As a veteran of the TT having raced here five times already team rider Steve Mercer has the necessary experience. He knows every inch of the Snaefell mountain course and this year he’s set to put that racing knowledge to use for Team Traction Control as he pilots the GSXR Suzuki’s in the Supersport, Superbike and Superstock races.
The enormity of the challenge and excitement isn’t lost on TTC’s owner, the Prodigy’s Keith Flint: “I grew up watching the TT and endurance racing,” he reveals. “I think this is one of the toughest challenges out there for the rider and the machinery. It’s one of the greatest races in the world. The history and the heritage of this event is unsurpassed so it feels amazing to be here and be part of it.”
Over the next week the Team Traction Control crew will hone their Suzukis in qualifying sessions around the mountain course – a 37 mile piece of motorcycling history that is incredibly difficult to master and even harder to win on with riders cornering at top speed just inches from walls, kerb stones and lampposts in the town sections, whilst riding flowing and undulating open road on the mountain itself. The level of concentration, bravery and pure speed around this course is phenomenal, with the current average speed record exceeding an unbelievable 130 mph.
So what does a first year of racing at the TT mean to Team Traction Control? The Monster Energy supported team has put a great package around an experienced racer who knows this course. However management of expectation and pressure isn’t what Keith is focused on. Instead it’s a respectful and measured answer from the Prodigy front-man, who as an experienced racer himself and a true racing fan who knows just how hard the TT is going to be.
“Yeah we are buzzing for it because this is some of the most exciting riding you will ever see and I really hope Steve can achieve some personal bests. That would feel like the team has done good by him,” says Keith. “Our crew gel well as a team, but it is the first year for TTC. We want to go away from here knowing we have done it right. For me personally, I’d be really happy going away from the TT knowing Steve has beaten his personal lap record. That would be a good and successful TT for us.”
After a week of practice and qualifying the team will have four days of incredible racing with the Superbike race on Saturday the 31st May – a six lap time trial on the 1000cc highly modified race machines. A day’s rest on Sunday then means a manic Monday with Steve jumping aboard the 600cc GSXR Suzuki for race one of the Supersports. The same afternoon it’s time to get his head back around the power of the 1000cc again as he swings his leg over the Superstock GSXR for a four lap TT on the lightly modified stock bike. Steve will then finish his TT week back on the Supersport for race two on Wednesday 4th June.
Certainly it’s shaping up to be a week to remember and another important stepping stone of this young team. “It’s the first year [of TTC]. We want everything to run to plan and enjoy some good and safe laps. To have brought a team to something that is so free and about the riders and this incredible circuit,” explains Keith. “It’s just great for this team to be taking part in such an iconic event.”