Isle of Man TT – Practice Night at Braddan Bridge

After a short night a Quarterbridge and canceled practice on Thursday due to more heavy rain, Friday night practice was back on track.

Gary Thompson the Clerk of Course, had said that although 2016 had been an exceptionally great year for weather, riders had in aggregate 1,500 laps fewer this year than in 2016.   As such the Superbike race scheduled for Saturday would be held on Sunday and a Saturday would be used as a practice day for all classes.

Still traveling on foot, I walked down to Braddan Bridge. I had seen a few photos from there and I had heard the evening light would be good.

I got an earlier start so I would have time to look around, walked by Quarterbridge and then down a straight of almost a half-mile, where they came through with a quick left and then a right.

Whenever I arrive at a location I check in with the race marshals to ask where I can and cannot shoot. Apparently over the years people have argued with Race Marshals about road closure, course access or whatever happened to come up that was an inconvenience. To deal with that, in 2016 the Isle of Man established a law that made all trained race marshals the equivalent to a Police Deputy. They were great people with decades of experience and liked to help.

The weather and the position did not disappoint. Although practice times were sparse this week, Ian Hutchinson made an effort to be first in line to get out on the course. He was first out again and first through the turn at Braddan Bridge.

Ian ‘Hutchy” Hutchinson is a 14 time winner of the TT.

The practice sessions are not only used to regain a crazy high speed familiarity of the course, but to test the equipment under near race conditions.

The riders line through the turn and body position vary greatly, each one trying to find their fastest way through the turn and back out.

James Hillier leans into the first turn on Braddan Bridge on his Superbike Kawasaki

Riders will often do a lap, pull off into the pits, get a different bike and head out again.  Adjustments, if necessary, being made all along the way.

Hillier pulls of the road, checks a few things and then screams back onto the course.

On his next lap Hillier had change from his Superbike to his Superstock Kawasaki (note the change in color of the number plate).

In addition to the blinding speeds of the rider, one of the amazing things about the TT is how close the spectators can get to the action.  Even though the viewing areas are carefully planned to be as safe as possible, here fans which TT favorite Michael Dunlop go by right in front of them.

Michael Dunlop on his Suzuki Superbike

Both fans and photographers can get close. I was tucked in by a gate to the church as the riders accelerated away from Braddan. I had set the focus to a point that I hoped they would come by and started shooting at when I saw them about a block away.  Even shooting at 14 frames / second, at 140 mph the would go 15 feet between shots. I at lots of shots of nothing but landscape.

Michael Rutter on his Paton Lightweight

After the solo riders had completed their sessions, the sidecars were back out for practice and heading into the evening light.

Sidecars were out for a single practice lap. 

It is now mid-morning on Monday June 5, and we are on a 2-hour weather delay, waiting to see if there will be racing today.


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