Isle of Man

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


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 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 – Martin makes shock return with Honda


Guy Martin is making a shock return to the roads after signing a deal to ride the all-new Fireblade for Honda.

Honda had offered a ‘name your price’ contract last year, but the Lincolnshire maverick refused the offer, asking instead for a RCV213. Honda UK asked Japan but were unable to come to an agreement and the deal was dead in the water.

Or so we thought. Now it seems Guy has agreed terms to ride a 2017 Fireblade at the TT, although no details have been revealed about which team he’s riding for – the Honda TT Legends team or the Wilson Craig team.

And after sitting out last season altogether he’s got a point to prove.

Road racing – fifteen things I’ve learnt about this year’s TT…

1) The superbikes at Ballaugh are spectacular

2) Ballacrye is sooooo fast

3) Bruce Anstey’s RCV sounds mean

4) The Norton sounds better

5) The Suter smells so, so good…but the sound was slightly underwhelming. The Paton on the other hand sounded like victory

6) Cam Donald’s best days may be behind him

7) The Irish can spend all day talking to you about how flat and smooth the road surface is

8) It’s illegal to overtake in double whites on the Mountain, even when the traffic is one way. Sorry officer.

9) Graham Hill and Jimmy Hill are brothers. Possibly. Then again…

10) The peanut butter cheesecake at the Forge in Santon is to die for

11) NEVER try and do a Michael Jackson joke 

12) It takes three women to make tea at the WI in Ballaugh…Caroline pours it, Jennifer stirs, and Gladys adds the milk. Tastes mighty fine too 

13) Fastest I saw on the clocks on the Mountain was 143…and didn’t get overtaken either 

14) Johnny Foreigner still loves a random over (and under) take 

15) The flies seem bigger this year

Road racing – Hutchy smashes 130mph lap during practice


DAVE KNEEN/PACEMAKER PRESS, BELFAST: 31/05/2016: Ian Hutchinson (BMW – Tyco BMW) at Rhencullen during qualifying for the Monster Energy Isle of Man TT.

With glorious conditions once more all across the island, qualifying on Tuesday evening for the 2016 Isle of Man TT Races, went ahead promptly at 6.20pm and Ian Hutchinson recorded the first 130mph lap of the week with his fourth lap of the night stopping the clocks at 130.63mph.

Unlike the previous evening, the session was split into two with the Superbikes, Superstocks and Supersports away first before the latter were joined at 7.25pm by the Lightweights.  Michael Rutter and Steve Mercer, both Supebike mounted, led the field away followed by Dan Stewart and Bruce Anstey, also electing to go out on their Superbikes, the latter again on the RCV213S.

As expected, all the front runners were prominent with Ian Hutchinson in the third pairing away alongside Dean Harrison, while Peter Hickman, John McGuinness and Michael Dunlop weren’t far behind.

Hutchinson was quickest through the speed trap at 196.8mph and the Tyco BMW rider set the fastest opening lap at 129.120 although he was only slightly quicker than starting partner Harrison who lapped at 129.022. Anstey improved to 127.37 whilst Conor Cummins, Mercer, McGuinness and Hickman all broke the 127mph barrier

William Dunlop had stopped at Quaterbridge on his Superbike but returned to the paddock and rejoined the action on his Superstock bike while brother Michael also ran into trouble, pulling off the circuit before making his own way back to the Grandstand. However, the Ulsterman didn’t rejoin the session until 7.30pm on his Supersport bike.

Hutchinson switched to his Superstock BMW but Hickman, McGuinness, Cummins and James Hillier all went straight through and McGuinness went quickest at 129.62mph although he was only a fraction ahead of Hickman’s lap of 129.55. Cummins was also in the 129s whilst Mercer set his best ever lap of the Mountain Course, albeit unofficially, at 128.55.

Anstey improved again to 128.98mph while last year’s triple race winner Hutchinson went to the top of the Superstock leaderboard with a lap of 128.723mph. Meanwhile, newcomer Jochem van den Hoek from Holland was showing well with a lap in excess of 115mph.

Rutter then went second quickest in the Superstock class after lapping at 128.43 but a lot of attention was focussing on Anstey’s third lap on the RCV with his sector times showing he as on a flyer. However, he lost time coming down the Mountain and crossed the line at 128.85mph but Hutchinson had switched back to his Superbike with a lap of 129.5mph before saving the best until last with his 130.63mph lap.

At 7.25pm, it was the turn of the Lightweights to join the Supersports on course and TT Rider Liaison Officer John Barton was first to leave the line. Italian Stefano Bonetti was initially the quickest rider with his lap on the Paton being 114.611mph with last year’s Manx Grand Prix winner Rob Hodson not far behind at 113.545mph. However, there were all upstaged by last year’s race winner Ivan Lintin who went comfortably clear at the top of the pack after a lap of exactly 118mph.

Martin Jessopp went second quickest at 114.871mph with Bonetti’s opening lap seeing him hold onto third. James Hillier slotted into fourth (114.482) with Hodson (114.049) and James Cowton (113.444) completing the top six. Rutter did his first lap on the SGS International/KMR Kawasaki at 113.342mph.

In the Supersport class, Anstey was quickest with a speed of 124.51mph just ahead of Harrison and Hutchinson whilst Michael Dunlop got two laps in on his R6 Yamaha, the quickest of which was a fraction above 123mph.

Frank Gallagher (32nd) and Kamil Holan (Cruickshanks) both came off their machines in the session but both were reported as unhurt.

Road racing – Anstey to race Honda’s RC213V-S


Clive Padgett continues to push the envelope at the TT, and to this end he has just dropped the bombshell that Bruce Anstey will be racing a Honda RC213V-S in this year’s Superbike and Senior races.

The bike, which Honda built as a road-legal version of Marc Marquez’s MotoGP bike, will be part of the Valvoline Racing by Padgett’s Motorcycles Team, and takes advantage of the Isle of Man TT’s looser homologation rules.

Straight out of the crate the Honda RC213V-S boasts 210bhp with the sport kit installed, and weighs just 177kg.

The Padgetts Honda squad has a wealth of experience on the roads, and even though the team has made some modifications for road racing, nobody is sure how the bike will hold up on the rugged mountain course. One thing is for sure though, if anyone can make the RC213V-S work, it is Padgetts.

Clive Padgett said: “It has been a very difficult project to pull together. We have had to beef the bike up for the TT course and we can’t get anything off the shelf so everything has had to be made bespoke. Things like the wheels, the K-Tech forks, the rear shocks, the brakes and the radiator guards have all had to be specially made.”

Pilot Bruce Anstey said: “The RCV should be an absolute weapon because it has loads of power but it feels as nimble as a 600. It should be stable too as it’s over two inches longer than a Fireblade but is still really small and compact. I am really looking forward to seeing how it handles through the quick corners because it will be able to turn so fast.

“It has always been a dream of mine to ride a MotoGP bike at the TT and this is as close as I will ever get. Clive is the only person in the world who could put something like this together and if he says it is OK I am with him 100%.  He hasn’t just pulled it out of the crate and said we are racing it. Clive and the team have done a lot of work to the bike to make it ready for the TT.”

So a RC213V-S and a Suter 500 two-stroke will be competing in the same race. It should be one to remember.

Road racing – Honda signs TT deal


(Dave Kneen/Pacemaker Press) 14/4/2016: Isle of Man TT Travelling marshals will be provided with Honda bikes for the 2016 Isle of Man TT.

Honda is the new motorcycle partner for the 2016 Isle of Man TT Races, ammove which will see the manufacturer provide a fleet of CBR1000RR Fireblades to be used by the travelling marshals throughout qualifying and racing at the 2016 meeting.

Honda’s association with the Isle of Man TT Races can be traced back to 1954 when founder Soichiro Honda made his famous TT Races declaration ‘to participate in the TT races’ and to ‘pour in all of my energy and creative powers to win.’  The company made its first appearance in the 1959 TT Races, winning its first race in 1962.

Honda has the most race wins by a manufacturer with over 250 victories, the most recent of which was the closing race of the 2016 Isle of Man TT Races, the Senior TT, when John McGuinness clinched his 23rd TT race win, breaking the outright lap record in the process.

Travelling Marshals were first used in the 1935 TT Races. The marshals are positioned around the 37¾ mile course and are able to provide a rapid response to any incidents. All of the bikes carry medical equipment that can assist in managing a casualty. They also carry out duties such as course inspection, observe machines on the course for visible faults and review and report any course incidents.

The Travelling Marshals have previous race experience of the Mountain Course, having competed in either the TT or the Manx Grand Prix. The current team has eight Manx Grand Prix wins and a TT podium between them and all of them are first aid trained to a high level and play a vital role in the Isle of Man TT races safety programme, which relies on fast responses.


Road racing – Cam Donald returns to Wilson Craig for TT assault


Two time TT winner Cameron Donald has rejoined Wilson Craig Racing for the 2016 road racing season.

His move back to the team he competed for between 2011 and 2013 marks the end of his disappointing two-year campaign with Norton.

The hard charging Donald, who has ten TT podiums to his name, was delighted with the move. He said: “I’ve signed with Wilson again to race at the front of the Superbike field. He’s always prepared great bikes for me and I’m really comfortable with the team and see Wilson as a friend.

“I know that I can still win races on the Isle of Man and riding for Wilson Craig Racing will give me every chance to have a go for the top spot in the big bike class as well as the other races.”

Wilson Craig Racing team owner, Wilson Craig, was equally confident the move would see his team fighting for honours. He said: “It’s no secret that I’ve always wanted to win a Superbike Race at the Isle of Man TT and with Cameron Donald we’ve undoubtedly got a chance to win one.

“We’ve got a real affinity with Cameron and he’s always been consistently challenging in every class when he’s raced for us.”

The move will see Donald back on Honda machinery in the Superbike, Superstock, Supersport and Senior races.

Donald has languished in the midfield during his time at Norton, but there’s no mistaking he has the pace to run at the front, having won the 2008 Superbike and Superstock TT races, as well as being the first man to break the 131mph lap time, albeit unofficially, during practice week at the TT in 2009, he became the first rider to lap in excess of 131 mph.

Road racing – fastest ever line up for TT Superbike races


PACEMAKER, BELFAST, 7/6/2015: John McGuinness leads the Superbike race off the line on the Glencrutchery Road today on his Honda Racing Fireblade. PICTURE BY STEPHEN DAVISON

This year’s TT races promises to see some of the fastest racing in the competition’s history, with the top 20 seeded riders all having lapped comfortably over 127mph.

Honda Racing’s John McGuinness is again the man leading the field away with the number one plate. The 23-time TT race winner has re-established himself as the ‘King of the Mountain’ with last year’s stunning Senior TT victory and new outright lap record of 132.701mph (17:03.567).

He will be followed by the flying Kiwi Bruce Anstey, the rider who with the exception of 2010, when he started at number one, has had the number five plate every year since 2004.

James Hillier, one of last year’s stars, moves back a place to number three on the Quattro Plant Muc-Off Kawasaki, while there’s also change at four with last year’s triple race winner Ian Hutchinson moving up the order from his 2015 starting position. The Bingley Bullet has switched to the Tyco BMW for 2016 and takes over the number that he had in 2010 when he won five races from five starts.

Ten seconds behind him is another of last year’s revelations and another potential race winner in the shape of Peter Hickman. The eighth fastest rider of all time will line up on the JG Speedfit Kawasaki and has the ideal target in front of him in Hutchinson, although he could well be occupied with the rider starting behind him – Michael Dunlop.

After a problematical 2015 TT campaign, Dunlop is back at the start number that saw him claim a hat-trick of 1000cc wins in both 2013 and 2014 and he will be hoping that it proves to be a lucky six.

Previous two time Supersport TT Race winner Gary Johnson will again have the number seven plate, this time on the BMW, and will be followed down Glencrutchery Road by William Dunlop (CD Racing Yamaha) and the evergreen Michael Rutter (Bathams/SMT Racing BMW). As in previous years, Manxman Conor Cummins completes the top ten on the second Honda Racing machine.

Just behind the popular Manxman will be Cameron Donald, who will be number 11 on the road. The Australian took second in the Superbike race for three successive years between 2011-2013 and the Adelaide based rider will again look to be back up at the front of the field on his return to Wilson Craig Racing.

Silicone Engineering is a new team among the seeded outfits in the number 12 spot but it’s familiar territory for rider Dean Harrison who starts one position ahead of Lee Johnston on board the East Coast Construction BMW. Dan Kneen on the Mar-Train Racing Yamaha starts ten seconds later with Australian ace David Johnson completing the top 15 on the factory Norton.

Going off at 16 will be Ryan Farquhar, who rides the second Tyco BMW. Dan Stewart (Wilcock Consulting Honda), Martin Jessopp (Riders Motorcycles BMW), Steve Mercer (Jackson Racing Honda) and last year’s Bennetts Lightweight TT winner Ivan Lintin who’s amongst the Superbike seeds for the first time on the Devitt RC Express Racing Kawasaki, complete the top twenty.