Road racing

Road racing – McGuinness suffers injury setback

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Roads racing ace John McGuinness has revealed that he has had a set-back in his recovery from the broken leg he sustained in an accident at last year’s North West 200.

The 23-time TT winner, who recently signed for Norton after years of racing for Honda, broke his right tibia and fibular last year when he was thrown from his Honda Fireblade at the North West 200 course following a problem with the machine’s ECU.

He had been making good progress in his recovery and was hoping to get his first ride on the Norton SG7 V4-RR this month, but he has revealed he’s suffered a ‘set-back’ – on Twitter he posted: “Not sure what to say, unfortunately my leg has had a bit of a set-back. Sorry I’ve not said sooner, I’ve just been trying to get my head around it all first. To say I’m gutted is an understatement.”

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Road racing – Flying Kiwi to miss the 2018 season through illness

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Bruce Anstey is set to miss the 2018 road racing season as he battles illness, his partner has revealed.

The 48-year-old has ‘multiple tumours in his lungs and a tumour on his spine’ as well as a blood clot on the lung, meaning he is highly unlikely to take part in any form of racing this season as he focuses on recovery, but his long-term partner Anny Ramsey refuses to rule the flying Kiwi out of racing in 2018 altogether.

“Unfortunately, Brucey has become ill,” Ramsey posted on her Facebook page. “He has multiple tumours in his lungs, a tumour on his spine, and a blood clot on the lung just to kick him while he’s down.

“I doubt very much Bruce will see any racing this year, but we won’t rule that out lol! He is waiting for a treatment plan and should be starting it very soon. I will try to keep you all updated.”

Get well soon Bruce, wishing you a speedy recovery.

Road racing – Michael Dunlop signs for Tyco BMW

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Michael Dunlop has signed a deal with Tyco BMW to ride one of the team’s Superbikes at the North West 200, Isle of Man TT and Ulster Grand Prix.

Dunlop’s decision means he will be a team-mate of fellow Northern Irishman Alastair Seeley at the North West 200 in May.

Confirming the news, Dunlop admitted his relationship with the Tyco team has not always been cordial.

“Everything has been hot headed and hasn’t been plain sailing,” he said.

“Local lads, local team and it’s very easy to be seen as feisty the last few years between me and the team.

“Tyco BMW and I have spoken many times but nothing ever came of it, but this year everything fell into place. At the end of the day I want to do a job, they want a job done so it’s very very simple. I think it’s a good time for us both to work together and I think both of us can bring something to the table. I’m looking forward to seeing the outcome. We will make a package and make it right.“

Dunlop added that he has worked hard on his fitness in the off-season and “intends to break laps records” on the Tyco Superbike.

“I am more fired up that I ever was and make a point,” said the Ballymoney man, whose 15 Isle of Man TT victories have included five Superbike wins.

Tyco team manager Philip Neill said the partnership with Dunlop “simply had to happen at some point”.

“My father and I, together with all the guys at TAS Racing, are excited and looking forward to the challenge,” added Neill.

Earlier this month Dunlop announced he wouldn’t be racing a Suzuki for the Hawk Racing Team with whom he has enjoyed major Superbike success.

Dunlop will compete in this year’s international road races in the Superstock and Supersport classes on his own MD Racing team’s bikes.

The Northern Irishman holds the outright lap record at the Isle of Man TT and his success in the Senior race in 2017 took his tally of victories at the event to 15.

Dunlop is currently fourth on the all-time solo winners’ list around the 37.7-mile Mountain Course, 11 behind his late uncle, and record holder, Joey Dunlop.

On top of his Senior TT success in 2017, Dunlop also claimed a win in the Supersport class at the Isle of Man meeting, as well as taking the chequered flag at the North West 200 in the same class.

Isle of Man rider Dan Kneen will also ride a Tyco BMW Superbike in the three major international road races meetings.

Road racing – McPint signs for Norton for 2018 TT assault

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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…

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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

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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.