Road racing

Road racing: Diamond Races set for Isle of Wight debut in 2021

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Road racing is set to make its debut on the Isle of Wight in the form of the Diamond Race, which will take place on a 12.4 mile-long course in the south of the Island.

The road-race boasts a course through the picturesque villages of Chale, Kingston, Shorwell and Brighstone as well as a fast 5-mile coastal stretch along the military road, and will see two practice days on Wednesday and Thursday, followed by the time-trial feature races staged on a Saturday, with the exact event date being announced after the 2021 British Superbike calendar is published.

Planned to become a regular motorcycle race meeting and end-of-season celebration, the event will take place a week after the British Superbike season traditionally wraps up at the Brands Hatch circuit in Kent, welcoming Superbike, Supersport and lightweight machine categories along with a sidecar demonstration.

The Diamond Races has a world-leading team behind it, not only with huge names from the motorcycle road racing industry, but also boasting a globally-experienced business team with notable digital, technology and event management expertise to make the event possible, and working in close conjunction with the Isle of Wight council to host the event with full local support. Some of the key players include Gary Thompson MBE (Isle of Man TT Clerk of the Course), Steve Plater (past Isle of Man TT Senior winner and ex British Champion), Neil Tuxworth (ex-Honda Racing Manager) as well as James Kaye (ex-British Touring Car Championship driver and Diamond Races co-founder) and Matt Neal (three-time British Touring Car Champion and Honda UK ambassador).

The road surface is descried by organisers as ‘excellent’, but before the races can take place there are 2,500 white lines that need to be treated, 177 manhole covers will be coated for safety,  1,500 cats eyes will be removed, as well as a small number of telegraph poles as they are in the direct line of bikes on some of the challenging sections of the course. Walls will be protected, all road signage will be removed beforehand and returned after the event, as well as the cats eyes and telegraph poles.

Paul Sandford, CEO and Co-Founder of the Diamond Races, said: As an Isle of Wight local resident, I am very excited to welcome motorsport fans from across the globe to this beautiful island, for what is sure to be an unforgettable weekend of racing action and entertainment for the whole family. The Diamond Races is the culmination of years of hard work, dedication and planning by the whole team, and we’re very lucky to have the best of the best involved with its setup. No stone is being left unturned in striving to deliver a spectacular event which we have every reason to believe will be a regular back-stop to the island’s tourist season and put the Isle of Wight on the international motorcycle road racing map.”‍

Road racing: Ian Hutchinson signs for TAS Racing squad for 2020 roads assault

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Road racing ace Ian Hutchinson has signed to race for the TAS Racing squad for the 2020 roads campaign.

The 16-time Isle of Man TT winner returns to the Northern Irish outfit after previously competing for Philip and Hector Neill’s team in the 2016 and 2017 seasons.

Hutchinson said he is ready to race when the coronavirus pandemic lockdown is lifted. He said: “Putting this deal together with Philip Neill and SYNETIQ BMW to do the international road races is perfect for me really. I was secretly hoping that would be the case all winter if I’m honest. I had great success and a lot of fun the last time I rode the S1000RR for TAS Racing, and having prepared so well in January and February I’m ready to race when all this lockdown is over.”

TAS team principal Philip Neill said: “I honestly thought our racing days with Ian had come to an end after our successful partnership through 2016/17. However we are clearly delighted that Ian was not only available but extremely keen on a return to TAS Racing. We can only hope there is an opportunity available to celebrate the partnership during 2020.”

Road racing: Arai launches 2020 Isle of Man TT Limited Edition Arai RX-7V

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The 2020 Isle of Man TT races may have been cancelled due to the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic (and the governmental health guidelines that are in place around Europe) but while the sound of racing motorcycles will not now echo down Bray Hill this summer, one part of the annual festival will still  be available – the 2020 Isle of Man TT Limited Edition Arai RX-7V!

Despite the lack of racing, Arai made the decision to launch the limited edition to honour the spirit of the TT in its absence and the new helmet features classic lines and a bold black, red and gold colour scheme combined with familiar TT-specific details, like Ellan Vannin (the Manx name for the Isle of Man) in Celtic-style lowercase script mirroring ISLE OF MAN either side of the central Arai logo, as well as the three legs of man – the famous triskelion – highlighted in Gold (against an outline of the 37.73mile/60.725km TT course) on the sides and chinbar. A stylised outline of the Senior Trophy, flanked by LIMITED EDITION tags are the finishing touches.

Ingmar Stroeven, Arai Helmet (Europe) B.V. Managing Director: “These are challenging times and sometimes sport must take a back seat to life. We were really looking forward to revealing our 2020 Isle of Man TT Limited Edition RX-7V on Friday the 27th of March on the Isle of Man, alongside Michael Dunlop and Steve Plater. But it’s not to be. For all of us at Arai the TT is such a special event and one we engage with completely, in terms of riders and fans alike. And it is for this reason we have decided to go ahead with this year’s Isle of Man TT Limited Edition RX-7V – which we feel is absolutely stunning – and do our part to keep the irrepressible feeling of the TT alive.”

For more information on the IoM TT Limited Edition Arai RX-7V visit the RX-7V page on our website.

Road racing: North West 200 2020 races postponed

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The North West 200 races are the latest sporting event to fall victim to the ongoing Coronavirus outbreak.

The event – which was scheduled to take place on May 10-16 – has been postponed until a later date, but organisers have not given any indication of when this will be.

A statement by the organisers said: “Given the current concerns and restrictions around the Coronavirus public health crisis, the organisers of the 2020 North West 200 will postpone the May 10-16 Race Week.

“Over the past two weeks we have been in constant contact with government and public health officials, representatives of Causeway Coast and Glens Council, and the sport’s governing body, the MCUI (UC).

“Today’s decision has been based upon the advice and guidance received. Our paramount desire is to act responsibly and do all we can to protect everyone from the threat posed by the virus.

“We enjoy the full support of loyal sponsors and stakeholders in making this decision but apologise for any inconvenience it has caused to them, our competitors, volunteers and race fans.”

Road racing: 2020 Isle of Man TT races cancelled

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The road racing calendar is the latest victim of the ongoing Coronavirus outbreak with Manx Government cancelling the 2020 Isle of Man TT

The announcement comes as the United Kingdom ups its coronavirus response in a bid to contain the outbreak.

“The decision to cancel has not been taken lightly and all options including postponement and delaying the decision have been considered in detail,” said Laurence Skelly MHK, Minister for Enterprise, in a press release.

“Representatives from the Isle of Man Government will now discuss the implications with all relevant businesses, stakeholders and individuals affected by this cancellation, which it recognises will be significant.

“With the visitor restriction in place for the foreseeable future we wanted to make the decision now to give businesses, visitors and all involved stakeholders time to manage the impact going forward.

“The Isle of Man, and the Isle of Man TT, are faced with unique challenges regarding COVID-19 and making this decision will provide certainty to teams, competitors, sponsors and stakeholders of the event and to visitors across the globe.

“The decision also aims to provide reassurance for our residents and healthcare professionals that the health and well-being of the Isle of Man’s residents is the single biggest priority and focus of this Government.”

The news follows the postponement of the Cookstown 100 and Tandragee 100 races and the imminent postponement of the North West 200.

Road racing: Michael Dunlop to race a Ducati V4 R at TT

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Road racing ace Michael Dunlop has announced he will ride a Ducati V4 R Panigale for Paul Bird Motorsport for his 2020 Isle of Man TT campaign.

The 19-time TT race winners announced a link-up with the reigning British Superbike title-winning squad for 2020, which will see Dunlop spearhead Ducati’s return to the famous 37.37-mile TT circuit.

It is still unclear what Dunlop’s plans are for the Superstock, Supersport and Lightweight classes on the roads, though it is likely he will continue to run machinery under his own MD Racing banner.

Road racing: McGuinness ditches Norton for the Quattro Plant Bournemouth Kawasaki team for 2020 campaign

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TT legend John McGuinness has turned his back on Norton and signed for the Quattro Plant Bournemouth Kawasaki team.

McGuinness, a 23-time TT winner, will ride the team’s bikes in the Superstock and superbike classes at this year’s North West 200 and Isle of Man TT international road races.

Quattro Plant Kawasaki are concentrating solely on the roads in 2019, having previously competed successfully in the British Superbike Championship, a series they won with Leon Haslam in 2017, and Alastair Seeley will be McGuinness’s team-mate at the NW200, having signed for the team in November.

The move comes after the team recently announced that they were parting company with their regular roads racer James Hillier after a 10-year partnership.

McGuinness said: “I’m delighted to announce my plans for the 2020 international road racing season and equally delighted to be riding for Quattro Plant Bournemouth Kawasaki.

“Their record on the roads with James Hillier, in terms of both results and reliability, along with their reputation within the bike industry, speak for themselves and with it being such a family-orientated team, it’s the perfect fit for me.

“It’s a highly reputable, professional team who have achieved great things on both the roads and the circuits and, for me, they tick all the boxes.”

“After my performances at Macau, I really got my mojo back and, with my leg now 100%, I feel like I’m as riding as well as ever. Joining Kawasaki and riding the Ninja ZX-10RR is a new chapter for me, one I’m excited about and really looking forward to.”

McGuinness, 47, was the outright lap record holder around the 37.73-mile TT Mountain Course from 2004-2013, regaining the accolade in 2015 when he lapped at a personal best speed of 132.701mph, and his tally of TT wins stands three behind the record held by the late Joey Dunlop, while his tally of 47 podiums is the highest figure of all time.

Road racing: Hickman switches to Yamaha for 2020 Supersport assault

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Peter Hickman and Smiths Racing have ended end their long association with Triumph in favour of Yamaha machinery in the TT Supersport class.

The Lincolnshire rider’s win in the second Supersport TT race of 2019 followed four successive podium finishes around the Mountain Course and he also rode to a hat-trick of wins at last year’s Ulster Grand Prix.

However, the Triumph Daytona 675 is no longer in production, making parts increasingly scarce and it is for this reason that Smiths Racing is switching its allegiance to Yamaha and its R6, which currently dominates the World and British Supersport classes, and was also a winning machine at the 2019 Isle of Man TT.

Hickman said: “We’re all really looking forward to 2020 and having the official BMW support for the first time is a big thing for us as we’re a privately-run, small team so to get that recognition is absolutely fantastic and nothing short of what, I feel, the team deserves – what we’ve achieved over the last three years has been pretty epic!

“We’ve made the decision to change from the Triumph to the Yamaha in the Supersport class for the International road races which will obviously be a bit different to the last three years. We’ve had an awesome time with the Triumph and it’s been absolutely brilliant with the win at last year’s TT and all three victories at the Ulster Grand Prix being phenomenal.

“The little Daytona has done a fantastic job but, unfortunately, it’s a little bit long in the tooth now so to try and move with the times and keep up with what everyone else is doing we’ve decided to move over to the Yamaha. I’ve never actually raced an R6 before so I’m really looking forward to jumping on it to see what we can do.

Hickman will compete in all two-wheel classes of the 2020 Isle of Man, riding the factory-backed BMW S1000RR in the Superbike classes and a Norton Superlight in the Lightweight TT.

“We’re also running the Norton Superlight and carrying out all of the development work on the 650 Superlight which the team have already got in pieces and set to work on to hopefully turn the bike into a race winner at the TT.”

Road racing: Michael Dunlop switches to Alpinestars for 2019 campaign

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Michael Dunlop is the third most successful rider in the Isle of Man TT’s long and illustrious history and has 18 victories so far to his name. The northern Irish racer is widely recognised as one of road racing’s most determined and tenacious competitors, and the 2019 campaign sees him join the Alpinestars line-up as he races between the hedges in a bid to add more silverware to his name.

Michael will wear Supertech R boots and recently visited the company’s Italian HQ in Italy to get measured. He said: “Alpinestars is the best company in the world in terms of producing protective rider equipment. For 2019 my plan was to make sure I have the best materials available to me, and that is why I’ve chosen Supertech R boots. I firmly believe these boots are a different level. I’ve spoken to fellow road racer John McGuinness and I know the company listens to feedback from its athletes, and then uses this feedback to improve its products. It’s a good demonstration of the company’s commitment to protection.”

Road racing: Dunlop finally gets his hands on new BMW S1000RR

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Michael Dunlop has taken to the track for the first time on the all-new Tyco BMW S1000RR during a shakedown test at the Kirkistown Circuit in County Down, Northern Ireland.

The latest version of the German Superbike was unveiled at the 2018 EICMA motorcycle show in November, but Dunlop’s Tyco BMW team and Peter Hickman’s Smiths Racing BMW team only took delivery of their machines in the last month. Since then it’s been a race against time for the teams to get the bikes prepared and built to official Superbike specification.

Despite their best efforts, neither team had their bikes ready for the official British Superbike tests in Monteblanco, Spain or Portimao, Portugal last month and they were also forced to miss the final BSB test earlier this week at Silverstone.

The BMW has been the weapon of choice on the roads since Dunlop took a memorable Superbike, Superstock and Senior TT hat-trick riding for the Hawk BMW team in 2014. Since then, 11 of the 15 1000cc races around the TT Mountain Course have been won on the BMW S1000RR with Dunlop, Hickman and Ian Hutchinson each winning for the German manufacturer.