Road racing

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.

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.

Road racing – Martin signs for Factory Honda squad

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The fastest man to never win a TT has signed to race a new Fireblade for the Factory Honda outfit.

Martin was in talks with Neil Tuxworth to ride for Honda last year, with Honda desperate to see Martin on their machinery in 2016. Sources close to Martin revealed that the star was told he could name his price, but it isn’t money that drives Martin and he told Tuxworth so. Instead of a fat pay cheque, Martin said he’d race for nothing, so long as he could race the RCV, the road-going version of Marc Marquez’s bike.

Tuxworth left and contacted HRC, but the answer from the Japanese factory was that a road racing RCV wasn’t a possibility. And thus the talks between Tuxworth and Martin broke down.

However, Tuxworth believes Martin is the perfect rider to partner John McGuinness and continued to push the maverick truck mechanic to sign for his Honda Legends road racing squad.

Martin said: Neil [Tuxworth] has been talking to me for a while about joining the team, but I had a lot of thinking to do before I committed and said yes. I spent a lot of time on my push bike to and from work, thinking about what to do. I didn’t want to grow old regretting not giving the Honda a go, and the more time passes since making the decision, the more time I’ve thought it is the right decision.

“Honda is a great team and the Fireblade has always been a weapon on the roads, so with the new bike, I‘m keen to give it a go. We’ve got a busy testing schedule coming up and I’ve put some other stuff off to make time. John [McGuinness] is the man, I’ve got massive respect for him and I’m looking forward to racing on the Fireblade against him.”

The deal will see Martin ride the new Honda Fireblade in both the Superstock and Superbike races at the TT, and is also set to compete at the North West 200, Ulster GP, Southern 100 and some Irish meetings in the coming year.

Signing for the Factory Honda teams means Martin will ditch the spanners and focus solely on riding the new Fireblade, which may just free enough head space to allow him to take his maiden TT win.

It’s a big ask though – the bike is unproven. Watch this space…

 

 

Racing – Smiths Racing signs Hickman for roads and BSB assault

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Gloucester-based Smiths Racing BMW has signed 29-year-old Peter Hickman for the 2017 roads and BSB season.

Lincolnshire lad Hickman will be riding alongside fellow Yellowbelly Lee Jackson, who will also be racing a Smiths Racing BMW S1000RR in BSB.

Hickman said: “I have another new challenge to look forward to again this season and I’m relishing it aboard the Smiths Racing BMW. All the dealings I’ve had with the team so far have been fantastic and they are very easy to work with. I know the BMW well having ridden it in the past and we’ve been promised the right support from the factory in Germany, which will make a difference. I’m pleased to be bringing my own crew into the team which is a massive bonus so I’m really looking forward to the season in both BSB and on the roads with Smiths Racing.”

Hickman made his TT debut in 2014 for the Ice Valley BMW team, taking a best finish of eighth in the Superstock race while he also won silver replicas for 11th place in the Senior and 14th Superbike races, which were enough to land him the prestigious Newcomers Trophy – his fastest lap of 129.104mph remains the fastest ever lap recorded by a Mountain Course newcomer.

Continuing with BMW machinery in 2015, this time for Lee Hardy Racing, Hickman took fifth in the Superstock race, seventh in the Senior and eighth in the Superbike races to win three more silver replicas, improving his best lap to 131.626mph in the process.

A switch to the GBMoto Kawasaki team in 2016 saw him take an excellent fourth place in the Superbike race where he lapped at 132.465mph to become the fourth fastest rider of all time.

He also won two MCE BSB races last season on his way to winning the Rider’s Cup title as well as taking victory at the Ulster Grand Prix and defending his Macau Grand Prix title. Very much in demand as one of the sport’s great all-rounders, Peter returns to the BMW marque with which he’s enjoyed so much success in the past.

 

 

Road racing – Martin wanted RCV ride for 2016 TT

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Speculation continues to surround Guy Martin, with media channels across the globe wondering whether we will see the maverick road racer between the hedges in 2017.

Many are suggesting the fastest man to never win a TT has done with the roads for good, his huge off at the UlsterGP in 2015 proving to be the crash that broke the camel’s back.

However, we can reveal that the world’s fastest truck mechanic was in talks with Neil Tuxworth to ride for Honda last year, with Honda desperate to see Martin on their machinery in 2016.

Sources close to Martin revealed that the star was told he could name his price, but it isn’t money that drives Martin and he told Tuxworth so. Instead of a fat pay cheque, Martin said he’d race for nothing, so long as he could race the RCV, the road-going version of Marc Marquez’s bike.

Tuxworth left and contacted HRC, but the answer from the Japanese factory was that a road racing RCV wasn’t a possibility. And thus the talks between Tuxworth and Martin broke down.

But we did see an RCV ridden in anger at the TT after Clive Padgett prepared a privately-owned bike for Bruce Anstey, and the flying Kiwi finished eighth in the Superbike race on the MotoGP-inspired V4. Would Martin have fared any better? Let the discussions begin…

So Martin may not be racing on the roads anytime soon, but should a team offer him a left field choice, then the answer my just be a resounding YES.

 

 

Road racing – ­Lintin and Mercer line up for RC Express Racing in 2017

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RC Express Racing has announced that double Isle of Man TT Race winner Ivan Lintin will again spearhead the team’s assault on the International road races in 2017 where he’ll be joined by new team-mate Steve Mercer.

Having won the Bennetts Lightweight TT Race for the past two seasons, Lincolnshire’s Lintin will attempt to take an unprecedented treble of victories in the class around the Mountain Course.  This will be the Bardney-based rider’s third year with the team as the talented 32-year–old seeks to build upon his previous success.

Mercer joins the Bristol-based team having deputised for the injured Lintin at this year’s 2016 Ulster Grand Prix, who was recovering from injuries sustained in an incident at Oliver’s Mount. The Kent-based rider immediately demonstrated his adaptability on Kawasaki machinery, securing eighth and ninth in the two superbike races as well as setting his best ever lap around the high speed 7.4 mile Dundrod Circuit at a superb 131.423mph.

Ivan Lintin said: “The confidence that I have in the RC Express Supertwin and the overall performance of the bike and team, has shown with our dominance this season. Defending the title at the TT this year did carry some pressure, but having achieved that win I feel confident that next season will actually be somewhat easier. I am continually improving with the bike, strengthening my performance as a rider and I can only see us building upon our success in 2017 and more specifically dominating on the Supertwin.”

“It was disappointing that I couldn’t go for the treble at the Ulster Grand Prix but unfortunately the recovery to my injured finger was just not complete. We’ll certainly be aiming to put that one right next year..”

Steve Mercer said: “I’m absolutely thrilled to be joining the RC Express Racing team for 2017. Having stood in at the last minute for Ivan at this year’s Ulster Grand Prix, there was an immediate connection with the entire team and with so much energy surrounding the operation, it made me feel very relaxed riding the bike, which showed with my results and lap times, including a personal best lap around Dundrod.”

“We struck up a conversation at the recent Macau Grand Prix and soon agreed a deal and it’s a great opportunity for 2017 to build myself as a rider with an aspirational, successful and growing team. If I can be part of this future growth and some of the plans that have been proposed, it makes this one of the most appealing periods of my racing career.”

RC Express will commence their pre-season preparations with Spanish testing at the start of 2017. With a continued relationship on Kawasaki machinery for 2017, the team will open their campaign at Oliver’s Mount for the Spring Cup in April and the North West 200 in May followed by the Isle of Man TT in June.

For the complete 2017 race schedule please visit http://www.rcexpressracing.co.uk