Road racing

Road racing – McPint signs for Norton for 2018 TT assault

23-time TT winner John McGuinness has signed to ride for the Norton factory team in the Superbike and Senior TT Races at the 2018 Isle of Man TT.
McGuinness joins 2015 British Superbike Champion Josh Brookes in a two-man team using the latest specification Norton ‘SG7’ machines, derived from the firm’s flagship V4 RR road bike.

McGuinness last won a Superbike class race in 2015, winning the Senior, which also saw him breaking the outright lap record with a lap of 132.701, which remains his fastest lap around the Mountain Course. He achieved podiums in both the 2016 Superbike and Senior TT but missed last year’s TT races meeting due to serious injuries sustained in the North West 200, which he is still recovering from. However, he expects to be back to full fitness in time for his TT debut with Norton this June.

McGuinness has enjoyed a remarkable TT career and is second only to Joey Dunlop in outright TT victories and is rightly considered as one of the all-time TT greats. In a career that has now stretched over twenty years, he has stood on the Isle of Man TT podium a record 46 times from 78 race finishes and is confident that more success is just around the corner now he has teamed up with this iconic British brand.

Talking about the news of his Norton signing, McGuinness said: “I didn’t want to end my career due to an injury, but the truth is I didn’t know whether I would be able to come back as I didn’t know how fit I was going to be. Right now, things are going well. I feel a lot sharper and my head is in gear and ready to go. The plan is to get the external fixator cage off my leg by the end of this month and after that we can start working towards getting bike fit and testing.”

“I’m definitely ready for a change of manufacturer. I needed an injection of enthusiasm and I’ve found it with Norton. From the first time I met with Stuart Garner the vibe was there and the passion. I watched Steve Hislop win the TT on the Norton in 1992 and it was massive. Everyone remembers that! We can’t get carried away, it’s going to be a big job but I’ve watched a lot of YouTube videos of the bike in action, I watched the bike out on track last year and it’s clearly very fast and capable, and I can tell you there are worse handling bikes out there too, so there’s no reason we can’t do the business if the stars line up right.”

Norton Motorcycles CEO Stuart Garner was equally bullish. He said: “We’ve been talking to John for a year or more, he’s the talent. He’s the man at the TT with the total experience, the results and the pedigree. We have the ambition to win the TT and to go on to develop a really strong team in years to come. We’d got John in our sights for a long time.”

“To get John in the Norton team with his experience and knowledge available is fabulous.  Norton will seize the opportunity to get John involved in all aspects of the bike – he’s a huge asset to Norton. Everyone in the factory has got a huge buzz. It’s pretty special.  We’re all looking forward to the TT but we’ve not set any targets and take nothing for granted. Putting John McGuiness and Norton together is a dream team, but we know all results at the TT are hard earned whatever your name.”


Road racing – plug pulled on 2018 Welsh Road Races


This year’s much-lauded inaugural Welsh Road Races at Eppynt will not go ahead due to a change in the traffic laws, say organisers.

The move comes after a hearing on January 9 with regard to the repeal of the Road Traffic Act. The repeal was to allow the use of closed Public Roads for Motorsport events. This repeal came into effect yesterday, on the 2nd February.

The Welsh Road Race had gained permissions previously, but the current change in legislation, has put the the timescale of the event into jeopardy, as there will not be enough time to obtain the correct permissions now to permit the event.

“We are working closely with the ACU, Crown Properties and Powys County Council to organise the Welsh Road Race, and under the new changes in legislation, the new deadlines that have been imposed, will make it very difficult to carry out a safe and successful event’, said Derek Smith, Managing Director of the Welsh Road Race.

“The Board of Directors are absolutely devastated, for all the supporters and all concerned with the event. We have began steps to contact all our supporters and sponsors who are involved in the event.”

Quite what the repeal is, and why it has forced the cancellation of the racing, is unclear, but it begs the question as to why organisers weren’t aware of the consequences of the change in legislation prior to launching the races to great fanfare. Thousands of race goers have already booked accommodation for the event, which had failed to attract any of the stars of the road racing world…

First MotoGP, now the road races – seems Wales has much to learn when out comes to staging a world class racing event.

Road racing – Brookes signs for Norton for 2018


Josh Brookes is set to return to the Isle of Man and will again represent the Norton factory in this year’s Superbike and Senior TT Races.

Australian Brookes, the 2015 British Superbike Champion, will compete on the ‘SG7’, derived from the V4 RR road bike. The bike that Brookes will ride is hand built at Norton’s Donington Hall factory and will continue its development and testing schedule in the hands of two-time TT Race winner – and Norton development rider – Steve Plater.

Brookes enjoyed a successful return to the Mountain Course last year following a two-year absence from the Isle of Man, which included the fastest ever lap around the TT Course by a Norton machine with 130.883mph.The lap was posted in the Senior race, which saw him finish in sixth place, his best finish to date at the TT. He also returned to the Isle of Man later in the year and secured his maiden Mountain Course win with victory in the Bennetts Senior Classic TT Race riding a Paton as well as riding a Rotary Norton to within 5 seconds of Steve Hislop’s fastest ever lap.

Speaking from his home in Australia, Brookes said: “It was a real honour to represent Norton last year. After a couple of years away it took me a bit of time to get dialled in again and despite the weather disruption I really felt comfortable by the end of race week and I’m raring to go again and build on last year with the team and add to their history around the Isle of Man.”

Brookes has enjoyed a meteoric rise at the TT since claiming the fastest newcomer title at the TT in 2013. He finished a best place of seventh in the 2014 Senior Race, which saw him improve his fastest lap to an impressive 129.859mph in only his second year at the island.


Road racing – Hutchinson and Johnston sign for factory Honda squad


Two road racing heavyweights – Ian Hutchinson and Lee Johnston – will be lining up on Honda machinery for the 2018 road racing season.

The experienced duo have signed for Honda Europe Motorsport factory backed outfit and will be contesting the North West 200, Isle of Man TT and the Ulster GP aboard the Honda CBR1000RR Fireblade SP2 in the Superbike and Superstock 1000 classes.

Both Hutchinson and Johnston are no strangers to Honda machinery and in 2010 Hutchy claimed his historic five-TT wins with the Padgetts Honda team. Hugely successful on the roads the ‘Bingley Bullet’ is a 16-time TT winner with 27 TT podiums to his name and will be looking to further add to his tally, as well as claiming the maiden road-racing win for the Fireblade SP2.

Former National Superstock 600 Champion Johnston made his debut at the North West 200 in 2008 and it was 2012 when he first rode the famous TT Mountain Circuit. ‘The General’ has impressed during his time on the roads collecting three wins and six podiums at the NW200, as well as two podiums at the Isle of Man TT. Johnston also has strong links with the Louth-based squad, having worked closely with the Honda Endurance Racing team as its Le Mans 24-hour reserve rider.

Hutchinson said: “I’m really looking forward to getting started with Honda Racing; it’s a new challenge and a fresh start for me. I suppose I have quite a bit of history with Honda, ten years ago I rode with this official team and in 2009/2010 I rode with Padgetts Honda, where I scored five-TT wins in a week, so I know the Fireblade pretty well. I haven’t ridden the Fireblade SP2 yet and will have to wait until we go testing early next year, but I can’t wait to start making some progress. The Honda team has a lot of experience at the TT and its history speaks for itself with the wins and successes over the years, it’s also nice to see a lot of the team still here who I worked with in the past, so I’m confident that come the New Year we can get started and start aiming to where we want to be.”

Johnston was equally excited by the new challenge. He said: “I am genuinely excited about being with Honda Racing next year, I’m probably the most excited I’ve been in years if I’m honest! I have had two tough years and it’s nice to have everything organised and in place early so I have nothing to worry about apart from riding motorbikes. So that for me is the biggest thing and what I wanted more than anything, as I have no outside distractions and I can just concentrate on doing my job. I’ve ridden the Fireblade SP2 already at Le Mans, when I was a reserve rider for the Honda Endurance Racing team, so I’ve got a bit of a head start in that respect. I enjoy riding the CBR, the tank fits me well and it isn’t as big as it looks! I just can’t wait now for testing to start in March and just get going with the new programme for the year.”

Road racing – Martin quits Honda

Guy Martin resized

Guy Martin has called time on his Honda road racing career after just six months, with the team struggling to get the new Fireblade fit for the roads.

The move is in stark contrast to the moment he joined the team earlier in the year when he was unveiled as team-mate to TT legend John McGuinness.

However, the new bike has been beset with electronic problems – John McGuinness suffered serious injuries when the throttle stuck open during Superbike qualifying at the NW200, and Martin then had a huge crash at the TT after experiencing what he described as ‘a boxful of neutrals’.

The team withdrew the bike from the TT and even though Martin tested at Cadwell a fortnight ago, he still coundn’t gel with the bike he labelled ‘a Jonah’. He said: “I went into the year right excited about the new Honda. I thought it would be great straight away and so did the team. I soon realised that it needed a lot of developing. It will be great, but it needs time and I’ve got loads of other projects going on, that I’d rather use that time for.

“I didn’t get involved to develop a bike over months and years – I was told I’d have a bike capable of winning straight away and that’s why I couldn’t turn down the opportunity.

“The TT was a bloody disaster. Aside from walking the dog and racing the Mugen, I didn’t enjoy it. It was clear even before that we were going to struggle and then it turned into me really being a test rider, which I did, but after we did more testing at Cadwell a few weeks back, I said to the team the bike won’t be competitive at the Ulster Grand Prix. They decided to withdraw me from the event, although they didn’t tell me, which is OK as the decision was made for me.

“There’s no bad feeling. Neil Tuxworth has been upfront with me from the start and it’s a shame for everyone that the new bike hasn’t worked. I know how much effort I put in and so do the team, so no regrets but I’ve got no plans to do anymore road racing on the Hondas this year.”

The father to be revealed that he will still race, but on his own terms. He said: “I’ve not given up on racing or road racing, there’s no unfinished business and I want to race classics and oddball stuff. All I’ve been thinking about recently is Pikes Peak and any spare time my brain has had is about Pikes Peak on 4 wheels. That job is down to me and if it doesn’t work, it’s my fault and I like that. Nigel Racing Corporation (NRC) current plans are preparation for Pikes Peak and classic racing but the plans can change with the wind.”

Fifteen things I’ve learnt from the TT…


01) Michael Dunlop can ride anything fast around the Rock. Winning on the new Suzuki? Some achievement that…
02) The Gooseneck is the best spot I’ve watched from yet. So close you can see the riders eyes. And the lines between the quicker and slower riders is fascinating
03) Brandywell is up there too…can hear them for miles, and watching the fast boys hug the very edge of the tarmac before they tip left is intoxicating
04) The howl from Bruce Anstey’s RCV is earbleedingly loud. That noise is just beautiful
05) Josh Brookes is the most stylish rider around the Mountain course
06) The French are still the masters of the suicide move and love nothing better than just stopping at the side of the road in a large group with no indication whatsoever
07) But they’re not as bad as the Italians who are fast through the 30s and then slow as through the Nationals
08) Never believe the grizzled rider talking loudly to anyone who will listen. ‘My old R1 was better…used to rev to 24,000 and fly’. Yeah, whatever
09) Strange things really do happen on the Rock. Like when you talk via FB to an American with an Aprilia, a mate of a mate, and then find yourself stood right next to him, unplanned, at Lezayre
10) The Slock road may be the best bit of tarmac on the Island
11) The rope used to secure the bikes on the Manannan must be the strongest in the world. The crossing home was rough, really rough, and my Factory never moved an inch
12) The steak at the Forge is to die for….cooked rare of course
13) But the peanut butter cheesecake is out of this world. Quite simply the best dessert know to man
14) Never, ever be the man who orders a table for one at the Raj. And never, ever admit to being that man when the waitress comes out and asks for you in front of a group of drunknen, hungry bikers. Oh the shame 😉
15) There’s always one biker who thinks he can beat the queue and do a three-point turn on the Mezzanine deck of the boat when you dock in Liverpool. You can’t. Never, ever be that man, eh Yag?

Road racing – Dunlop dominates shortened Senior


Michael Dunlop won a shortened Senior TT race at the 2017 Isle of Man TT Races, with the Bennetts Suzuki rider taking his 15th TT victory by 13.3s from Peter Hickman (Smiths Racing BMW) and Dean Harrison (Silicone Engineering Kawasaki).

The race was restarted over four laps after the original race was red flagged on the second lap due to an incident involving 16-time TT winner Ian Hutchinson at the 27th Milestone. The Tyco BMW rider was conscious but was taken to hospital by airmed where it was later confirmed that he had suffered a fractured femur.

The race had been shaping up to be an epic with just 0.18s between Hickman and Hutchinson and Harrison only 1.2s further back in third but, eventually getting underway at 5.15pm, Dunlop led the restarted race through Glen Helen on the opening lap, with a 1.5s advantage over Bruce Anstey. Harrison was a further 0.9s back in third with Hickman, Michael Rutter and James Hillier completing the top six, the last two getting a second bite of the cherry having experienced problems in the first start.

Dunlop increased his lead through Ramsey slightly to 2s but Hickman was up to second ahead of Anstey who in turn held a 0.2s advantage over Harrison with Rutter still in fifth but with Conor Cummins now up to sixth at the expense of Hillier.

Dunlop added a further second to his lead by the time he reached the Bungalow and an opening lap speed of 132.292mph gave him a 4.2s lead over Hickman who in turn was 3.2s clear of Anstey. Harrison, Rutter and Cummins were holding station in fourth to sixth but Josh Brookes was on the move, going from 12th at Ramsey to eighth at the Grandstand.

At Glen Helen on lap 2 Dunlop had increased his lead by two more seconds and Harrison was now up to third with Anstey dropping back to fourth despite leading on the road and having a clear track. Rutter was still fifth but Hillier had moved back ahead of Cummins for sixth.

By Ramsey, Dunlop was still leading by 6s as him and Hickman practically matched each other every mile. Harrison was losing a bit of time in third but he was pulling away from Anstey who was extending his advantage over Rutter. Hillier was still sixth but just 2.4s covered him, Cummins and Brookes.

Coming into the pits at the end of the lap and Dunlop’s lead was now 9.2s after lapping at 132.903mph with Hickman in second and Harrison third, the latter having lapped at 131.838mph. Anstey was out though at Bedstead with the top six now completed by Rutter, Hillier and Cummins. Brookes was up to seventh having done his first 130mph+ lap around the Mountain Course at 130.551mph.

The lead was down slightly at Glen Helen on lap three to 7.7s as Hillier took over fourth from Rutter with Brookes moving up to sixth and by Ballaugh, Hickman had reduced the deficit to Dunlop further to 7.3s. However, through Ramsey for the third time and the Northern Irishman had got the gap back up to 8.5s.

Indeed, going into the fourth and final lap, the 28-year old was 10.6s clear of Hickman and he duly came home for his 15th TT win, his eventual winning margin being 13.3s.

Hickman made it five podiums from five starts with Harrison repeating his third place finish from Sunday’s RST Superbike race, aided by his first ever 132mph lap on lap four. Hillier and Rutter ended their strong weeks in fourth and fifth, the gap between the duo just 0.64s at the chequered flag.

The battle for sixth also went all the way to the end with Brookes, who lapped at 130.883mph fourth time around edging out Norton team-mate David Johnson. Cummins, Martin Jessopp, who recorded his first 130mph lap, and William Dunlop completed the top ten.

The results meant that Hickman won the Joey Dunlop Championship with 76 points based on cumulative results from the RST Superbike, Monster Energy Supersport, RL360 Quantum Superstock and PokerStars Senior TT Races with Hutchinson second (61) and Dunlop third (60).

Jamie Coward was the first privateer home in an excellent 11th place with Daley Mathison next home in 13th but Horst Saiger’s 18th saw him clinch the TT Privateer’s Championship. He finished with 71 points with Coward in second on 63.

Road racing – Martin refuses to race new Fireblade in Senior


In a move that surprises nobody, Guy Martin has refused to race the new Fireblade in this year’s Senior TT race.

The maverick Lincolnshire rider suffered a big crash after finding a ‘box full of neutrals’ on the racebike earlier in the week, a move which clearly left Martin visibly shook up.

A normally vocal Martin was unusually quiet following the incident, towing the official Honda line and allowing Honda Racing manager Jonny Twelvetrees to do the talking.

The island rumour mill was rife with report that the team had packed up and gone home, but that speculation proved to be unfounded, and instead the gossip focused on whether Martin would race or not.

And today Martin revealed his hand: “I came back to the TT this year to race and try to win with Honda Racing. I’ve done loads of testing and the team have been flat out, before we got here and at the event. But we’re not doing the times needed to be competitive here, we need more time to set up the bike and doing six laps will not achieve what we set out to do and I’ve always reckoned this is not the place to be out riding just to make up the numbers, so as a team we agreed it wasn’t right competing in the Senior TT. With the weather and my crash I’ve done plenty of tea drinking and dog walking.”

His team manager Jonny Twelvetrees revealed that the bike was ready, and that the decision not to race was martin’s. He said: “We’re disappointed not to be taking part in today’s Senior TT, a decision that is ultimately due to a lack of track time for Guy on the Fireblade. We came here to race and everyone in the team – who have worked extremely hard over the last few months – was looking forward to seeing what the new bike could do. Guy informed me that he wouldn’t race in the Senior, which is a tough decision to make but one I can understand given the lack of practice we’ve had.

“The good news is that Guy has told me that even though the TT hasn’t worked out, he’s keen to take part in the Southern 100 next month and try to get the most from the Fireblade there.”

Road racing – Rutter wins Lightweight TT

Michael Rutter took his first TT win since 2013, and his fifth in total, when he won the Lightweight TT race at the 2017 Isle of Man TT races, giving the Italian Paton manufacturer their first ever win around the Mountain Course. He set a new lap record of 118.645mph (1:16.19.324), beating Ivan Lintin’s time for the four lap race from last year.

Rutter took the lead from the beginning of the race and was never caught, eventually beating Martin Jessopp (Riders Motorcycles Kawasaki) by 8.8s with Peter Hickman taking yet another TT podium this week in third, this time on the KMR/IEG Kawasaki.

Rutter led through Glen Helen on the opening lap from his Paton team-mate Stefano Bonetti, the gap just one second with Jessopp only fourth tenths of a second further back in third. 2015 and 2016 race winner Ivan Lintin slotted into third ahead of Daniel Cooper and Hickman.

Passing through Ramsey first time around, Rutter had increased his lead slightly to 3.4s with Bonetti still holding onto second some 2.1s clear of Jessopp. Lintin was a further 2.9s back in fourth as Hickman moved up to fifth ahead of Cooper.

An opening lap of 118.955mph gave Rutter a 4.4s lead over Bonetti but Jessopp was now only one second behind as he looked to better this third place from last year’s race. Lintin was still in fourth but now 4.6s behind Jessopp as Hickman and Cooper maintained fifth and sixth.

Rutter added a further half second to his lead on the run to Glen Helen but it was Jessopp who was now up to second as Bonetti battled on track with Hickman and James Cowton. There was also a change in sixth as Michael Dunlop moved ahead of Cooper.

Coming into the pits for the fuel stop, a superb second lap of 120.362mph enabled Rutter to pull further clear, his lead now 10.5s from Jessopp as Bonetti’s good run ended with retirement at the Creg ny Baa. Lintin had a small advantage over Hickman and Cooper who was now up to fifth as Dunlop dropped back to seventh.

However, a helmet change by Lintin lost him valuable time whilst Rutter also lost time at the pits and, sure enough, through Glen Helen on lap three his lead over Jessopp was down to 2.8s. Hickman moved up to third at Lintin’s expense with Cooper in fifth and Cowton up to sixth.

Rutter immediately responded and almost doubled his lead on the high speed run to Ballaugh, his advantage going back up to 5.4s. Meanwhile, Hickman was now looking secure in third with a gap of over 21 seconds to Lintin but Gary Johnson was out of luck with his second retirement of the day.

At the head of the field, Rutter was pressing on ahead and going into the fourth and final lap, he’d increased his lead to 7.9s and was only a few machines length behind Jessopp on the road. Hickman was over 25 seconds behind in third with similar gaps between Lintin, Cooper and Dunlop but newcomer Adam McLean was forced to retire from an excellent ninth at Ballaugh.

Rutter had no such problems and, circulating with Jessopp on the road, he took the win by 8.8s with the latter securing his second TT podium and best ever result. Hickman’s stunning week continued with his fourth podium from four starts, giving team owner and former race winner Ryan Farquhar plenty to celebrate.

Lintin was unable to make it three in a row and had to settle for fourth as Cooper got his best TT result in fifth with Brookes doing the same in sixth. Riding the second KMR/IEG Kawasaki, he relegated Dunlop to seventh on the final lap with Cowton, Michael Sweeney and last year’s Manx Grand Prix winner Jamie Hodson rounding out the top ten.

Road racing – Hutchy claims second TT win of the week


Ian Hutchinson made it three Superstock wins in a row, and his second victory of this year’s Isle of Man TT races, when he dominated Wednesday’s race – his 16th TT wins in total.

The Tyco BMW rider led from start to finish to take the win from Peter Hickman by 22.4s while there was joy for the Manx contingent with Dan Kneen taking his maiden TT podium in third.

Riders were warned of cross winds at Crosby Hill and damp patches at Ginger Hall, Ramsey Hairpin and Hillberry ahead of the race.

Michael Rutter led through Glen Helen on the opening lap by one second from Hutchinson with Hickman only three tenths of a second further back. There was disappointment though for James Hillier who was an early retirement at Ballacraine.

By Ballaugh, Hutchinson had inched ahead and rounding Ramsey Hairpin for the first time, his advantage over Rutter was 1.3s. Hickman was still third a further 1.5s back as Kneen, Dean Harrison and Michael Dunlop rounded out the top six.

As they flashed past the Grandstand for the first time, an opening lap of 131.109mph gave Hutchinson a 4.5s lead over new second placed rider Hickman with Rutter now in third, only 0.17s behind his fellow BMW rider, but ahead of Kneen, Harrison and Dunlop. The first four riders all lapped in excess of 130mph, Kneen setting a new personal best lap, but Bruce Anstey, Conor Cummins and Gary Johnson all retired at the pits.

Through Glen Helen on lap two and the gap was down slightly to 4.1s as Hickman opened up a two-second margin over Rutter. Kneen was well in contention for the final podium spot being just 1.5s behind Rutter. Good rides were also coming from Jamie Coward in ninth and Shaun Anderson in tenth.

At the head of the field, and leading on the roads, Hutchinson was piling on the coals and by Ramsey he’d stretched his lead to a slightly more comfortable 7.8s over Hickman. Kneen was now in third though having turned his deficit to a 3.3s advantage over Rutter. Harrison and Dunlop remained in fifth and sixth.

Coming into the pit stop, Hutchinson had lapped at 130.673mph on his second lap and changed his rear wheel as well as making a slight change to his front suspension setting. His lead over Hickman was still only 6.7s with Kneen now 5.8s further back. Rutter had slipped to five seconds behind Kneen with Harrison and Dunlop still in fifth and sixth. Coward, the leading privateer, remained in ninth, with Horst Saiger in tenth.

Despite the wheel change, Hutchinson’s lead had doubled as he went through Glen Helen on lap three, the gap now 13.6s. Hickman, in turn, was over ten seconds clear of Kneen but Rutter, in fourth, was coming under extreme pressure from Dunlop, the difference between the two just 0.2s. Indeed, he’d nosed ahead by the time they reached Ballaugh Bridge.

Heading into the final lap, Hutchinson’s lead over Hickman was down slightly to 12.4s with Kneen holding onto a comfortable third but Rutter had gone back ahead of Dunlop by 3.5s.

There was to be no final lap drama for Hutchinson though and with the fastest lap of the race on the final lap, 131.639mph, he swept to yet another TT win from Hickman by a commanding 22.4s with Kneen making it an all BMW rostrum in third.

The battle for fourth went all the way but Rutter held on by 1.1s with Harrison overhauling Dunlop for fifth on the final run over the Mountain. William Dunlop took seventh as David Johnson, Coward and Saiger completed the top ten.
Hutchinson’s victory moved him to 61 points at the top of the Joey Dunlop Championship with Hickman still in second (56) and Michael Dunlop and Kneen up to joint third (35).

Meanwhile, Coward’s ninth place saw him be the first privateer home but Saiger’s tenth place has seen him extend his lead in the TT Privateer’s Championship. He has 58 points with Sam West (43) in second and Coward (38) third.