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Planned TT Changes 18 December 2003

1.
INTRODUCTION
1.1
During TT 2003, the Minister for Tourism and Leisure, the Hon. David Cretney, MHK, issued a widespread invitation to everyone involved with and interested in the TT Races and Festival to forward their views and suggestions.
1.2
Since June there has been a tremendous response from both the Island and much wider and the Department has received many letters as well as a large volume of e-mails, web chat room comments and telephone calls.
1.3
Perhaps the most pleasing aspect of the response was not only its scale, but the extent to which almost everyone was positive about the future of the TT regardless of how they saw that future.
1.4
In considering the responses, the Department and its partners have looked very carefully at every suggestion. Clearly we cannot adopt every suggestion and, indeed, in many cases views are likely to be in conflict with each other. We have, however, thoroughly examined all of the input and formed a balanced view.
1.5
The Minister, together with other department and partner representatives, has also spent considerable time discussing future options with a number of Riders, also through the TT Riders Forum and with the manufacturers. We have also held a series of consultative discussions with groups of people who gave expansive views on the future. We are very grateful for their input.
1.6
Equally, we do have to recognise that however substantial the response, those who have done so represent a minority of those who make the event possible. There is a family of over 50,000 people whose active participation, whether as riders, sponsors, mechanics, team members, officials, marshals or spectators is essential to the TT. Add to that a Manx population of over 75,000, the vast majority of whom love the TT and Manx Grand Prix and others whose passive tolerance of the disruption to their normal daily lives is pre-requisite.
1.7
The Report summarises the actions which we are taking or proposing as a result of the 2003 exercise.
2.
RACE ORGANISATION
2.1
There was much discussion in the various submissions about the organisational structure of the Races and the impact which the various partners had upon the overall outcome of TT 2003.
2.2
There has been a long term strategy to focus the organisation of the event on the Island.
2.3
The Department and the ACU have been in discussion and have agreed in principle a twenty year licence under which effective control of the races willbe totally vested in the Department. The legal documentation to give force to this agreement is anticipated by both parties to be concluded soon.
2.4
Whilst the Department would remain central to the whole organisation of the event, responsibility for the actual racing on the TT Course would be delegated to the Manx Motor Cycle Club who are, of course, the organisers of the highly successful Manx Grand Prix.
2.5
Future organisation of the TT Races will, therefore, be very much a partnership between the Department and the Manx Motor Cycle Club, within the licensing arrangement negotiated with the ACU as the FIM recognised Governing Body of British Motorcycle Sport.
2.6
The Department firmly believes that these new arrangements will provide a solid platform to develop the TT Races towards the Centenary in 2007, the Centenary of the Mountain Course in 2011 and beyond to the 100th staging of the TT; all within the 20 year contract period.
2.7
The signing of a 20 year contract will also remove all doubt about the commitment of the Isle of Man Government to the future of the event.
3.
RACE PROGRAMME
3.1
During the consultation exercise we have received a wide range of views about the future shape of the race programme.
3.2
Whilst there have been much publicised suggestions from the manufacturers that we should be focussing on:
  • Less races/classes
  • Less time in the island
  • Less quantity more quality
these have to be balanced against views from the Riders Forum that, in broad terms, the concept developed over the last decade is about right.
3.3
We have noted strong views especially from within the island about expanding racing classes at the expense of production based classes. Whilst we would like to be in a position to achieve this, the classes for the TT have to be demand led by those who supply and ride the machines. Although some feel it is regrettable the demand has been for production based classes and support for pure racing machines has dwindled, it is a matter of fact and we deal in facts.
3.4
Some views were expressed about the merits or otherwise of sidecar racing at the TT Races. Having given careful consideration thereto the Department has reaffirmed that sidecars are not only part of the history of the event, they are a key element in its future.
3.5
Views were also expressed about the inclusion of classic racing on the TT Course during the TT Races. We believe, however, that classic racing on the Mountain Course is properly focussed on the Manx Grand Prix meeting and that classic machines as part of the TT Races should be based on parades and demonstrations as well as racing on other circuits.
3.6
The Department announced during TT 2003 a race programme for 2004. This programme had been agreed after extensive consultation with both manufacturers and riders and during the current exercise it has become clear that many people have already made decisions based on that announcement. In those circumstances it would, in our view, be unfair to introduce major changes for 2004 and, indeed, to do so might well undermine long term confidence.
3.7
One area of concern in examining race safety has been the tendency for accidents towards the end of long races. The Manx Grand Prix has already abandoned six lap races for this reason and whilst with the more professional (and hopefully fitter) riders at the TT this should be less of a problem, it does, nonetheless, represent a concern. Whilst recognising some supporters relish the six lap format, we have decided that in todays environment four laps represent ample challenge to our competitors.
3.8
There has also been much discussion about morning practices. Clearly conditions for morning practices are less than ideal and the staging places an enormous strain on the competitors and officials, including the marshals and the medical services. In the light of this we have decided to discontinue morning practices except as emergency sessions in the event of bad weather. In adjusting the programme for 2004 we will however replace the lost practice time by introducing new timed qualification sessions during race week.
3.9
Based on the above, the revised practice and race programme for 2004 (with changes over that previously announced shown in italics) will be:-
Saturday 29 May
Evening practice (solos/sidecars)
Monday 31 May
No morning practice
Evening practice (solos/sidecars)
Tuesday 1 June
Evening practice (solos/sidecars)
Wednesday 2 June
Morning practice - emergency only
Evening practice (solos/sidecars)
Thursday 3 June
Afternoon practice (solo/sidecar/solo)
Friday 4 June
Morning practice - emergency only
Evening practice (solo/sidecar)
Saturday 5 June
TT Formula 1 (4 laps)
Sidecar A (3 laps)
Solo Practice
Monday 7 June
Lightweight 400/Ultralightweight 125 (4 laps)
Production 1000 (3 laps)
Solo and Sidecar Practice
Wednesday 9 June
Junior TT (4 laps)
Sidecar B (3 laps)
Solo Practice
Friday 11 June
Production 600 (3 laps)
Senior TT (4 laps)
Lap of Honour
3.10
In announcing this revised programme we have not rejected the idea of more substantial change to the programme for 2005 and beyond. We will be continuing to consult with both the manufacturers and the Riders Forum during the early part of 2004 with a view to a much wider consultation on specific proposals during spring 2004. The aim is to announce details of changes for 2005 during May 2004 in order that those interested have the maximum notice.
4.
SUPPLEMENTARY REGULATIONS
4.1
The Supplementary Regulations were substantially rewritten in 1999 and have been updated each year since.
4.2
It has been normal practice for the draft Supplementary Regulations to be supplied to both the manufacturers and the Riders Forum, for comments. Following the experience in 2002 we extended the consultative process by Sending the draft to the key individuals within the manufacturers racing teams as well as to the manufacturers themselves Publishing the draft on the website Prima facie we received a number of very helpful comments on the draft.
4.3
Notwithstanding the extensive consultative process, it became clear during the event that there were a number of areas in the Supplementary Regulations where the main teams were unhappy. In particular, issues such as numbers and number plates and pit lane controls, whilst being transparently clear in the Regulations and not having elicited any feedback at draft stage, became problems. These were the sort of issues which underpinned the media attacks regarding the organisers being out of touch.
4.4
One issue which was raised by a number of consultees was conflict with Scrutineers regarding numbers. Whilst the primary timing system is based on transponders, it remains important that back-up manual timekeeper and course marshals can read numbers and, in practice, determine the class from the plate colour.
4.5
For 2004 we will be changing one plate colour to reduce the risk of confusion and will take a more pragmatic approach to enforcement focussed on addressing actual problems in reading numbers or identifying classes.
4.6
A formal consultative meeting with the manufacturers and team managers will take place during the consultative process for the 2004 Supplementary Regulations.
4.7
As part of the consultative process a copy of the draft Supplementary Regulations will be sent by E Mail to all competitors using such system.
5.
PRODUCTION CLASSES
5.1
The consultative process elicited some mixed views on production classes. Some people welcomed reversion in 2003 to standard exhausts, others felt it a retrograde step; some people do not like production racing at all; others see it as the future of the TT. Perhaps the only real consensus was that any production race has to be effectively policed to have any credibility.
5.2
Notwithstanding a few contrary comments, we do not accept that the issue of production exhausts and noise are a bona fide safety issue.
5.3
During the consultative exercise it was realised that many competitors have already sourced machinery for TT 2004 based on our announcement in June 2003. In those circumstances we have deferred consideration of any exact technical rules for production machines until 2005 and will be running the 2004 production races on broadly the same basis as 2003.
5.4
Options under consideration for 2005 and beyond include:
  • retain 2003 rules
  • adopt FIM/BSB superstock rules
  • produce TT specific rules
5.5
We recognise the importance, regardless of the nature of the rules, of enforcing those rules and eliminating the potential for cheating. In 2004 we will be ensuring high profile enforcement of the production rules.
6.
MARSHALS AND OFFICIALS
6.1
It is most unfortunate that in the post TT period various persons chose to level criticism at the volunteer marshals and officials. At the outset it needs to be remembered that it takes something in excess of 1,000 volunteers to make the event possible.
6.2
Notwithstanding those criticisms, the Department and the senior officials of the meeting are convinced that our volunteer marshals and officials are superb at the job they are asked to do. This statement of support should not, however, be misconstrued as complacency and everyone equally recognises that standards are changing.
6.3
We have, for a number of years, been working with the TT Marshals Association to ensure that standards of marshalling meet modern and changing requirements. In particular, we have delivered tailored marshal training to over 400 individuals.
6.4
For 2004 and into the future we will be progressing, in conjunction with the TT Marshals Association:
  • agreed marshalling cover levels
  • further training programmes
  • increased flag positions
  • enhanced communications (new digital radio system proposed for 2004)
  • risk assessments for all sectors
6.5
Both the race organisers and the TT Marshals Association are aware of the need to recruit and train more marshals. In particular we would like to see more young people and they will be a particular target of local recruitment drives. In addition, there is a widely held view that in order to be a TT Marshal you must be an Isle of Man resident. This is patently untrue and we will be working with the Marshals Association to enhance recruitment through joint representation at key motorcycle shows.
6.6
One area of concern from the TT Marshals Association and from individual marshals is the observation of flag signals; and in particular, waved yellow flags. The instruction in the Supplementary Regulations is that the waved yellow flag means Danger, slow down, prepare to stop, no overtaking. Furthermore, in the compulsory rider briefing sessions conducted by the Clerk of the Course and his team, riders are given 30 m.p.h. as the speed under a waved yellow flag. However, anyone who has ever travelled a long distance at high speed recognises that what appears to be slow can actually be rather too fast.
6.7
In 2004 and beyond we will be looking to reinforce the briefings to riders. We have always been prepared, if necessary, to deal with riders who are reckless or who wilfully ignore flag signals; and this will be reinforced toboth marshals and riders.
6.8
There was also criticism of scrutineers in the post TT period; and, in particular, there was concern about conflict with the major teams over matters which they considered to be trivial.
6.9
For TT 2004 we will, through the Chief Technical Officer, be seeking to clarify roles and responsibilities to remove some of the potential for conflict.
6.10
We will also be seeking to improve the relationship between the organisers and the major teams and top riders by appointing a specific liaison officer. This individual will be a one stop shop for liaison between the parties and as a senior official of the meeting will be able to solve issues before they become problems or cause conflict.
7.
PADDOCK
7.1
Following the 2002 Races there was a major review of TT Paddock arrangements externally initiated by health and safety concerns.
7.2
The revised arrangements were intended to address concerns surrounding:
  • overloading of the paddock and services
  • poor sanitary provision
  • access by the public (especially children) to high risk areas
7.3
The key changes introduced for 2003 were:
  • provision of a separate sidecar paddock in Nobles Park with its own showers and toilets
  • renovation of the main toilet/shower block
  • enhanced security
  • relocation of the welding service into the paddock
7.4
The consultative exercise has confirmed the view at the time that the new arrangements were far from successful.
7.5
Accordingly for TT 2004 we will be introducing a major re-organisation of the paddock involving:
  • reversion to a single unified paddock (i.e. no separate sidecar paddock)
  • enhanced public access to less sensitive areas especially outside actual race periods
  • relocation of trade areas back to the area around the Hailwood Centre
  • extending the hard surface on the day field (subject to approval from Douglas Corporation as landowner)
8.
COURSE PROTECTION
8.1
It is self evident that racing on closed public roads at speeds approaching 180 m.p.h. is inherently a risk activity and anyone who chooses to race does so in the full knowledge of those risks.
8.2
As part of an on-going programme, the Department has acquired 75 x 2 metre Airfence Type A and 17 x 3 metre Airfence Type B; and in 2003 these were deployed:
  • Greeba Bridge (Type A)
  • Ballacraine (Type A)
  • Laurel Bank (Type A)
  • Glen Helen (Type A)
  • Cruickshanks (Type B)
  • Whitegates (Type A)
  • Hairpin (Type A)
  • Bungalow (Type A)
  • Creg ny Baa (Type A)
8.3
Certainly the Airfence barriers are more effective in impact situations than the traditional straw bales. Whilst no course protection product can provide any sort of guarantee against serious injury; they do lower the risk.
8.4
We will be continuing the programme of acquiring modern protective devices and these will be progressively deployed based on risk assessment.
9.
RACE OFFICE
9.1
There was considerable feedback about the Race Office and the difference between the way it operated during the TT as opposed to the Manx Grand Prix, and suggestions for improvements.
9.2
One of the consequences of the organisational changes outlined in paragraph 2 will be that the Manx Motor Cycle Club will now be running the Race Office at the TT as well as at the MGP.
10.
TIMING
10.1
The problems with the new automatic timing system during TT 2003 were self-evident and clearly attracted some comment.
10.2
Overall, however, when the system did work properly, we saw a real indication of the potential difference which transponder based timing can make to the presentation of the event to both spectators and the media.
10.3
The Department has asked the Information Systems Division of the Treasury who provide all of the main computer systems for the Isle of Man Government to project manage a re-launch of the automatic timing system for 2004.
10.4
Whilst automatic timing is a progressive step in its own right and is consistent with the modern standards expected at a world class event, the real benefits lay in the impact which it can make on the way which the event is presented to our customers, be they spectators, the media, radio listeners, television viewers or internet surfers. The enhanced information provided by the automatic timing system will make the races more exciting and watchable; and must start to open up the realistic prospect of live television coverage in years to come.
10.5
In 2004 the priority will be to ensure the effective operation of the core technology.
10.6
For 2005 and beyond we will be looking to enhance the spectating and viewing experience. Key ideas include the use of large screens to display both race data and webcam feeds.
11.
QUALITY OF ENTRY
11.1
We received a lot of comment about the quality of entry and the differential in quality between the leading riders and the back markers.
11.2
Whilst many see this as a new problem, the reality is that where, in order to make a race viewable you need a minimum of 60 machines circulating there always was, and always will be, a big gap.
11.3
We do, however, recognise the risks associated with speed and quality differentials especially in races (as opposed to practices) and for 2004 we will be tightening qualification times.
11.4
Many people submitting views feel that we should do more to attract top riders to the TT. Our view is that we should not use money to persuade someone to race here against their better judgement. We must, however, ensure that we help to enable those quality riders, whatever their background and origins, who have the desire to face the challenge of the greatest road races in the world, to do so.
12.
PRESENTATIONS AND AWARDS
12.1
Although visitors to the Island may well have been unaware, the 2003 TT Prize Presentations were organised at the very last minute. Even a month prior to the event there was real doubt whether Summerland would be even open for TT 2003. The staff at Summerland did everything possible to mitigate the problems, but there were still some valid criticisms.
12.2
With the refurbished Villa Marina due to re-open at Easter 2004, the Prize Presentations will be returning to their traditional home. This will provide an opportunity to raise the standards to new levels in this superb venue.
13.
LAP OF HONOUR - Nostalgia Weekend
13.1
We firmly believe that the TT Lap of Honour represents a major event within the TT programme and is very much enjoyed by the spectators. The current consultative exercise certainly confirmed that view.
13.2
As will be seen from paragraph 3.9 we are moving the 2004 event to Senior Race Day in order that it can feature in the finale of the whole event. What better way to complete the Festival on the TT Course by saluting the heroes of yesteryear and revelling in the nostalgia that is TT history.
13.3
Within the 2004 Lap of Honour we will be looking to feature riders from the 1950s through to the 1990s as well as machinery of historic significance from the whole history of the event.
13.4
The aim is also to start to build around the Lap of Honour a series of classic events, including a separate parade on the Billown circuit during the Steam Packet Races, the day after Senior Race Day, and continuing with the displays of classic machines in Castletown Square and elsewhere.
13.5
Another advantage will be that those wishing to take part in the Lap of Honour will now be travelling away from the main peak travel periods and should thus have access to better fares and make a real classic weekend of activities.
14.
FESTIVAL ENTERTAINMENT
14.1
We received a lot of comments with different views on the entertainment available. We will be looking to freshen up the entertainment and combine some fresh ideas with some of the well-loved traditional items, e.g. rallies, riders forums, etc.
14.2
In particular we will be looking to develop the festival atmosphere on Douglas Promenade. The experimental siting of the Funfair on Douglas Promenade was one of the successes of TT 2003 and we will be looking to build on that success for 2004 and beyond.
14.3
We will also be looking at how we might make the leading riders more accessible to the TT fans. The consultative exercise has indicated that this accessibility is a key feature of what attracts our customers and needs to be developed.
14.4
In 2004 we will be looking to develop the concepts of Meet the Rider and Autograph sessions.
14.5
Whilst the Races are the focus of the TT package, we should not underestimate the importance of the many other events that go to make up the festival of motorcycling.
14.6
We will be looking to work with the Isle of Man Centre of the ACU, the local motorcycle clubs and professional organisers to develop new and enhanced motorcycle based activities.
15.
TRAVEL AND ACCOMMODATION
15.1
Promoting Off-Peak Travel. T.T. Fortnight is comprised of a week of Practices and a week of Racing and, understandably, attendance is at its highest during the commencement of Race Week. In an attempt to boost attendance during the quieter period, we have been discussing with the Isle of Man Steam Packet Company the viability of reduced fares at the commencement of the Festival as an initiative aimed at boosting attendance from fans during the first week and a similar initiative for the Classic Weekend at the end of TT race week. We have had close co-operation with the Steam Packet Company to date and will investigate with them this and other initiatives.
15.2
Customer Handling. Enhanced communication with potential T.T. fans will be high on our agenda. Easily obtained information in relation to travel/accommodation/activities during the T.T. fortnight will be prioritised utilising brochures, electronic information and a telephone call-centre.
15.3
Additional Accommodation for 2004. In recent years, accommodation during T.T. has been difficult to obtain for anybody who has not made a booking some time in advance. During 2003 the problems were exacerbated because a number of hotels were being refurbished. An estimated five or six medium to large hotels were not available during the T.T. period as a result. By T.T. 2004 this situation will have been improved and more beds will be available. Currently a number of new hotels are at various stages of consideration on the Island and we hope that new beds will be available in due course.
15.4
The Homestay Programme has played a pivotal role for more than a decade in relation to the provision of accommodation during the T.T. period and its importance continues. Within the Department of Tourism, the staff and systems employed are in place to ensure that the potential guest and the Homestay provider can effectively interact. We will, once again, be making an early appeal to Isle of Man residents to join the Homestay Scheme so that we are further able to meet the demand for accommodation during T.T. fortnight.
15.5
Ferry Travel. The T.T. fans Isle of Man experience commences the moment they embark upon the ferry or Seacat at Heysham, Liverpool, Dublin or Belfast. Working once again with the Isle of Man Steam Packet Company, we are keen to enhance the provision of information available on board about the racing and other TT Festival events through the medium of videos, leaflets and/or dedicated staff on board the vessel who can answer queries and dispense relevant information about the event.
15.6
TT On-Island Ambassadors. Flowing on directly from the information service available on the ferries, we are to launch an on-Island scheme requesting local residents to enrol as Ambassadors. Easily identifiable, they would be present at the Grandstand, at events and at a number of other Island locations to generally provide information and assistance to T.T. visitors. This approach has worked tremendously well at major sporting events off the Island and during the Island Games on the Isle of Man in 2001.
15.7
Short breaks. Based on information received we are investigating the viability of short break packages that could be marketed during the T.T. weekends. Further discussions will be held with tour operator/s in this regard. The accommodation issue and the availability thereof will play a crucial part in the success of this initiative.
15.8
German and other European Supporters. Noticeable by its absence, was the German market at T.T. 2003. While our research indicates that this was directly because of a weak Germany economy, this will hopefully be corrected in 2004 by the growing strength of the Euro. The level of attendance from Germany is undoubtedly affected by the cost of travel/accommodation on the Island and we have been pleased to learn that certain tour operator/s and hotels have fixed prices for 2004 at 2003 levels. The Department attends important European exhibitions and the T.T. continues to enjoy good exposure on television. Accordingly, we hope to welcome increased visitors from Europe for TT 2004.
15.9
Camp Sites. Camp sites enjoy a high popularity at other race meetings in the United Kingdom and Europe and we will be working with camp site providers on the Island to promote their facilities through a Camp Site Directory and through the T.T. web site. It is also hoped that camp site availability in 2004 will be further expanded and the Department has funds available to support improvements to camping and other rural accommodation providers.
16.
TT THINK TANK
16.1
Quite separate from the public consultation prior to TT 2003 the Minister had appointed a TT Think Tank comprising a range of respected local businessmen to take an independent look at the TT Races and Festival and identify opportunities to develop the event into the future with a particular emphasis on commercial aspects.
16.2
The TT Think Tank is expected to report to the Minister in the near future. Whilst there will inevitably be some overlap between the two reports; and they will share the same overall objective of ensuring a bright and sustainable future, they should be broadly complementary.
17.
MARKET RESEARCH
17.1
This consultative exercise has provided the Department and its partners with a strong insight into the views of many people who contribute to the greatest road races in the world.
17.2
Inevitably, however, people tend to respond to a consultative exercise such as this because they are passionate about the subject or have strong views.
17.3
It is important that we also have an understanding of those customers and potential customers who are equally important to the future, but who have not, for whatever reason, responded.
17.4
In 2004 and beyond we will be looking to conduct enhance market research so that we can better understand and then satisfy, the needs of our wider customer base.
18.
THANKS TO CONTRIBUTORS
18.1
The Minister of Tourism and Leisure and everyone else associated with the organisation of the TT races, wish to place on record our thanks for the time given by so many to this wide consultation.
18.2
We believe that with many of the proposals outlined and with all parties working positively together, the TT Races have a secure and exciting future.
19.
SUMMARY

The following changes and initiatives are set out in this Report:-

  • The Department have negotiated an in principle twenty year licence with the ACU under which effective control of the TT Races will be locally vested. (section 2.3) A legal document to give full force to this is anticipated to be concluded soon.
  • Whilst the Department will remain central to the whole organisation of the event, responsibility for the actual racing on the TT Course will be delegated to the Manx Motor Cycle Club (section 2.4)
  • The signing of a 20 year contract will also remove all doubt about the commitment of the Isle of Man Government to the future of the event. (section 2.7) TT Formula 1 and Senior TT to be 4 lap races (section 3.7)
  • Discontinuation of morning practice (except in an emergency) and replacement with timed practice sessions during race week (sections 3.8 & 3.9)
  • Further consultation on possible changes that would be more far reaching with a view to an announcement in May 2004 and implementation at TT2005 (section 3.10)
  • More effective consultation on the Supplementary Regulations for the event (sections 4.2, 4.6 & 4.7)
  • No changes to production rules but enhanced enforcement to deal with concerns about possible cheating. (sections 5.1 and 5.5)
  • Proposals to develop marshals and marshalling and to recruit new marshals (sections 6.4 & 6.5)
  • Measures to reduce the potential for conflict between competitors/teams and the race organisation (sections 6.7, 6.9 and 6.10)
  • Major improvements to the paddock including reversion to a single unified paddock (i.e. no separate sidecar paddock), enhanced public access to less sensitive areas especially outside actual race periods, relocation of trade areas back to the area around the Hailwood Centre and provision of a hard surface to much of the day field (subject to approval from Douglas Corporation as landowner) (section 7.5)
  • Continued programme of acquiring and deploying modern course protection. (section 8.4)
  • Information Systems Division of the Treasury to oversee a re-launch of the transponder based automatic timing system. (section 10.3)
  • General tightening of TT qualification times (section 11.4)
  • Lap of Honour moved to Senior Race Day as part of a nostalgia weekend (sections 13.2 to 13.4)
  • Enhanced TT Festival activities (sections 14.2, 14.4, 14.6)

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