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Voted as the best road race in the world, there’s something spectacular about the Isle of Man TT including every twist, turn and straight. Read our course guide now…
No sooner has a TT race started then riders are faced with the terrifying plunge down Bray Hill. After leaping over St Ninian’s Crossroads, riders drop down the incredibly steep hill at 150mph, hit the dip at the bottom and then fly over Ago’s Leap on the other side – welcome to the TT!
Once Quarter Bridge, Braddan Bridge and Union Mills have been taken, riders barely drop below 140mph with speeds through Crosby village approaching 190mph. One of the most daunting corners is the right-hander of Ballagarey more commonly known amongst the racing fraternity as Ballascarey!
After passing through Crosby, riders drop down past the Highlander, another near 200mph section, and then drop back down to third gear for the Greeba Castle ‘S’ bend another corner that has caught out many.
Through Appledene, Greeba Bridge and past the Hawthorne pub, speeds are soon back up to 180mph and the huge sweep round Gorse Lea is not for the faint hearted. After all this near flat out racing, it’s hard on the brakes for the sharp right of Ballacraine where the course takes a dramatic change.
The only section of the course to remain from the very first races of 1907, this is an area where experience pays dividends and with no margin for error, riders need to be ultra-precise.
Passing through Ballig Bridge (flattened in 1935) and Doran’s Bends (named after works AJS rider Bill Doran crashed and broke a leg during practice for the 1952 meeting) riders then approach Laurel Bank and this whole section is lined with trees, high banks and low walls. From the relative open spaces of the first 7 miles, the geography of the course couldn’t be more different and riders are constantly changing direction with concentration, fluency and smoothness the key.
Moving through the infamous Black Dub, the two left-handers into Glen Helen follow and once the steep Creg Willy’s Hill is negotiated, the course opens up once more on to the Cronk y Voddy straight.
However, it’s not long before the riders are faced with more demanding corners with the likes of the 11th Milestone, Handley’s Corner (named after 4-times TT-winner Wal Handley), the top and bottom of Barregarrow and the 13th Milestone all presenting major challenges.
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The Kirk Michael to Sulby Bridge section is without doubt one of the quickest on the course with speeds well in excess of 180mph through Bishopscourt and along the Sulby Straight. The village of Kirk Michael gives both riders and spectators a terrific sensation of speed with the sound of the bikes echoing off the walls of the houses and the narrow road seeing the riders hit 160mph as they buck and weave their way through the village.
Upon leaving Kirk Michael, riders negotiate the high-speed kinks of Bishopscourt and Alpine before slowing down to approximately 45mph for one of the circuit’s most famous landmarks – Ballaugh Bridge – where they leap through the air. Back on the gas as quickly as possible, more air is taken at Ballacrye before going through the right-left-right-left-right combination of Quarry Bends. This used to be a bumpy series of second and third gear corners but was re-modelled in 1987 and is now super-fast and smooth. Getting through this section is crucial in order to carry the speed along the high-speed Sulby Straight, which again has been resurfaced over the years.
After the right-hander of Sulby Bridge, the riders are then faced with arguably the bumpiest and most physical section as they head towards Ramsey. Although only four miles in length the bumps are endless and for most it’s simply a case of gritting their teeth and hanging on, a section where the smaller and lighter riders definitely suffer. Riders pass the Ginger Hall Hotel, which dates back to at least the mid-1800’s and sweep through the ups and downs of places like Kerromoar, Glentramman and Milntown before arriving into the town of Ramsey.
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After all the bumps and trees of the previous section, the Mountain Course encounters yet another geographical change as riders head towards the vast open spaces of the Mountain itself. For some, this is the easiest section to learn as the views into the corners are clear and un-obstructed but for others it’s the opposite as the layout means that many of the corners appear to look the same.
Once through Dukes, the re-modelled Windy Corner and Keppel Gate, the riders start the rapid descent back into Douglas via the three flat out sections that link Kate’s Cottage, Creg-Ny-Baa, Brandish and Hillberry.
Only the tight section through the Governors Dip now lies between the riders and the finish line. The notorious Dip is a place where you can easily throw it all away but gain little.
Once clear, it’s back on the gas for lap two!
There you have it, the full course guide to the IOM TT! Now let’s see what riders have left a legacy at the TT with our Hall of Fame…
Words by Phil Wain.