|I am delighted to have been asked to write a column for The TT Website. I'll fill you in on what's been happening with me lately, and over the next couple of months, I'll let you know my plans for 2002.
This last month has been a mixed one for me. It's been great to get some more racing under my belt, and the results have been the best I could have hoped for; maybe better, but I was unfortunately involved in the accident that fatally injured Flag Marshall Gerry Allaway at the Ulster Grand Prix.
It is volunteers like Gerry who make it possible for people like myself to ride at places like the Ulster Grand Prix and I recognise how important they are. My sincerest sympathies go out to Gerry's family in this sad time.
The Ulster wasn't the first place I had ridden in August because I had ridden in Germany a few weeks before but more of that later.
I was really looking forward to the Ulster, as I would get to ride the Temple Auto Salvage GSXR 1000's and the tuned 600 for the first time. I was optimistic of getting some good results, and in practice everything seemed to be clicking together, although, as usual there was a few hitches.
The 600 wasn't handling well, although we sorted it for the race, and the gearing was out a bit. Perhaps I should have pulled in during the session to make adjustments, but I didn't and ended up in fifth spot.
On the big bike, everything just clicked together. The session was stopped half way through, due to an accident, but it got going again, with everyone playing a game of cat and mouse. I dropped right back on the rest of the front group when we headed off for the second time so as to give myself a clear run. I could see David Jefferies on the straight bits and I was using that as a gauge of how I was going, whilst trying hard to just concentrate on my own riding.
I was delighted to find out that I had qualified on pole, and that gave me the confidence to feel like I could win on the bike the nest day.
I ended up second in the Proddie class to Duffus, which wasn't a class I was looking forward to, because I haven't got that much experience on them. But the Suzuki is so nimble, I felt right at home on it.
The 125 was going well as it always does. and I qualified fastest, with Robert, unsurprisingly, second. Again, I felt that I could win the race, and I knew who was going to be the man to beat.
So all in all, I went away really happy and couldn't wait to get cracking on Saturday.
My first race was the Superbike race, which was superb. I got a good start, a perfect start really, and then they stopped the race, and I was thinking Damn, because I would have to do it all again.
But I did and led for a lap before DJ came past. I was watching him and he was riding well but he was using more of the road than me, and I felt that I had a bit more on the day. I just tagged along with him, because the bikes were much of a much ness for speed. At Wheelers on the last lap I got round the outside off him, and he wasn't really expecting it, and I just managed to put enough distance between us and held on.
I have to say that it was one of the best races of my career, especially to beat DJ, because only Joey has beaten him round Dundrod on a Superbike. If he wasn't there or he has broken down, it would have taken the shine of it a bit, so I'm chuffed the way it turned out.
I'm looking forward to the TT next year and riding the bike there. I'm confident I can win on it and I believe it to be a better bike than the Yamaha, so we'll have to wait and see!
The next race was the 125, which I was beaten to the line in by Robert. We had a great battle as we have had so many times before. Coming out of the chicane on the last lap, I pulled along side him, and I felt that I would have passed him before the line, but I missed a gear, and he got it.
It was nice to see him win though, and he rode really well as always. He was delighted to win and did a slowing down lap, which has to be a first at Dundrod!
It was weird jumping off the Superbike to the 125 and then on to the Proddie but that is what I had to do.
I thought Duffus was going to be the man here, but again I got a good start, and I pulled a nice gap. At about the half way stage he had appeared to catch me a bit, and I was starting to get worried. I thought about letting him catch me and doing the same as in the Superbike Race.
But I decided to push on, and I went on and set the fastest lap of the race which broke him a bit and I pulled a bit more out, and took a nice win, which I was a bit surprised about really. I've never been that big a fan of Production racing, but I enjoyed the race and was delighted with the win as were the team.
The 600 Race was great up until the accident. I didn't get a great start, but I did a bit of slipstreaming on the way down to Leathemstown and I had got up to third.
I soon got to the front, and wanted to make a break, because I hadn't seen Archibald by then and I knew he would be the danger man. On the approach to Cochranstown he flew past me, and then from there on, that was my weak spot compared to him and DJ.
Through Dears Leap him and Archibald were gaining a bikes length each time, by just being bigger than me basically. They could manhandle the bikes over the jumps better than I could.
It was getting a bit close, but I wouldn't say it was out of hand and I trusted the other guys not to do anything silly but I still wanted to try and make a break, which I couldn't do. So by the last lap we were still together but I passed DJ, and then I got Archibald going into the hairpin when he ran a bit wide.
Then as we came down the last couple of corners, I was trying to make myself as wide as possible, but Archibald came past me, so I got on the gas as early as I could and was real close to him going into the chicane, because I thought I would get him by slipstreaming him to the line.
But as I came in, I clipped it before almost correcting myself. Unfortunately, I still couldn't avoid the last part of the temporary kerb, and when I hit it, the forks bottomed out, and I went out over the front of the bike and we know what happened then. I was all right, bar a few bruises and a soar neck.
I didn't know that anyone had been hit. It wasn't until afterwards someone told me and I was gutted obviously.
Before the Ulster I raced at my favourite circuit, which is called Schleiz in Germany. It is like a Road Race but it is mega safe.
I qualified third in the first timed session on the 125 which I was delighted with because some of the kit there is unreal. There is a guy there who finished second riding a full factory 125. There are riders there who will be in the top ten in the World Championships next year.
I dropped to eighth in the last session, but was still happy enough to be on the second row of the grid.
In the race I finished sixth, just being pipped on the line. I was lapping within half a second of the race winner, so I was delighted really with the result in what I would call really top class opposition.
I also had my standard 600 over with me, and I qualified tenth out of sixty-seven entries. In the race I finished seventh, which again I was delighted with. The race was won by a guy called Michael Schulten who is an ex European Championship rider riding a fully tuned Yamaha and has scored points in the World Supersport Championship this year.
It is such a safe circuit, you find that a lot of riders who would never dream of riding a Road Race will actually race there.
My girlfriend Jo, and I had a nice break travelling to the track and back through Europe, stopping in Luxembourg and Paris amongst other places. It was great, just pulling up and getting the bar B Q out on the side of the van. I actually melted the plastic step on the van one night with it!
The season is still going strong for me, and I've got quite an action packed couple of weeks coming up. I'm riding at The Killalane Road Races this weekend, which is my first time there then I have another meeting at Scarborough, I should be at the Sunflower meeting, and I'm hoping to go back to Germany for another meeting at a place called Froburg.
I haven't ruled out a one off ride on the 125 in the British Championship or something like that either, so there's still plenty to keep me busy.
I'll keep you all up to date with how I get on and anything else that happens.