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TT stars of the future are taken on a tour of the course

Author: IoM Newspapers
Posted on: Friday, Oct 03 2008

The riders, who were all under 30, were chaperoned round the course by rider liaison officers Richard 'Milky' Quayle and John Barton.

Current TT stars Nick Crowe, Conor Cummins and Gary Johnson were also there to provide expert insight into riding the course and answer questions.

The government's TT and motorsport development officer Paul Phillips said the visit was extremely positive for all concerned.

'When you bring over a big group like that you have to be realistic. We may get all of them maybe not all next year, but over the coming two years.

'I was surprised at how positive they were,' he said.

Mr Phillips said the financial burden of competing in the British Championships plus the success of people like Conor Cummins and Guy Martin were providing an incentive to other riders to compete at the TT.

'They are looking at other ways of moving their racing careers forward,' he said.

During the visit the riders were taken on numerous laps by car, with the emphasis on seeing and learning the circuit and its hazards.

They were also able to meet organisers and find out more about the event and the Island itself.

The riders left armed with PlayStation 2 games and DVDs to aid circuit learning. Return visits are being arranged.

Since 2004, the event has seen the average speed of the last placed Superbike rider rise from 89mph to 112mph and no fewer than 10 newcomers have broken the 120mph barrier.

With names like Guy Martin, Cameron Donald, Conor Cummins, Steve Plater and James Hillier all etched on the Newcomers' Trophy, organisers consider the recruitment programme a resounding success.

In 2003, the average speed difference between the first Superbike race winner and the last finisher was 30mph, whereas in 2008 it had fallen to just 14mph.

While the standard of entrants has risen over recent years the quantity has fallen, particularly with a number of retirements after the centenary event. This has provided a spur to the current recruitment programme.

The visiting riders, many of whom made the first approach to the recruitment team themselves, included former R6 Cup competitiors Tom Grant, Tom Bridewell and Victor Cox, sidecar team Ben and Tom Birchall, 2002 British Supersport champion Stuart Easton, the 2006 British 125cc champion Dan Cooper, former 125cc rider Dan Linfoot and South African Junior Superstock rider A. J. Venter.

Mr Phillips will be part of the rider recruitment team visiting Brands Hatch for the final British Superbike round in two weeks' time.

The rider recruitment programme for the 2009 event promises some exciting developments with what Mr Phillips described as 'some high-profile European riders' also showing an interest in signing up.

Guy Martin has signed to ride for Rob McElnea's team next year. In addition, organisers are expecting a factory Ducati team to take part and, possibly, even a Norton team for the first time in many years.

Courtesy of IoM Online (Isle of Man Newspapers)

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