Wednesday was a lovely sunny day - until about two hours before practice was supposed to start. The clouds started to roll in exactly as we'd been told by the organisers and, again, they got it spot on. Riding to Ramsey at full speed and then slowing down over the Mountain was a bit unique but it was a good decision and the track time we got was very valuable indeed.
I went out first on the Bathams/SMT Racing Superbike but we'd taken the race engine out, to keep the mileage down, and fitted a standard road bike engine instead. It wasn't as strong as I thought though and we were considerably down on speed although the handling was spot on. Mind you, bikes do handle well when you're not going that fast so the 6.2 race engine will be back in for the next session.
I caught Steve Mercer up at Kirk Michael and conditions were good up until just after Ramsey. There were a few spots of rain at the Gooseneck and the yellow flags were out all over the Mountain and although it wasn't wet, you couldn't be sure if it was wet or dry so I backed it right off. In light of that, a 124mph lap wasn't too bad.
After a short delay, I was back out on the Superstock bike and, just like the previous night, I was really happy with it. It's handling really well and although we've got a few little issues with things like the rev lights coming on and when changing down from third to second gear, it's otherwise not far away at all.
It was clear the weather was closing in though and on the second lap, the contingency plan that had been spoken about beforehand came into play. From Schoolhouse Corner onwards the yellow flags were out and we all pulled up to a stop at Parliament Square before having a scary trip back over the Mountain under controlled speed. The visibility was really poor but, like I say, it was good to get out even if it was only for one and a half laps.
Due to the lack of track time, there's hardly any rubber down on the course and that's going to affect speeds all the way round. There's no grip through Quarry Bends, for example, and that means we're not getting on to the Sulby Straight as quick and, subsequently, not as quick through the speed trap.
It was an early finish so the team went out for dinner and then the work all started again on Thursday. We've lost another session so Friday onwards will be very busy but it's the same for everyone.