The Isle of Man TT Preview


Victory around the Isle of Man TT is considered to be the highest accolade a road racer can achieve and it’s not hard to see why. Each rider takes on a 37 3/4 mile course lined with brick walls, lampposts and trees, crossing a mountain en route. It’s the ultimate test of a riders race craft and bravery. The risks are real, the course has claimed the lives of 237 competitors since the first race in 1911 with four dying last year alone. Given the inherent risks, it seems incredible that John McGuiness averaged in excess of 130mph on route to the lap record around Snaefell Mountain in 2009. With seventy riders competing for victory, playing it safe is not an option if you want to win.

Schedule

PRACTICE WEEK
(All sessions scheduled to start at 6.20pm and end no later than 9pm. Schedules are subject to change)

Saturday, May 26
Solo Newcomers (all solo classes) Speed Controlled Lap
Lightweight/Newcomers (all solo classes) Qualifying
Sidecar Newcomer Speed Controlled Lap
Sidecar Free Qualifying

Monday, May 28
Superbike/Superstock/Supersport/Newcomers (except Lightweight) Qualifying
Sidecar Qualifying

Tuesday, May 29
Superbike/Superstock/Supersport/Newcomers (except Lightweight) Qualifying
Supersport/Lightweight/ Newcomers (all solo classes) Qualifying
Sidecar Qualifying

Wednesday, May 30
Superbike/Superstock/Supersport/Newcomers (except Lightweight) Qualifying
Sidecar Qualifying

Thursday, May 31
Superbike/Superstock/Supersport/Newcomers (except Lightweight) Qualifying
Supersport/Lightweight/Newcomers (all solo classes) Qualifying
Sidecar Qualifying

Friday, June 1
Superbike/Superstock/Supersport/ Newcomers (except Lightweight) Qualifying
Sidecar Qualifying

Saturday, June 2
11am – Dainese Superbike TT Race
2pm – Sure Sidecar TT Race 1
Supersport/Lightweight Qualifying

Monday, June 4
10.45am – Monster Energy Supersport TT Race 1
Sidecar Qualifying
2pm – Royal London 360 Superstock TT Race

Wednesday, June 6
10.45am – SES TT Zero Challenge
1pm – Monster Energy Supersport TT Race 2
3.15pm – Sure Sidecar TT Race 2
Senior Qualifying
Lightweight Qualifying

Friday, June 8
10.45am – BikerPetition.co.uk Lightweight TT Race
1.30pm – PokerStars Senior TT Race

Bikes

The Superbikes are the largest machines on the grid. 1000c behemoths that are usually confined to the world’s finest tracks are unleashed on the streets to bookend the festival. Victory in the senior TT is the most coveted of the prizes.

Supersport machines are the middleweights in the field, more nimble than their heavier cousins but with enough grunt to scare the leathers off the rider. There are two supersport races in 2012.

Superstock machines are essentially road going bikes with limited modifications.

Lightweight racing returns in the form of supertwin bikes. If you’re not on a Kawasaki in this class, you’re nowhere. Expect Farqhuar to dominate.

The TT Zero is the electric bike class that courted controversy when it launched in 2009. Since then the bikes have improved drastically and are now averaging around 100mph a lap. The big names are starting to appear on this emerging class and the trophy is becoming more and more coveted.

 

Contenders

The road racing fraternity is a curious gathering of passionate racers drawn to the challenges and dangers the course provides.

John McGuinness (Honda TT Legends/Padgetts Honda)

Only Joey Dunlop has won more races than McGuinness around the Isle of Man. Now the wrong side of 40 the ‘King of the Mountain’ is still considered to be the man to beat in the superbike class. He is the headline act on the best bikes in the field this year and will look to add to his 17 victories this year.

Simon Andrews (Honda TT Legends)

Andrews posted the second fastest time ever by a rookie in his first TT in 2010 earning a place alongside McGuinness in 2012. It takes multiple years to learn the course’s intricacies but Andrews has the talent to challenge the big boys. A podium finish may be beyond him but expect a few top 10 finishes from him.

Ian Hutchinson (Swan Yamaha)

Hutchinson swept the board in 2010 becoming the first man to record a perfect five victories before succumbing to a career threatening leg injury short circuit racing later in the year. Hutchison has raced just twice since last years TT with a rather disappointing performance at the NW200 suggesting there are still fitness concerns. It would be foolish to suggest that an eight time winner was incapable of winning but Hutchy certainly is an outsider in 2012.

Bruce Anstey (Padgett’s Honda Racing)

The New Zealander has been a fixture of the TT since 1996 but it was 2011 that offered his best performance. His switch from Suzuki to Honda saw him pick up three wins including pipping McGuinness to the Superbike title. Anstey is a ferocious competitor with 15 years experience making him one of the big threats in 2012

Gary Johnson (Padgett’s Honda Racing) (Gary Johnson Racing)

Johnson’s return to the TT in 2011 brought a win in the supersport class and a podium finish on the superbikes. Riding for a factory team will give him greater opportunities to reach the top step this year. He rides his own machine in the supersport team as he looks to defend his title. A strong performance in last month’s North West 200 also bodes well for the Yorkshireman.

Michael Rutter (Bathams Kawasaki)

A contender in the British Superbike Championship since the early 1990s; Rutter is a two time winner at the TT. A victory in the TT Zero last year and a record breaking 10th win at the Macau grand prix highlights Rutter’s pedigree. He will be sniffing around the top 5 again this year but a win in anything other than the supertwin class may be a little out of reach.

Guy Martin (Tyco Suzuki)

Guy Martin perennial underdog, fans favourite, film star and truck engineer. Despite multiple podiums Martin has yet to pick up a victory at either of the blue riband events on the road racing calendar (Northern Ireland’s NW200 being the other). Martin has spoken this week of his desire to climb Everest in the future. For next week however, his focus is on the Manx mountain as he finally looks to break his hoodoo.

Connor Cummins (Tyco Suzuki)

There are a number of similarities between the Tyco Suzuki teammates. Both start quickly and fade towards the end, both survived terrifying accidents in 2010 and both are still searching for their first TT victories despite multiple podiums. Cummins return to the 2011 TT was one of the more miraculous stories of last years Tourist Trophy. Cummins had suffered a broken back, amongst other injuries in an accident that literally threw him off the mountain a year earlier.  A second place in last year’s supersport race was an unexpected podium for a half-fit Cummins. This year he is in a far better position to secure victory.

Ryan Farquhar (KMR Racing Kawasaki)

Mr Supertwin brings his bikes to the IOM TT for the first time. He headed home a 1-2-3 for his own team in the inaugural NW200 version of the category and will be favourite to repeat the feat over the mountain with Rutter and rookie Jamie Hamilton on his other machines. A strong road racing performance this year and last saw him pick up the International Gold cup. He’ll be hard to beat on the lighter bikes and will be strong in all the other classes too.

Michael Dunlop (Hunts Motorcycles) (McAdoo Racing)

Being the son and nephew of road racing’s two biggest stars is bound to draw the eye of even the most casual fan but Michael Dunlop’s raw talent is something to behold. He already has two TT’s to his name after debuting in 2007 and has built a reputation as a fearsome competitor who gives no ground to his rivals. He is lack of a single backer means he has the best in class bikes available to him. He will race on Honda’s, Yamaha’s and Kawasaki’s at this years event an d given his determined nature and his consistency he may well be the man to beat.

Cameron Donald (Wilson Craig Honda)

The Australian was unlucky not to add to his two victories last year finishing within three seconds of McGuinness in the Superbike class after and hour and forty-five minutes racing. He suits the Honda bikes and will be a contender on the bigger machines again this year.

William Dunlop (Wilson Craig Honda)

The older brother of Michael William lacks the cutting edge around the mountain to be considered for a shot at victory. Having a teammate like Cameron Donald may advance his learning of the course this year though. He’ll feature frequently in and around the top 10 but is unlikely to add to his sole podium finish in 2009.

Adrian Archibald (AMR Racing Team)

Archibald has been a picture of consistency, showing well in both the NW200 and in last years TT. A third victory may be beyond him this year but he is certainly in with a shot of  a podium finish in 2012. He will ride on Kawasaki and Honda machinery at this years TT.

Ian Lougher (ILR Kawasaki) (Stewart Smith Racing)

A 10 time winner around the TT Lougher returns to the TT for the first time since 1998. It’ll be a big ask for the Welshman to make an impact on the podium at the age of 48 but it’s tough to write off a man with such a successful cv. Look for him to provide entertainment on the smaller bikes where fitness and fatigue are less limiting factors.

Rookies to watch

Karl Harris (SMT Honda)

Karl Harris has never made an appearance at the TT. He does however have 3 British Superstock titles, a European Superstock title and 7 years experience in the British Superbike Championship on factory bikes. 2012 might be a year of learning for him but Harris is a talented rider with the ability to shock the establishment.

Lee Johnston (East Coast Racing)

Three years experience in the British Supersport classes and a podium at the North West 200 will give Johnston confidence heading into his first TT. He will be a threat on the big bikes. He is a fast learner so expect to see him in the top 10 at least.

You can follow the Isle of Man TT Festival on twitter via @SportUpdatesUk and on ITV 4 (highlights packages shown at 9PM each night)

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Comments
One Response to “The Isle of Man TT Preview”
  1. selegiline says:

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