Fast-rising road racing talent Davey Todd believed his chance of making his mark at this year’s Isle of Man TT had vanished in the Manx mist.
Unrelenting poor weather, which had the unwelcome honour of being the most prolonged spell of wet and foggy conditions in recent times, severely hampered the practice and race schedule.
For Todd, last year’s fastest newcomer at the TT (127.89mph) and the second-quickest rookie ever around the Mountain Course behind Peter Hickman, the inconvenience weighed even more heavily on his shoulders as he struggled for much-needed laps on the Penz13.com BMW S1000RR.
The Saltburn-by-the Sea rider, who made the switch to German Rico Penzkofer’s team after riding a Suzuki for Dungannon team boss John Burrows in 2018, was eager to follow-up his impressive debut a year previously in a similarly taking fashion.
As the days ticked past, the result, nor the kind of definitive performance he craved, failed to materialise.
Todd, though, was steadily ascending the order as each race came and went, opening up with a 10th place finish in the Superbike race followed by ninth in the first Supersport race, seventh in race two and eighth in the Superstock event.
With the bulk of the race schedule condensed into two days, the blue riband Senior TT suddenly dawned as the final chance for the 24-year-old to enhance his reputation as a potential future TT winner.
And how he grasped the moment.
Despite only managing a handful of laps in practice on his Penz BMW Superbike, Todd created one of the highlights of this year’s rain-lashed TT with a standout lap of 131.491mph on his way to a brilliant top-six finish, a seriously impressive lap for a rider who had only raced the hallowed 37.73-mile stretch of tarmac 12 months previously.
It was the grandstand moment Todd had hoped for, even though he never truly believed it was going to happen for him this year.
“It wasn’t really possible to go and have the same impact at the TT this year without doing something really special and after the two weeks we had weather-wise, I thought it was definitely off the cards,” said Todd.
“But we pulled it out of the bag in the Senior with a 131mph lap, which was exactly the kind of thing I wanted to do and it made sure that everyone was just as impressed as they were the year before – if not more with that lap time.
“It was nuts really and obviously I planned to do over 130mph, but to lap at well over 131mph was a bit crazy. I’m still not pushing and I’ve got so much more in reserve and a lot more to come, which makes me really excited for next year.”
Todd, who was using the previous model of the BMW as opposed to the brand-new 2019 S1000RR, struggled to find a comfortable set-up with the machine, but everything seemed to fall into place when it mattered in the final race of the festival.
“It was all about building at the TT and for me, switching to the BMW this season, there was a lot to learn. We struggled for the most part of the year to get the bike into a ballpark area where it worked for me,” he said.
“Anytime we tried something it didn’t really work for me and we ended up being really far away from the norm of how you would usually have the bike, but there was a downside to that as well.
“We just made it work to what I was comfortable with and with the weather at the TT being atrocious this year, I think I only got about three laps in practice on the Superbike. We had an engine blow-up one evening about three or four miles into the circuit, which cost us the chance of two laps in practice, so everything seemed against us but to pull that result in the Senior out of the bag – I was just over the moon with that.”
Todd was more thrilled with his lap speed in the Senior than his final result, which he admitted had come as a complete surprise.
“If I’d come in and the guys had told me I’d lapped at 126mph I wouldn’t have believed them,” he said.
“I couldn’t tell the difference: I hit my marks and did everything right, but I was still going into corners thinking, ‘I could’ve been so much faster through there’ or I was coming out of corners and leaving myself two or three feet of road to use on the exit. I’m still giving myself loads of room everywhere, so I’m still a long way away.
“It was a little bit weird because I only just went to the Classic TT and I came in and said to Clive (Padgett) that I was doing some sections quicker than I managed on my Superbike at the TT on the Yamaha OW01 in the Classic Superbike class.
“I’m learning all the time and making progress, so it’s a big learning curve for me still. That really showed at the TT because in every race I improved: I had a tenth, ninth, seventh, eighth and then a sixth!
“It would’ve been a fifth in the Senior but we had something go wrong in the pit-stop, but to be honest it was more about my lap time and my progress and knowing that I could do it myself.”
It was a case of job done at the TT and Todd will certainly head into 2020 with big expectations.
He started the season with a coveted international victory in a wet Supersport race at the North West 200 on Clive Padgett’s Honda, edging out Derek McGee and Conor Cummins. He later clinched third in the Superstock race behind James Hillier and Richard Cooper.
At the Ulster Grand Prix, Todd finished on the rostrum in second position in the Superstock race and took third in the Supersport class.
He was also fourth and fifth in the Superbike races at Dundrod, taking significant steps on the path to becoming an established frontrunner at the major international road races.
The English rider also won the International Road Racing Championship (IRRC) at his first attempt this year, wrapping up the title before this weekend’s final round at Frohburg in Germany.
Todd, who hopes to contest the final two rounds of the British Superbike Championship, will return to the Macau Grand Prix in November with the Penz team, where he finished ninth on his debut in 2018.