

Mannin Media, producers of the TT races official programme reported that the programme sales, through on-line and retail outlets, were up a total of 9.5% year-on-year, the highest circulation since the Centenary TT races in 2007. This year also saw the introduction of Mannin's ‘digital TT review magazine which is now available for I-pad, android and Kindle tablets.

Laurence Skelly, Political Member, Isle of Man Tourism, commented:

"The TT Races now provides a real profile and platform for the Isle of Man worldwide as well as generating visitors to the Isle of Man. We are able to use the different media channels that we have to promote our Island's culture and heritage as well as building a worldwide fanbase for the TT Races and generate incremental commercial revenue."

Article courtesy of : www.iomtt.com