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 Duke Says TT Should Go Ahead

Motorcycle racing legend Geoff Duke believes this year's TT should go ahead despite the threat of foot-and-mouth.

The six-times world championship winner who won six TTs during his glittering career believes the annual motorcycle extravaganza is 'the most wonderful event in the world,' and that it would be 'disastrous' for the tourist industry if it didn't go ahead. He believes every effort should be made to prevent foot-and-mouth from spreading to the Island, but at the same time believes it is important to keep the TT going.

He explained: 'The other point is that so many young riders come mainly to have a dash round the TT course themselves. I think a lot of these people will come anyway.'

He added that if the TT was cancelled 'it would have a disastrous effect on what is left of the tourist industry.'

Every year the TT attracts criticism, but Mr Duke, who was awarded the OBE in 1951, believes it is essential it is allowed to continue. 'Road racing isn't popular with some people in the FIM (the world governing body). It is important that we hang onto the lifeline.

It is still an extremely important event, an event which is oversubscribed with riders and brings 40,000 people in, apart from the local interest. I think it is important to keep it going. I don't see any reason why it shouldn't keep going for a long, long time.' He believes leaving a decision on this year's event to the end of the month is a bit late, particularly for people coming from the continent who wouldn't be able to cancel their journeys as some of the carriers don't allow it.

Mr Duke, who is also an honorary freeman of the borough of St Helen's, brushed aside criticism that the TT no longer attracts big names. He said the event has its own top riders and rated six-times winner David Jefferies as 'absolutely superb.' If the races do go ahead the top road racer and fastest man ever round the TT circuit will be aiming to add to his impressive list of wins.

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