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 Bird Sees Both Sides of Debate

Motorcycle racing boss Paul Bird is witnessing first hand the devastation being caused by foot-and-mouth in the UK. Mr Bird, who is in the poultry trade, is currently enjoying success with his Monster Mob Ducati team in the British Superbike Championship. The horror of the crisis is all too close to home for him as he lives in the Lake District which has been worst hit by the virulent disease.

From where he lives in Penrith he can smell burning animal carcasses nearby. He said it would be 'devastating' if foot-and-mouth did reach the Isle of Man, but at the same time recognises the popularity and importance of the TT.

He said: 'I would like it to go ahead, but it is very risky whether it does go ahead or not.' He added: 'It would be very sad for the motorcycling fraternity not to have the TT. It would be very disappointing.' Mr Bird will forever have a place in TT history as he provided the factory-engined Honda SP1 which Joey Dunlop rode to victory in last year's Formula One, arguably the greatest of his 26 TT victories. As yet Mr Bird, who brought across seven bikes to the Island last year as part of his Demon Vimto Honda team, has not finalised plans on what he will be doing for this year's event, should it go ahead, but did say: 'We are possibly going to be doing something with Honda Britain.'

Rumours are also mounting that 11 times TT champion and Island resident Steve Hislop, who rides the Monster Mob Ducati in the BSB championship, will return to the road racing event. He last competed in 1994 and only Joey Dunlop and 14 times winner Mike Hailwood have notched up more victories on the mountain circuit.

Foot-and-mouth precautions were in place for the first round of the BSB Championship at Donington Park on Sunday when Hizzy, as he is known in the motorcycling world, had an impressive start to the season, coming second in the first race and fourth in the second. His return to the TT would be a major boost to the event, but Mr Bird added that he has not been approached by the Department of Tourism and Leisure about the possibility of Hizzy racing.

Mr Bird is clearly impressed with the Scot who rode for the Virgin Yamaha team in last season's BSB championship before he had a major crash in a round of the World Superbike championships at Brands Hatch. Mr Bird said: 'He is the best rider we have ever worked with.'

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