Belfast Telegraph

Watch: How to piece together the demanding Isle of Man TT puzzle

11-time winner Philip McCallen is your guide for a lap around the toughest test in road racing - the Isle of Man TT

There is nowhere you can sit back and relax, it is full on for the 17 minutes or so that it takes to complete one lap, multiplied by six for the duration of the TT Superbike or Senior TT

My first laps of the circuit were at the Manx Grand Prix and I could not believe it. It was like a motorway compared to our national road races like Cookstown, Skerries, Mid Antrim and so on.

Once I'd got to grips with the circuit, I knew what to do.

The first part down Bray Hill you have to hold it flat out, so as not to knock any speed off on the run to Quarter Bridge, where you have to be careful on the first lap with a full tank of fuel and maybe the tyres not up to the right temperature.

The next important corner is the left out of Union Mills where you need the best drive possible because that determines your speed to Greeba Castle. You gain a few seconds if you get it right.

My next marker on a fast lap is from Ballacraine right to Glen Helen.

It's important to know where you are going through this section and also keep on the pipe through the fast-flowing bends and small jumps through Laurel Bank and Black Dub to the left.

At the next section, Sarah's Cottage, it is very important to get the best speed possible along Cronk-y-Voddy straight through to the 11th Milestone.

Again, it is all driving right to Kirkmichael, taking care through the double apex of the 13th Milestone where it is a bit bumpy.

In the days of early morning practice, Kirkmichael was weird; in the still morning air the sound of the bike bounced off the walls as you reached 150-170mph down the main street.

Next is Rhencullen 2 where the really quick men just let it drift out to the wall of the house over the jump and then go flat on the gas, fifth and sixth gears through Appledene and Bishopscourt, watching for the kerb that sticks out and on to the first-gear Ballaugh Bridge where it's important not to jump too high and bust the suspension landing.

Once over the bridge, keep her lit to Quarry Bends - where I crashed one year going too quickly - but it is essential to get through these bends and onto Sulby Straight.

You can't make up a lot of time on hairpin bends and slow corners, but you can do so if you keep the momentum going onto the straights and through the fast-flowing bends.

From Ginger Hall to Ramsey is highly technical. It's so bumpy and very fast, you are rolling on and off the throttle.

Ramsey itself is slow and then it gets extremely bumpy through May Hill and the climb up the mountain starts. You need the drive out of the Gooseneck, up and over the mountain right to Brandywel, with momentum.

You are lining up 180mph corners you would not notice at normal everyday speeds. Remember, every time you are off the throttle you are losing speed.

Next it's over the tram lines at the Bungalow while squeezing the throttle right to the Brandywell. From here it's all downhill - and a different style of ride as its all on the brakes now.

After the 32nd triple apex it is Windy Corner, and you have to be careful of the breeze coming up a valley. Through the 33rd, Keeple Gate and flat down to Creg-ny-baa.

Again, carry your speed through Brandish, totally different from when I raced, through Hillberry to Signpost.

In the last section, Governor's Dip is a place to watch as it is only used for TT and Manx and the surface can be slippery. Out onto Glencutchery Road and through the gears to head off towards Bray Hill, not forgetting to pit for fuel, like I did one year, and away you go again.

Simple!

1) On a starting lap there's no problem here, just getting settled in for the top of Bray Hill but on a flying lap it's a bit different, very bumpy and fifth gear, quite frightening.

2) On the pipe now, sixth gear for the crossroads at St Ninian's. Give a little tug on the handlebars just to calm the front end down for the drop down Bray Hill.

3) So, so fast! It feels like you are going off the end of the world.

You have to watch out for bumps on the left-hand side of the road where Lancaster, Hildesley and Malvern Road join.

Watch out for the kerb at the bottom.

4) Bottom gear this one, hard on the brakes from sixth gear.

Very slippy, bumpy and a polished road surface, easy to tuck the front on the way in and highside on the exit.

Lots of white lines also.

Belfast Telegraph

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