Road racing

Road racing – Brookes to race Supertwins at TT

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Josh Brookes has secured another ride at this year’s Isle of Man TT after agreeing to ride for Ryan Farquhar’s IEG/KMR Kawasaki team in the Lightweight class.

The Australian will be making his Supertwins debut and will ride the bike earmarked for Hudson Kennaugh, who has withdrawn from the meeting.

Brookes joins fellow road racing stalwarts Lee Johnston, Peter Hickman and Danny Webb who are also riding KMR Supertwins.

Brookes, who lies fourth in the British Superbike series, will ride a Norton in the Superbike and Senior TT races.

The bike the 2015 British Superbike champion will ride is the one that Michael Rutter took to first and second places in the Supertwins races at the North West 200.

Team boss Ryan Farquhar said: “When Hudson withdrew from the North West 200 and TT, my immediate focus was on the North West and Michael Rutter did an absolutely brilliant job to take a race win after stepping in at the last minute.

“Michael had already agreed to ride the Paton at the TT though so he wasn’t available, but having had tentative talks with Josh over the winter, I’m now delighted to welcome him on board.

“Having a ride of that pedigree riding for KMR is a terrific coup and I’m really looking forward to working with him.”

“We were a little bit down on top speed at the North West but Michael showed what the bike was capable of, particularly in the handling department, and with four incredibly talented riders on the KMR Kawasakis, we’re confident of having a good TT.”

Road racing – record breaking Seeley shines at NW200, Irwin claims debut blue riband win

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It was a day of records at the prestigious International North West 200 road racing event in Northern Ireland, with local rider Alastair Seeley taking his win tally to an incredible 21 victories as he claimed four wins in the week for the first time in his career.

Local hero Seeley, from Carrickfergus, was in imperious form throughout qualifying, setting pole position in the Supersport and Superstock classes whilst Michael Rutter lined up first in the Superbike division.

Under clear blue skies, Thursday night saw the traditional start to proceedings with the first Supersport, Superstock and Supertwins events. Martin Jessopp took his first ever International road race victory in the 600cc class which he later followed up in the lightweight Supertwins outing. Seeley, or The ‘Wee Wizard’, as he is affectionately known, took the Superstock victory on his Tyco BMW S1000RR with a dominant 12 second win and logged up a new lap record in the process.

Saturday was very different with overnight rain seeing a delay to proceedings. It was the second Supersport race which kicked the action off, and picking up where he left off on Thursday it was Seeley who cruised to victory by over 4 seconds.

With rain arriving as the Superbikes took to the grid, a lengthy delay ensued with the race eventually getting underway over a shortened race distance of four laps and on a wet track. The ‘Wee Wizard’ was in imperious form throughout the race to claim the win by over 21 seconds ahead of fellow Metzeler rider Rutter. Rutter would be able to go one better in the following Supertwin race however, returning to the top step of the podium to become the third most successful rider in North West 200 history. Thursday night race winner Jessopp finished third. The second Superstock race was red flagged with rain arriving mid-way through the race, giving Tyco BMW and Alastair Seeley another victory with Rutter third.

As the circuit dried, the scene was set for an epic finale; the seven lap North West 200 Superbike race. It did not disappoint as Seeley, Ian Hutchinson and Glenn Irwin battled throughout in a series of audacious overtakes. British Superbike young star Irwin took his maiden victory with some style in front of his local fans.

Road racing – McGuinness update

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The full extent of John McGuinness’ injuries have been revealed following his crash during practice at the NW200.

The veteran broke his leg but has also been diagnosed with four broken vertebrae and has three broken back ribs. The injuries mean he will remain at Royal Victoria Hospital for around one week as part of the recuperation process and will wear a cast for up to six weeks in treatment for the vertebrae.

Honda Racing has received McGuinness’ Fireblade from the race organisers and will perform a detailed analysis of the bike and ECU data at its headquarters in Louth to work out why the bike’s throttle stuck open – as a result, the team has withdrawn from the Superstock and Superbike races at the North West 200.

The team will next be on track at Castle Combe in a couple of weeks’ time as part of its preparation for the Isle of Man TT.

Jonny Twelvetrees, team manager, said: “Unfortunately John’s incident at Primrose Hill during qualifying has resulted in quite a substantial injury to his right Tibia and Fibula. It is a real blow to John and the team, but he’s got an incredible amount of spirit and is in very good hands with the medical staff at the Royal Victoria Hospital.

“We now need to determine what happened and will sit out the Superstock and Superbike races, get back to Louth to analyse John’s bike and re-group ahead of our next test at Castle Combe in a couple of weeks before we head to the Isle of Man.”

Road racing – jammed throttle costs McGuinness and Honda dear at NW200

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A stuck throttle saw John McGuinness lose control of his Fireblade at the NW200, with the veteran crashing out of the Superbike practice session and breaking his leg in the process.

The technical gremlin struck as McGuinness entered Primrose corner, and the 43-year-old was taken to the Royal Victoria Hospital with a suspected broken right leg.

He has since had his tib and fib plated and will miss this year’s Isle of Man TT.

The crash has also played havoc with Guy Martin’s pre-TT preparations. The Lincolnshire maverick was using the NW200 as a practice for the TT, but his Honda Racing team withdrew Martin from the Superstock race on safety grounds.

The news marked a miserable opening to the NW200 for Honda – Bruce Anstey also withdrew from the Superstock race as ‘he wasn’t comfortable on the bike’.

Road racing – Martin gels with new Honda CBR1000RR SP2

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Lincolnshire road racing maverick Guy Martin has had his first taste of the new CBR1000RR SP2 as he continues his preparations for his return to road racing with the factory backed Honda Racing outfit.

The Kirmington lad joined team-mate John McGuinness for the shakedown at Castle Combe, and while Martin seemed to gel with the new Fireblade, an impressive feat considering he has switched rubber from Metzeler to Dunlop, McGuinness suffered a broken thumb after crashing on the second day of testing.

Honda Racing boss Neil Tuxworth said: “The bikes arrived later than expected and good progress is being made getting them ready to race. Considering the mechanics were still working on them the night before the test we are very happy with where we are.

“With the road bikes running kit ignition they are easier to set up than the BSB racebikes which run on Motech systems. We will come back to Castle Combe for another test in a few weeks’ time and that will be important as both bikes will be running full spec.”

 

Road racing – Hickman and Webb join KMR Kawasaki squad

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KMR Kawasaki will have a four-man team for this year’s Lightweight TT race with Peter Hickman and Danny Webb joining Lee Johnston and Hudson Kennaugh in Ryan Farquhar’s team.

The quartet will all ride identically-prepared ER6 650cc Kawasaki’s in the four-lap race as triple TT winner Farquhar goes all out to claim victory in the race he won himself back in 2012.

Hickman will be making his debut in the race having withdrawn last year after being scheduled to ride the John Burrows BEE Cookstown Kawasaki and will be among the pre-race favourites, as will team-mate Johnston. He previously rode for Farquhar’s team at the 2015 Isle of Man TT and, after lapping at close to 119mph, was lying in a podium position before retiring on the final lap.

Webb will be making his fourth successive appearance in the race – all of which have been for Farquhar’s team. His debut in 2014 saw him finish in a credible 14th place and he went quicker still in 2015, lapping in excess of 115mph on his way to claiming an excellent tenth place and his first silver replica.

South African Kennaugh competed in the Lightweight TT race in 2015 where he was running on the edge of the top ten before a spill at Braddan Bridge in the closing stages ended his race.

With Johnston and Hickman expected to be challenging for the race win and Webb and Kennaugh strong candidates for top ten positions, it promises to be an exciting race for KMR Kawasaki and while Farquhar is naturally disappointed not to be riding himself, he’s excited about his team’s prospects.

 

Road racing – double TT winner Gary Johnson to run own team for 2017

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Double Supersport TT race winner Gary Johnson will run his own team at this year’s TT.

The Lincolnshire lad, who is still searching for a title sponsor, will run the all-new GSX-R Suzuki in the Superbike, Senior and Superstock races, and will continue to campaign Triumphs in the two Supersport races having purchased the East Coast Construction bikes used by Lee Johnston in 2016.

Johnson said: “I’m feeling as strong as I’ve felt over the last few years and although it’s a massive undertaking to run my own team, I’m really focused on the job ahead and determined to make my mark this year. I’ve got a great bunch of lads supporting me and I’m looking forward to giving it a good go this year.”

A front-runner now for a decade, Johnson took victory in the opening Supersport race in 2014 for the Smiths Racing Triumph team, adding to his win in the second 600cc encounter in 2011.

The 36-year old, who made his Mountain Course debut in 2007, has four more podiums to his name, the most recent of which came in the first Supersport race in 2015 when riding for Mar-Train Racing Yamaha. He has also stood on the podium in the 2009 Senior TT, 2011 Superbike TT and the 2014 Superstock race.

Last year saw him enjoy another successful week on the Island, taking fourth in the Lightweight and fifth in the Superstock races, and he now has 30 silver and four bronze replicas in his collection.

Riding the Penz13.com BMW, 2016 saw Johnson set a new personal best lap of the 37.73-mile course with a speed of 130.945mph in the Senior, which currently makes him the 12thfastest rider of all time around the Mountain Course.

Road racing – Cummins signs for Padgetts squad

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The Padgetts Honda Racing team will have a two-pronged attack for 2017, with Conor Cummins joining 11-times TT winner Bruce Anstey at the Batley-based squad.

The Manxman will ride the latest-spec Honda CBR1000RR and Honda CBR600RR for one of the most experienced, and most successful, teams on the grid.

Cummins said: “What Clive Padgett and the team don’t know about racing on the Isle of Man isn’t worth knowing.  He’s assembled a great group around him and I really enjoyed racing with the team last year – it just felt right.  I’m looking forward to representing the team in all of this year’s races and I’m looking forward to repaying Clive’s faith in me.”

The move comes on the back of Cummins having a successful outing for the team at last year’s TT after a last minute deal saw him contest the Superstock and two Supersport races. Riding the then Valvoline-liveried machines, he took an excellent fourth in the opening Supersport race and backed this up with seventh in the second, repeating the latter result in the Superstock race.

He also posted new personal best laps on those particular machines with 126.620mph and 129.739mph in the Supersport and Superstock classes respectively. Cummins, who has ridden for the official Honda Racing team for the last three years, also enjoyed successful meetings for the team at the Classic TT and Ulster Grand Prix.

2017 will be the Ramsey-based rider’s 12th year of competing in his home event and as well as a change in teams, there’s also a change in his starting position this year. After eight years with the number ten plate, the now 30-year old moves up the order in 2017, starting at number seven, ten seconds behind Michael Dunlop and ten ahead of the returning Guy Martin.

The eighth fastest rider of all time with a lap of 131.767mph, Cummins has taken six podiums during his TT career, the last of which came in 2014 when he took second and third respectively in the Senior and Superbike races and he’ll be hoping a complete switch to Clive Padgett’s family orientated team will propel back onto the rostrum this time around.

Racer’s Kit – double TT winner Ivan Lintin shares his kit wisdom

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Roads ace Ivan Lintin, 31, from Bardney in Lincolnshire, has bikes running through his blood.

He cut his teeth competing in speedway and sand racing before switching to the British Supermoto Championship at 19. It was a baptism of fire, and in his first season the young Lintin broke his collarbone three times.

After a period of recovery, 2006 saw Lintin turn his attention to circuit racing, and he won his first race after just two races, eventually finishing second in one championship, and third in another.

The following season saw him win his first pure road race championship – the Irish 250cc – 400cc support class – and that led to him signing for a factory supported team, RC Express Racing, where he competes on the national and international road racing circuit.

He won his first TT in 2015, the lightweight race, and won the same race a year later. He also won the NW200 Supertwins race, setting a new lap record for the class at 109.304mph in the process.

He suffered a brutal off at Oliver’s Mount last July, losing part of his ring finger in the process, so he knows what works, and just as importantly, what doesn’t. Here he shares his kit wisdom, to ensure you get the best you can afford.

HELMET: “For the coming season I will be using the new AGV Carbon Pista – it is the flagship model of AGV (see New Kit section) and comes with a built-in hydration system.

“During the 2016 season I used two different helmets during different parts of the season – the AGV Corsa and the AGV Pista. The difference is basically the venting and the weight, with the Pista being the lighter of the two thanks to its carbon shell. Racing in any TT race takes it out of you, but your neck takes a right buffeting with you head basically being ripped off your shoulders at 190mph all the time. Them few grams of weight helps combat that a little.

“If you buy a new helmet from an official dealer they will normally offer you a fitting service where you try on different sizes, and they’ll adjust the internal padding to get the perfect fit – this will make the whole experience of riding your road bike or race bike that much better, allowing you to focus on the road.”

LEATHERS: “Until the 2015 season I used off-the-peg RST suits, all of which were crashed in and survived the season racing without any repairs or issues – it just proves how good their base level race suits are.

“I now wear made-to-measure factory suits and my suits for next season are the RST kangaroo – they’re lighter than cow hide and more supple. They fit like a glove and once you have them bedded in they’re all-day comfy.

“Last season I had a massive crash at the end of the back straight at Oliver’s Mount at 160mph, sliding more than 250 yards on the tarmac. The leathers stayed intact, and the only injury I suffered was a graze on my hip and elbow which was more heat burn than anything else.

“Leathers are something that you don’t always see people wearing on the road, and I know if the worst was to happen I would want to be wearing a set. Try different sizes and models on and find something that fits nicely both on and off the bike. Don’t be afraid if they’re a little tight when you buy them new –leathers bed in a lot, sometimes up to 10%. A little trick I have used to expand a specific part of the suit (mine was an issue around my knees at the TT) is to put a motorcycle inner tube into the problem area, blow it up and leave overnight. You will be surprised how much space can be made doing that.”

GLOVES: “Safety is paramount, but comfort is important too. In pure road racing good knuckle protection is vital. When you’re in the pack at the NW200 or Ulster GP, you’re basically getting shot blasted with stones. If one of them hits your knuckle without carbon or metal protection you certainly know about it.

“I have worn RST Track Tech Evo and Pro series gloves for longer than I can remember, they offer everything I require. They’re comfy when there bedded in and offer that vital knuckle protection. They also have the little finger sewn to the ring finger so in the event of a crash your little finger doesn’t get torn about as much.

“Going into the 2017 season I will have a special glove made with a shortened ring finger following the off at Scarborough, which resulted in it being amputated.”

BOOTS: “Boots are another piece of safety equipment some road riders overlook – your ankles won’t last long sliding along the tarmac at 60mph, so boots are as important for road riders as they are for racers.

“In the racing world I always look for a very rigid boot to stop the twisting that would brake your ankle in a crash. When I started out I wore Daytona boots as they were the most rigid, but now the other manufactures have caught up and I use the RST Pro Series boot. It allows free movement for gear changes and rear braking but limited twisting, so if you have a nasty off with your legs flying about you’re not going to break your ankle.”

BACK AND CHEST PROTECTOR: “I only used to wear a back protector as chest protectors are not the most comfy thing in the world. The say you learn from your mistakes and I had a crash in 2014 at the Southern 100, a first corner pile-up. I ran into the rear of another bike at about 30mph with my chest. I badly bruised my sternum and felt like I was winded for about three weeks.

“I was not wearing one that day – whether or not it would have saved me from the injury I don’t know, but now I wear one without fail and haven’t had a chest injury since.

“I would recommend one to any road rider because it could save you a lot of pain. When choosing either try them on to check how comfy they are and try get a longer back protector as it will offer the most protection.”

Road racing – Michael Dunlop ditches BMW for Suzuki for 2017 season

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Michael Dunlop is set to race the all-new GSX-R1000 in 2017, with the 13-time Isle of Man TT winner signing for the new-look Bennetts Suzuki team for the forthcoming season.

Dunlop will race the new machine at the TT, the North West 200, the Southern 100 and the Ulster Grand Prix road races, as well as contesting the opening round of the BSB championship at Donington Park in April.

The 2016 Superbike and Senior TT winner and current out-right lap-record holder has already tested the bike at shakedown test at the team’s Mallory Park, and heads to Spain for more tests at Cartagena and Almeria.

Dunlop said: “I was chatting with team manager Steve Hicken for a while, and obviously we’ve worked together a lot before. With the new bike coming it’s been a bit different and we had to gather up exactly what was happening. We just needed to see what was going to be able to happen and to see where we were both going to be at this time. I know Steve and I know Stuart though, as people, and I know they can take a new bike and get it right. This is a good team and there’s a good link with Yoshimura. It’s going to be interesting this year. I’ve been helping the team build my own bikes and it’ll be good to have a run around at Mallory for a shakedown before we go to Spain.”

Bennetts Suzuki team manager, Steve Hicken, said: “We’ve made good progress already with the development of the new GSX-R1000, and we know the potential is there with the bike. With a proven winner like Michael onboard, there’s no reason we can’t be winning races right away. That’s got to be the aim.”

The Bennetts Suzuki team now heads to Cartagena for the first of two preseason tests, before the first official BSB test at Donington Park on 22 March.