Motor sport: Pair revved up for Isle of Man TT

By Peter White

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TEAM WORK: Colin Buckley (left) and Robbie Shorter in action at last year's Isle of Man TT. PHOTOS/FILE
TEAM WORK: Colin Buckley (left) and Robbie Shorter in action at last year's Isle of Man TT. PHOTOS/FILE

Sitting in a sidecar going 170km/h directly towards a stone wall would terrify even the most hardened competitors.

But for Robbie Shorter it is what he loves doing the most.

The 41-year-old from Tauranga leaves next week for his second crack at the infamous Isle of Man TT (Tourist Trophy) street circuit with Auckland rider Colin Buckley.

The Snaefell Mountain course is definitely no place for the faint-hearted.

There have been 248 competitors, including seven New Zealanders, killed in races from Victor Surridge in 1911 to Franck Petricola at last year's event. But Shorter, who grew up in Merivale and attended Tauranga Intermediate and Tauranga Boys' College, does not waste any time mulling over the grim statistics.

"Any form of motor racing sport is dangerous whether you are on the track or circuit racing or road racing," Shorter said.

"The TT has that persona, that reputation, and sometimes people just remember the TT for being the most dangerous course and it kills people.

"It is probably the only motor sport event where you go and look at your mates lining up before the race and you don't want to beat them, you just want to see them after the race.

"But I don't give it too much head space. Every time you've got the helmet on and you are going round there you can see these walls coming at you but for me it is no different to Paeroa or Wanganui here. Those are dangerous little circuits.

"The difference with them is you are actually racing people on the road where at the TT you are racing the clock. TT is one of the most beautiful courses in the world.

"Colin and I know the risks and we are confident in our ability and our preparation that we will be fine."

Last year Shorter and Buckley confounded the pre-race predictions by finishing 11th on their K7 Suzuki powered BLR chassis bike. The pair also set the fastest time by a Kiwi pair around the course of 108.7m/h (174.93km/h).

That performance has meant Shorter and Buckley have jumped 20 places from last year and will start pre-race qualifying in 21st place. Shorter says last year was probably above their expectations.

"Being the first one (together) we went there with an open mind really and to finish 11th was fantastic. Colin has been there three times before so for me being a newcomer it was great that he could give me insights into what was going to happen and it made it a hell of a lot easier for me.

"I know what my job is on the bike so basically all I had to do was my job. The rest of it was helped by the backing of Carl Cox Motor Sport which gave us a little more money to spend and we had some fairly good equipment. That obviously played a huge part in the result we got."

Breaking the New Zealand team speed record was not a total surprise to Shorter.

"We had been around 104 and 105 (m/h) in practice but had been really limited to just three laps because of the weather and crashes. We knew there was more in it as it seemed every time we went out and did a lap we got faster and faster.

"Cracking that 108.7 sets you up a bit more now. You just want a go a bit faster. Maybe with a bit more track time hopefully we can up that a bit this year.

"We have a little bit more horse power and more aerodynamics so hopefully we can punch a bit higher. Like everyone else we are going there to win it but realistically to be on the podium you have to be around 115-116 mile per hour. If we can crack into the top 10 then we will definitely come away achieving what we want to achieve."

-Isle of Man TT May 28-June 10.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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