BSB hero Steve Plater faces his first ever TT this June, so he's turning to the experts for some priceless inside circuit knowledge. Jon Bentman went along for the ride
Richard 'Milky' Quayle misses racing the Mountain Course. It's evident from the moment you start speaking with the former TT winner and inadvertent star of the film TT: a documentary (which featured his career-ending crash at Ballaspur, caught on amateur video). As the TT's rider recruitment officer it's his job to find new riders and to safely induct them to the course. We joined him as he drove TT newcomer Steve Plater round for a lap on a wet February morning, explaining the late apexes, the early apexes, the troublesome bumps and the utterly terrifying flat out sections. His enthusiasm for the job was bubbling over. Yes, Milky misses racing the TT. Badly.
With four of us (including TT snapper Dave Collister) rammed into a borrowed 10-year-old Nissan Pulsar, we made what was close on a two-hour lap. That's an average speed of something like 18mph and the slowest
I've ever done, but probably the most eye-opening too. What comes across very clearly is the level of detail in Milky's knowledge. Down to every last bump, hollow, manhole cover and telegraph pole. Milky knows this long complex course better than you know your own driveway. And having compared notes with those who have travelled the course in the company of the likes of John McGuiness and Steve Hislop, it's clear that it's this absolute level of preparation and understanding that helps them to win.
"People often ask me if I was crazy to race the TT," says Milky, "but the truth is the TT is the most rational, most exacting mental exercise I have ever done. It's like the most incredible form of consciousness."
Collister, himself a former Manx GP competitor, quietly adds, "If you think it's exciting to watch, well, it's 10 times better than that to race."
Steve Plater isn't here to revel in the excitement that is riding the course, though. He's here to learn it. He has to commit this 37.73-mile course to memory in as much detail as he possibly can before the last week in May when he'll be racing the TT for the first time, for real. He has a problem though.
"Me, I can't take in lots of things at once. I can learn the one thing and then the next thing that comes after that. But I can't deal with lots of issues all at once. Right now I've got the general gist of where the course goes - I've done quite a few laps now - but I know I have to be perfect on every corner to be fast. What I'll have to do is break the circuit down, probably into four sections or more. Work on those, one a day, then add them all together at the end."
Continue the expert guide of the Isle of Man TT course
Become a fan of Visordown
Follow us on twitter
Other Immediate Media Sites
Our eCommerce Platform
© Immediate Media Company Ltd 2012. This website is owned and published by Immediate Media Company Limited. www.immediatemedia.co.uk