The Isle of Man TT Races are the last of the great motorcycle tests in the world today and, at 100 years old they show no sign of slowing down. Instead of creaking and rocking, the event is right back to the top of the motorcycle tree, continuing to maintain its status throughout the world and attracting the finest road racers on the planet. Excitement, triumph, glory, exhilaration, and tragedy – the TT has it all and for two weeks in June the little Island in the Irish Sea is the place where all eyes are focused.
Sport today is a major business and whilst some things come and go the fact that the TT remains the pinnacle of two wheel racing is testament to the Islanders who have not only maintained the heritage and tradition of the event but moved with the times to ensure it stays firmly at the top.
It was back in 1907 when it all started and little did those TT pioneers know what they were creating – a legacy, the stuff of legend. If someone had the idea to do it in this day and age it would never even get to turn a wheel. In the 100 years since, the TT has seen it all and played host to some of the most illustrious names in motorcycle sport. Woods, Guthrie, Simpson, Duke, McIntyre, Surtees, Hailwood, Ubbiali, Agostini, Redman and Read are riders from the halcyon days when motorbike riders were household names.
When the TT lost its World Championship status, many thought it was the beginning of the end but, instead, it became a haven for real road race specialists who were keen to pit their wits against the Mountain Course, the most challenging and demanding course in the world. Names like Grant, Williams, Rutter, Hislop, Fogarty, McCallen, Jefferies and McGuinness came to the forefront, but throughout it all one name stood out – Joey Dunlop. The greatest of them all, Joey saw it all, did it all, and conquered all. No challenge or rival was too great and he did more for the races than any other rider.
As we move in to the second century of the Isle of Man TT Races, the event is as strong as its ever been, if not stronger. It will continue to have its ups and downs but one thing that can be guaranteed is that it will always haul itself back to the top.
Whilst this year’s event is certainly a celebration of the event’s history, it’s also a platform to take the races on to a new level. The racing is still the focal point of the event and the riders you will see this year are the best in the business and attracting these new heroes remains high on the agenda. 2007 is the beginning of the next era and the aim is to strive for even greater heights, whilst continuing the tradition and values of those pioneering individuals.
In recent years, the organisers have gone to tremendous lengths to ensure the quality of entry is the best it possibly can be and this year is no exception – indeed, it’s quite probably the best its ever been. Not only are all the stars of 2006 returning but we also have the return of a former winner and even more high calibre newcomers. From World Champions to British Champions and from European stars to American Superbike winners, this year’s TT has it all. With no less than 12 potential race winners in each class, there’s no doubt at all that we are all in for one hell of a ride.
Heading the entry is the current King of the Mountain, John McGuinness. The outright lap record holder, McGuinness took an awesome hat-trick 12 months ago elevating himself to the status of a TT Legend and few would bet against him serving up a repeat performance. Already an 11-time winner, McGuinness continues with Honda for 2007 with top Supersport team Padgett’s joining HM Plant Honda in the McGuinness stable.
There’s a whole host of riders looking to knock McGuinness of his lofty pedestal - none more so than his close friend and team mate Ian Hutchinson. Having racked up two podiums at last year’s TT, he is well placed to take his first TT win.
Meanwhile, two riders who return with their 2006 teams are Ian Lougher with Stobart Honda and Martin Finnegan with Klaffi Honda.
One rider who has switched teams is Ryan Farquhar. Having missed last year’s meeting due to injury, the Irishman will be determined to get back at the top of the results sheet on his Mark Johns Honda. Farquhar does, however, use Kawasaki machinery for the Supersport and Superstock classes - the former he has won twice in as many years.
The fifth Honda rider capable of taking the glory is, arguably, the most exciting of them all and all eyes will be on Cameron Donald to see what he can achieve in his third year at the TT. The Australian is back with the Uel Duncan Racing team who now have official Honda support, and another top class newcomer, Scotsman Keith Amor, joins him.
TAS Suzuki continue with Bruce Anstey and Adrian Archibald. The Kiwi rider already has 5 TT wins to his name and a 129mph lap in last year’s Senior race has set him up nicely for taking the fight to McGuinness. On the other hand, Archibald is looking to get his career back on track after a lacklustre 2006 but the Ballymoney ace has taken three Superbike wins in recent time and, if it all comes right on the day, he could well add another to his name.
Yamaha’s TT campaign is spear headed by top locals Jason Griffiths, Nigel Beattie and Conor Cummins on the all-new R1s, whilst arguably their biggest name rider for the event is exciting newcomer Steve Plater.
The last of the Japanese manufacturers, Kawasaki, have their strongest representation for many a year with no less than 4 top teams! Heading the way is the returning Michael Rutter who lines up with his British Championship MSS Discovery squad. Rutter’s comeback has been talked about for years, but now it’s a reality and he is sure challenge. Fellow BSB team Hawk Kawasaki, are back for more, again with Carl Rennie, whilst McAdoo Racing line up with their new signing Ray Porter. Also representing Kawasaki, are Swiss World Endurance team Bolliger, who make their TT debut with rapid Belgian Michael Weynand and Manxman Gary Carswell.
The ‘factory’ stars are backed up by a whole host of privateers who are more than capable of upsetting the formbook. Ian Armstrong has consistently featured in the top ten in recent years and with a best lap of 124mph, more of the same can be expected. Les Shand, the fastest newcomer in 2005, returns for his third year whilst other riders of note include Mark Parrett, Dean Silvester, James McBride, Dan Stewart, Ian Pattinson, David Bell, Mark Buckley, Tim Poole and double Manx Grand Prix winner Craig Atkinson.
Ireland is well represented by Davy Morgan, John Burrows, Keith Stewart, Victor Gilmore, Derek Brien and the young Dunlop’s - William and Michael. The home nation has plenty to cheer about too with Chris Palmer, Paul Hunt, Chris Heath and John Barton all in the hunt.
The international challenge is definitely the strongest it’s ever been with rapid Americans Jeremy Toye and Mark Miller leading the way. Mainland Europe have more extremely fast riders returning with Stefano Bonetti (Italy) and Christer Miinin (Sweden) back for more whilst other riders worth looking out for include Thomas Montano, Frank Spenner, Paul Dobbs, Daniel Jansen, Thomas Schonfelder, Dirk Kaletsch, Sandor Bitter and Mats Nilsson.
Legendary Italian Marque Returns to TT Racing
Perhaps one of the most exciting stories to break in recent weeks is the return of MV Agusta with their exotic F4 Superstock machine.
As the TT celebrates 100 years, it is perhaps fitting that one of the events most iconic motorcycle manufacturers should return in an official factory backed capacity. MV Agusta, the legendary Italian marque, won no fewer than 34 TT’s including 12 Senior’s and 9 Junior’s in 16 fabulous years.
At the TT, the mighty MV’s were perhaps most synonymous with the great Giacomo Agostini. Although Ago only entered 16 TT’s in total, he claimed an astounding 10 wins and his duels with Mike Hailwood have become the stuff of legend. Ago’s refusal to ride the TT after 1972 effectively finished MV’s participation and signalled the end of motorcycling’s ‘Golden Era’.
The man chosen to pilot their exotic machine is current Senior Irish Road Race Champion Martin Finnegan. Although bike problems lead to a rather disappointing TT 2006, there is little doubt that the ever-spectacular Irishman has the ability to win at the TT, and their tie up is eagerly anticipated.
It’s been seven years but the most famous Rutter name returns to TT Racing!
After many years of speculation, Michael Rutter has confirmed that he will make a sensational return to the Isle of Man TT races in 2007, riding factory-supported Kawasaki machines. The subject has been a topic of discussion ever since his last appearance in 2000 but contractual obligations have meant he has had to miss out. However, that will all change this year and the 1998 Junior 600cc race winner will line up in the Superbike, Senior and Supersport races for his British Championship MSS Kawasaki team.
Rutter first competed at the TT in 1994 and between then and 2000 he racked up no less than nine podiums that firmly established him as one of the finest road racers in the world. His only win came in 1998 during a rain affected Junior 600cc Race, but he could easily have racked up more. Certainly his single win does not reflect his performances.
Despite it being seven years since he last competed at the TT, Michael, son of former TT great Tony, has continued to race at the North West 200 and Macau GP, scoring countless wins. His inclusion on this year’s entry list is certainly a fantastic boost to the Centenary event.
American stars set to return
After 2 weeks of wall-to-wall sunshine, a number of fans were wondering if it had anything to do with the two men from the USA bringing a little Californian style weather with them. Weather aside, Jeremy Toye and Mark Miller, both experienced AMA campaigners, really made their mark during TT 2006 with a string of outstanding performances.
Toye (pictured) was the fastest of all the newcomers and scotched the theory that you need pure road race experience before coming to the TT. A regular in AMA Superbike, Toye took to the Mountain Course like a natural and he impressed everyone with his professional attitude and his smooth, flowing style.
Likewise, Miller came to the TT last year with just a standard 750cc Suzuki at his disposal but he left with two bronze replicas to his name and a personal best lap of just a fraction under 120mph, a phenomenal performance. Miller, fascinated by the unique challenges offered by the TT course, was eager to come back and learn some more with a Superbike at his disposal.
Toye and Miller were a hit with the fans and certainly brought a lot of colour to the event, but both riders are easily capable of attaining podiums. In addition, more riders from the States are taking a look at the TT, and 2007 will see another top name from AMA make his debut. (see newcomers)
Hydrex to Make debut with Ulster Grand Prix Star Guy Martin
Whilst rider recruitment continues apace, it would be easy to over-look the amount of top teams now adorning the TT Paddock. In recent years we have witnessed an overall increase, not just in the number of top teams coming to race the TT, but also the quality of these teams with all four Japanese manufacturers represented in official capacities.
Out of this year’s new arrivals, British Superbike Team Hydrex Honda will perhaps make the biggest impression in their first year at the TT having signed up road racing sensation Guy Martin. It’s an exciting tie up and one that could well bring TT victories straight off the bat. Indeed, Guy Martin is maybe the most determined of all the TT riders, and he wouldn’t have jumped ship form Yamaha if the package weren’t 100%.
During practice last year it looked like the four-time Ulster Grand Prix winner would be the man to challenge McGuinness. However, unforeseen problems with all his bikes undermined his sterling efforts. Eager to make amends and score that maiden TT win, Guy Martin and Hydrex Honda will be a force to be reckoned with.
Japanese team ready for ultimate test
Current Japanese Sidecar Champions Masahito Watanabe and passenger Hideyuki Yoshida will make their TT debuts in 2007. The pair, who run under the team banner of ‘Rising Sun Racing’, have always finished their home championship within the top 3 since stepping up to Formula 1 in 2001. In 2006, they finally clinched the National Title, and so their attentions have now been firmly focused upon a successful TT debut.
The pair visited the Island twice in recent months to witness the Southern 100 and again to attend the Newcomers Day for sidecar entrants. Spending extra time on the Island in the company of Nick Crowe, the Japanese know exactly what it takes to make the transition from circuits to roads.
The team has also secured the services of former World Championship regular Masato Kumano who will act as Technical Manager. Kumano, who was at the forefront of World Sidecar in the late 70’s and early 80’s, was actually the first sidecar driver from Japan to take on the mighty TT course back in 1978. Kumano has also been closely involved with the LCR outfit from its beginnings and will bring a wealth of knowledge and experience to the Japanese team.
In their first year, and with a new Formula 2 LCR outfit, Watanabe and Yoshida aim to build slowly and come away with respectable lap times as Klaus Klaffenböck did in 2004.
Team Bolliger Kawasaki confirm two rider line up
World Endurance Team Bolliger Kawasaki have confirmed their participation in this years TT and will make their debut with Belgian talent Michael Weynand and local hero Gary Carswell.
The Swiss outfit will supply both riders with the latest Kawasaki Superstock machinery. Whilst much is expected of Weynand in his second year at the TT, it’s Carswell who could benefit most. After scoring a very creditable 9th place in last year’s Superstock race and out-pacing the likes of Archibald, Donald and Finnegan, Carswell will be a real dark horse!
Who will win? And who can depose King John?
Without doubt, McGuinness is the current King of the Mountain, the outright lap record holder and a cut above the rest. Since 2000, he has taken no less than 10 podiums from 12 Superbike races and racked up 6 wins on the 1000cc machines so he’s clearly the man to beat. Surprisingly, he was the last top-flight rider to secure a ride for this year’s event but John is nothing but canny and the decision to remain with Honda is sure to pay dividends for the laid back Morecambe rider. The long established Padgett’s concern are multiple British Champions and will be keen to gain another TT win so don’t be surprised to see another hat-trick head the way of Mr McGuinness.
The veteran of the pack, Lougher is still very much at the top of his game and he goes into each race as a potential winner. Ian knows the Mountain Course better than anyone else and this experience goes a long way to keeping him at the front of the pack. However, you can only do it with talent and the Irish based Welshman has it in bundles and the rest of the field know exactly what challenge he offers. Back again with Paul Bird’s Stobart Honda team, Lougher craves for a Superbike win on the Island and if he achieves that this year, his CV will be complete. Only Joey Dunlop has more TT podiums.
2006 was a disappointing year on the Island for Finnegan and having come into the event as the new pretender, he left with everyone saying ‘what happened?’ Machine problems held him back but the experience will stand his Klaffi Honda team in good stead and they are mega-determined to redress the balance and give the youngster the tools he needs to do the job. Road racing fans know what a talent he is - Finnegan still bagged the Irish Road Race Championship despite last year’s problems! Supersport success may be more difficult but with the might of the MV Agusta factory backing his Superstock bid, this will be one of the most eagerly watched rides of the week.
A rider who shuns the limelight and publicity, Anstey definitely does all his talking on the track and his final lap in last year’s Senior TT has whetted the appetite of everyone for 2007. We all know what he can do in the Superstock and Supersport classes but the Superbike class is the ultimate test and that 129mph lap has made us all ask the question – is he the man to beat McGuinness? He may be softly spoken but he’s as hard a competitor as anyone and if awards were handed out for determination, he’d have a hat full. Now in his fourth year with TAS Suzuki, Bruce will be there or thereabouts in every race.
Still only, 25 Martin made the surprise switch in the close season from AIM Racing Yamaha to Hydrex Honda, who have yet to prove themselves on the roads but if anyone can deliver the results then Martin can. He proved how fast he could be at last year’s event and was only 3 seconds behind McGuinness in the Senior race when an oil leak snuffed out his challenge. Arguably the most talented rider on the grid, an unprecedented four timer at last year’s Ulster GP shows he has what it takes to win International races and if he has that bit of luck required on the Island, he could well walk away with more than one win to his name.
2006 was arguably the most disappointing year in the Ballymoney rider’s career and he comes into this year’s event with it all to do. Many wonder if he can repeat his success of the past but since the turn of the decade only three riders have won Superbike races on the Island and Adrian is one of them. On his day, there’s no doubt he can run at the front and his rivals still fear and respect him. The machines will be good enough and the team is good enough so if Adrian has the hunger and desire, he’ll be back in contention. And let’s face it - if there’s one event in existence to give you that hunger, it’s the Centenary TT!
A former Manx Grand Prix winner, Porter comes into this year’s race with a question mark beside his name. Undoubtedly fast, Raymond is one of the few riders who have made the successful step up from Irish National racing to the Internationals but serious injuries at Killalane last year mean the North West 200 will be his first race of the year. The lack of track time may count against him but he proved at the 2006 Ulster GP that he can run with, and beat, the likes of Lougher, McGuinness and Hutchinson and linking up with McAdoo Kawasaki will do his career no harm at all.
2006 should have been Ryan’s year but it all went wrong before it had even started and it will be interesting to see how he performs on his return. His outing in the Classic races at the Manx Grand Prix will have refreshed his memory of the Mountain Course but a lot will depend on the competitiveness of his Superbike mount and this is the class where he is yet to really deliver at the TT. Without doubt, he’ll be a potential winner in the Supersport and Superstock races and Ryan always thrives in an underdog environment and with his determination higher than anyone else’s out there, he’s sure to figure.
One of the most exciting youngsters currently plying his trade on the roads, ‘Hutchy’ was a revelation in 2006 on board the McAdoo Kawasaki’s and it came as no surprise when HM Plant Honda snapped up his services. Replacing his good friend McGuinness will be no easy task and he undoubtedly has the biggest of all the boots to fill but he is supremely talented and more podiums are sure to come his way. This will be his fourth year of racing at the TT and he now has the experience and race craft to challenge for race wins – 2007 could well be the year he takes his first ever TT win.
Rutter’s return to the TT has been the topic of discussion each and every year since he last raced and he finally comes back to one of his most successful stamping grounds. Undoubtedly, Rutter is an extremely talented road racer but it is seven years since his last appearance and the speeds have risen considerably since 2000. Riding a factory supported Kawasaki will help him go quicker but whether he can make the jump up to 129mph laps remains to be seen. He is a massive name to have back on the grid and although a win may be just out of his reach this year, podium positions most definitely aren’t.
The sensation of pure road racing in 2006 right across the British Isles, not just the TT, the young Australian became the third fastest rider in the history of the event last year with a brilliant second place in the Senior race. His performances last year, along with those in Ireland and at the Southern 100, have earned the Uel Duncan team official Honda backing, which will only help his cause even more. Now in his third year of racing at the TT, Donald has to cope with huge expectations and pressure and if he can overcome this, and maintain the progress he has already shown, he could well chalk up his first TT win.
Carl finally got his big chance in 2006 with some top-level machinery and the results were both immediate and impressive. Having already excelled as a privateer, Rennie used the Hawk BSB Kawasaki to devastating effect taking sixth and seventh in the Senior and Superbike races respectively. His best lap of 124.867mph was equally impressive and it’s little wonder that Stuart Hicken has lent his support to Carl once more. After a season taking in more real road racing than ever before, Rennie will be approaching this year’s TT with bundles of experience and results like those in 2006 or better are on the cards for the amiable Lancastrian.
A revelation in 2006, young Cummins had his first ever road race at least year’s North West 200 and immediately rocked the established guard. At the end of TT fortnight, he walked away with the Newcomer’s Trophy, a 120mph lap and an incredibly bright future, which has showed no signs of fizzling out. A natural road racer without a doubt, Cummins is still only 20 and has all the ingredients to go all the way. Although this will be just his second year at the TT, he has a great team behind him and it’s highly likely he’ll be a top ten finisher. Could well end the week as the fastest Manxman.
Griffiths had another excellent TT in 2006 scoring two more podium finishes but that much yearned for win again eluded him. Only competed in two meetings last year and a certain amount of doubt accompanies his participation at this year’s event but, if he’s on the starting line, he’ll be in contention. Perhaps his best chances come in the Superstock and Supersport races but he’ll give a good account of himself in every race. Now working for Pirelli, Jason has scored more podiums than any other rider who hasn’t won a TT. A win for Jason would be a popular win indeed.
The fastest Manxman ever to have lapped the 37- mile course, Big H can still run with the best and his appetite is as strong as ever. Indeed, reports suggest that Big H has undertaken a comprehensive fitness regime over the winter months and a leaner, fitter Big H will take to the starting grids this season. Hunt finally got a chance with a top team last year (Team Racing), and went faster than ever before, racking up a string of top ten finishes. Arguably in the twilight of his career, he has secured an ex-Virgin Mobile BSB Yamaha so he definitely has a quality machine to improve his TT results even further.
One of the most stylish and most consistent riders in the field, the Laxey rider also has an old head on his young shoulders and he has been going about his business in a steadfast manner. A 250cc winner at the North West 200, Beattie has achieved a lot with his close-knit private team who operated professionally on a limited budget and he has been rewarded with a switch to the CD Racing set-up. This year will see him be able to concentrate solely on his racing and he is sure to figure even more prominently and he could well end the fortnight as the star local performer.
One of the star performers in 2006, Toye was the fastest of all the newcomers and scotched the theory that you need pure road race experience before coming to the TT. A regular top ten finished in AMA Superbike races, Toye took to the Mountain Course like a natural and he impressed everyone with his professional attitude and his smooth, flowing style. After challenging the British and Irish stars at the Macau Grand Prix, Toye will return this year more experienced and stronger than before and, like Cummins, should make an impression on the top 15 at least.
Weynand was forced to sit out last year’s event but everyone can still remember his performances as a newcomer in 2005. Despite riding a completely standard 600cc Suzuki, the Belgian rider scored two top twenty finishes in the Supersport races lapping at just under 118mph and with a Superbike at his disposal this year, his return his eagerly awaited. Weynand is also one of two riders in the Swiss World Endurance Team - Bolliger Kawasaki. With this kind of support, the rapid Belgian will easily crack the 120mph barrier and a top 10 finish is not beyond him. His return is a real boost for the TT and is eagerly anticipated.
Miller came to the TT last year with just a standard 750cc Suzuki at his disposal but he left with two bronze replicas to his name and a personal best lap of just a fraction under 120mph, a phenomenal performance. Not only that, but he bonded with the course like an experienced campaigner and he has already vowed to return year on year, a terrific boost for all concerned. A major asset to the event, Miller is a former two-time podium finisher at Macau and his progress up the leaderboard this June will be viewed with interest - especially if, as likely, he returns with Superbike machinery.
More and More Newcomers sign up for TT Racing
For the last few years, an influx of high quality newcomers have been pitting their wits against the rigours of the Mountain Course and rider recruitment has again been high on the agenda since last year’s event. Significantly, more and more riders are approaching the organisers about riding in the greatest motorcycle race in the world and this year once more sees some great names making their debut.
Since 2004, no less than five riders have broken the 120mph barrier on their debut and many have not only won silver and bronze replicas but also finished comfortably inside the top 20.
The last three recipients of the Newcomers Trophy have been Guy Martin, Cameron Donald and Conor Cummins, which speak for itself. Throw in the likes of Les Shand, Mark Miller, Jeremy Toye, Mark Buckley, Tim Poole, Michael Weynand and William Dunlop and there’s absolutely no doubt that rider recruitment has been an unqualified success.
Oh yes, lets not forget former world sidecar champion Klaus Klaffenböck!
The Wizard of Oz!
Australian Cameron Donald burst onto the road racing scene in 2005 with some tremendous results at both national and international level. Especially eye catching was Cameron’s performance in his first TT on board a standard 600, bagging the Best Newcomer award along the way.
Often riding as a newcomer, Cameron was the sensation of 2006 racking up 10 wins at national level and becoming an instant folk hero with the thousands of fans who flocked to see him. Amongst these successes, there were wins at both the famous Skerries 100 and the Championship race at the Southern 100. These feats were only out done by his performances at the international races and the Isle of Man TT in particular.
Cameron first defied the sceptics at the North West 200, scoring a brace of 4th places whilst riding with broken heels from an earlier practice accident. Just three weeks later, Cameron finished an amazing 5th place in only his 4th ever TT race, but more was to come. Fully up to speed by the end of the week, Cameron pushed 11 times winner John McGuinness all the way in a sensational Senior TT race. Voted the ride of the year by popular website real road racing.com, Cameron secured 2nd place with laps in excess of 128mph. Indeed, Cameron is now the 3rd fastest rider ever around the daunting Mountain Circuit – and all this in just two visits to the Island!
And new names for 2007!
Since the arrival of Guy Martin and Klaus Klaffenböck in 2004, the TT has enjoyed a massive influx of top talent signing up year on year. 2007 continues that trend and may just produce the best crop of TT stars to date. Here are just a few...
Scottish rider Keith Amor was undoubtedly one of the revelations of 2006 and is currently hot property despite his limited outings on the roads. Amor shot to prominence at the North West 200 when he qualified his private Suzuki on the front row. He backed this up with sixth in the Superstock race but it was his debut at the Ulster GP that ultimately won him his place with the Uel Duncan Racing squad.
Amor was on the pace immediately and ended the week with a win to his name as well as a number of top ten finishes in the UGP races, battling all the way with far more experienced and better financed rivals. Perhaps more telling was the fact he became the fastest ever newcomer at Dundrod beating the previous best mark of a certain Cameron Donald.
Multiple Swedish champion Christer Miinin is not strictly a TT newcomer having previously entered in 2005, but his first TT experience was extremely short lived. Miinin lapped at 111mph on his very first lap of the Mountain Course, but that would prove to be his only lap as he withdrew from the event after the loss of team mate Joakim Karlsson.
The Swedish ace was a late starter to the sport, only commencing his career in 1998, but he has now firmly established himself on the world stage. He finished 3rd overall in the 2006 World Endurance Championship riding for the illustrious Phase One World Endurance team. In that time, Christer scored two podiums (Assen 500 miles, 24 Hours of Oschersleben) and five top six finishes in the seven rounds.
Miinin’s full debut is eagerly awaited, and this time around he lines up with the ultra-professional Martin Bullock squad - not only one of the most successful teams around the Mountain Course, but also the same team behind new team-mate Jeremy Toye’s hugely successful debut.
Jimmy Moore hopes to follow in the footsteps of his fellow countrymen Mark Miller and Jeremy Toye and is the latest top flight American to make his TT debut. Indeed, Moore has the best pedigree out of all of them having taken the 2001 AMA Supersport 750cc and 2002 AMA Superstock Championships. He has ridden for many of the top American privateer teams and has also been a regular top fifteen finisher in the AMA Superbike Championships. Extremely experienced, Moore is sure to excel and emulate, if not better, the achievements of his countrymen.
Like previous newcomers Conor Cummins and James Edmeades, Collins first came to people’s attention in the televised Virgin Mobile R6 Cup but he soon moved onto the 1000cc machines, impressing immediately. Forced to miss out on his debut last year, Collins’ potential was realised when he won the 2006 National Superstock Cup with 5 wins and 9 podiums to his name. He also made his real road race debut at Oliver’s Mount, Scarborough and proved his natural talent with a pair of sixth place finishes. Full of youthful exuberance and flair, Bob is an exciting talent and is sure to become a TT regular in the years ahead.
A former top runner in the MRO and Aprilia Mille Championships, Ramsbotham switched to the roads in 2005 when he contested all of the Scarborough meetings. Just a year later he was already on the podium and only being defeated by Guy Martin and Ian Lougher, such was the progress he had made. He made his debut at the Ulster Grand Prix last year and was immediately on the pace, lapping in excess of 118mph!
Lancastrian rider Nisill has already impressed on the roads with some solid performances at the North West 200 and Ulster Grand Prix and he finally gets to make his TT debut. Still only in his mid-20’s, he has considerable experience of Superbike machinery as well as being a regular front-runner in the Darley Moor, Oulton Park and Aintree club championships
BSB Star to fulfil TT ambition
A four time British Superbike race winner, Plater is without doubt the biggest of all the newcomers and finally realises his long ambition of competing on the Island.
Twice a runner up in the British Supersport Championship, since 2000 Plater has ridden in the British Superbike Championship for the works Kawasaki, Yamaha, Honda and Suzuki teams and his debut is a mouth-watering prospect. Although he was without a full time ride in 2006, it proved to be one of his most successful years with a superb double at the North West 200 and victory at the prestigious Macau Grand Prix. Plater lines up for the official AIM Racing Yamaha team whilst he will also be competing in the World Endurance Championship for the works Kawasaki team.
Sidecars – Who will win and who can end the Manx domination?
Equally important to the Isle of Man TT races as the solos, the Formula Two Sidecars again have two races and having been part of the Island’s history for so long, it’s only right that they experience the same upturn in fortunes as their solo counterparts. The quality of the grid is stronger than ever before and the levels of professionalism are second to none. If the solos have created heroes and legendary names then the sidecars have done the same. Oliver, Deubel, Enders, Schauzu, Steinhausen, Taylor, Ireson, Boddice, Saville, Fisher and Molyneux are just some of the drivers to have firmly etched their names in the record books, names that will always live on in TT folklore.
The standard of entry has again risen to new levels in 2006, not only with the established competitors returning but also with the amount of newcomers coming to the Island. However, one name continues to remain at the forefront of the sidecar brigade, that of local hero Dave Molyneux. Now in his 21st year of racing at the TT, the Regaby man experienced the lows of the Island last year when he crashed heavily in practice, amazingly without serious injury but he’s back for more in 2007 and with Rick Long in the chair, it’s a formidable partnership and one the rest have to beat.
Fellow Manxmen Nick Crowe and Daniel Sayle are the pairing most likely to prevent Moly from cleaning up and, with a double victory to his name last year, Crowe could well be closer than he’s even been to beating his rival in a straight fight. However, last year saw the top few crews quicker than ever before and no less than eight crews were in contention for the podium positions, not just three as had been the case in previous years, further proof of the competitiveness of the class.
Steve Norbury and Scott Parnell are the third fastest crew in the history of the event and have already recorded nine podiums so it’s fair to say they are long over due a win and if 2007 is to be the year it happens, you’d be hard pressed to find a more popular result. On the form of 2006, other pairings who will be fighting it out for the podium places include Simon Neary/Craig Hallam, 2001 World Champions Klaus Klaffenbock/Christian Parzer, John Holden/Andy Winkle, Roy Hanks/Dave Wells, Andy Laidlow/Patrick Farrance and Phil Dongworth/Stuart Castles.
The supporting cast, like the solos, is stronger than ever with Tony Elmer, Nigel Connole, Tony Baker, Roger Stockton, Allan Schofield, Bill Currie, Kenny Howles, Glyn Jones, Greg Lambert, David Wallis, Mick Harvey and Conrad Harrison, to name just a few, fighting it out for top ten finishes at the very least. Meanwhile, former podium finisher, and one of the class stalwarts, Eddy Wright makes a welcome return.
The recruitment of newcomers has been stepped up for the F2 class as well and 2006 saw no less than three drivers, Wayne Lockey, Nick Houghton and Declan Lynch, all lap at over 100mph. 2007 sees the debut of German driver Mike Roscher and having finished in the top eight of the World Championship in recent years, including numerous top five results, his appearance signifies the tremendous pull of the event.
Another interesting prospect is the TT debut of current Japanese Sidecar Champions Masahito Watanabe and Hideyuki Yoshida. The pair who finished the last 6 years in the top three positions of the Japanese National Formula 1 Championship aim to make steady progress with a view to returning year on year.
Other drivers to make debut, having already achieved top results in the F2 British Championship and at the Southern 100 and Scarborough include Dougie Wright (son of Eddy), Mark Brown, Rob Hancock, David Hirst and Stuart Stobbart.
Molyneux’s invincibility came to a sudden and frightening halt in 2006 with a 140mph crash at Rhencullen in practice, an incident that prompted him to retire. However, less than a week later he’d changed his mind and began plotting for his 2007 return. Arguably the greatest sidecar driver ever to have competed at the Isle of Man TT Races, Moly celebrates 21 years of TT competition this year and with Rick Long in the chair, the HM Plant Honda is well placed to add another double to his collection. Whether or not the crash has tempered his speed remains to be seen.
Manx domination of the sidecar events continues with treble TT winner Nick Crowe. A double winner in 2006, Crowe has a remarkable record of finishing in the top two places for every TT race in the last 4 years! Nick is without doubt the second best driver currently competing - only the modern TT legend that is Molyneux is stopping Crowe dominating the event himself. Nick continues to edge ever closer to challenging Molyneux in a straight fight – if anyone is to defeat Moly, then Crowe is the man to do it. Long-time passenger Darren Hope has hung up his leathers, so Crowe links up with Molyneux’s former passenger, the lap record holding Dan Sayle.
Like Crowe, Norbury continues to get quicker and quicker, edging ever closer to the flying Molyneux. With six podiums from the last six races, Norbury is the picture of consistency and, with a little more luck, that first win will be his. The Jason Griffiths of the sidecar world, you’d be hard pushed to find a more avid TT enthusiast and 2007 could well be the year when the dream of a TT win becomes reality. Also a leading contender in the World Championship, Norbury undoubtedly has the talent to be a TT winner - only the two manx wonders are stopping him.
The former World Sidecar Champion switched his attention to the TT in 2004 and from those early, cautious laps he has blossomed into a TT star and a definite contender for honours. Only bad luck prevented him from getting his first ever rostrum last year and he has made it quite clear that the event is his number priority. Having withdrawn his team from the World Superbike Championship, Klaffi is right up there with the best of them and his attention and focus is firmly on the first two weeks of June.
Neary only made his TT debut in 2002 but has rapidly progressed through the ranks to become the sixth fastest driver ever. Neary looked all set to claim his first ever podium in last year’s ‘A’ race, but crashed out on the Mountain at Brandywell - fortunately without serious injury. If he can eliminate this youthful exuberance, he could put the matter right this year. A regular front runner in the British Formula 2 Championship, Neary has the talent and experience to succeed and, with former winner Craig Hallam in the chair, is sure to be closer to the big three.
From a family steeped in sidecar history, Hanks is the most experienced driver in the field and lines up for his 41st TT. With Dave Wells in the chair, the duo continue to give their rivals plenty to think about it and although a race win is probably out of their reach, they are sure to be in the top six in both races. Scored his tenth podium in 2006 and with consistency and reliability to match his competitiveness, don’t bet against more of the same this year.
Laidlow returned in 2006 after a two year absence but it never showed and he was on the pace immediately. Driving the all-new LCR, the Cumbrian driver and his young passenger Farrance cracked the 110mph mark for the first time and just missed out on a podium in both legs. Like Norbury and Parnell, the duo contest the World Championship and they are equally adept at both. Sure to go quicker again in 2007, Laidlow is yet another driver who is more than capable of stepping on to the rostrum.
Dongworth made his debut back in 1996 but didn’t return until 2000. However, since then he has gone on to be one of the finest drivers competing on the Island and certainly one of the fastest. Bad luck, particularly on the final lap of a number of races, has prevented him from stepping onto the podium and if anyone deserves to be on the rostrum then he does. Narrowly missed out on a first ever 110mph lap last year, Dongworth is back with regular passenger Stuart Castles and is guaranteed to be in the top six.
One of the veteran drivers still competing at the very top of his game, Holden has been driving on the Island since the days of the 350cc two-strokes and continues to get quicker. Two podium finishes in the last two years have been just rewards for the Lancastrian and he was another driver to crack the 110mph barrier for the first time last year. Like Dongworth, Holden is a certainty to be in the top six, at the very least.
Elmer only made his debut in 2004 but the Leeds driver has rapidly improved to become one of the leading lights at the TT. The 2005 British Champion scored his best result to date last year when he placed 8th in the ‘A’ Race also lapping at an excellent 108.16mph. A multiple winner at Oliver’s Mount, Scarborough, he blotted his copybook with a spin in the second race at Creg ny Baa but is certainly a good outside bet for a podium in 2007.
The TT With the races celebrating their 100th birthday, the organisers have been working extremely hard to ensure the two-week festival is crammed with special events and activities. Many TT winners, motorcycling personalities and world stars will be appearing at events throughout the festival. Here are just a few…
TT Lap of Honour and Centenary Parade
The ever-popular TT Lap of Honour takes on extra significance in 2007 and boasts a line-up that will ensure it’s an undoubted highlight of the two-week festival. The most iconic riders from TT history will re-live their golden days as they take to the Mountain Course once more – many for the first time since they first blazed a trail around the world’s most famous race circuit. They will be riding legendary machines like Honda, Yamaha, MV Agusta, Suzuki, Benelli, Kawasaki, Norton and BMW and many of them will be aboard the machines that gave them some of their finest days.
This is a once in a lifetime opportunity to witness what is easily the greatest line-up of motorcycling stars ever assembled. Indeed, from those confirmed at this stage, the Lap of Honour plays host to no less than 13 World Champions!
Day of Champions
A ‘TT 2007 Day of Champions’ will play host to yet more very special guests. Featuring a wealth of world famous motorcycling stars, the event will include a range of activities including chat shows, live music and auctions of unique items. Based around the newly refurbished Grandstand and Paddock area, this is THE PLACE to be on Thursday 7th!
Parade of Champions
After the Senior TT on Friday 8th, many of the special guests from the ‘Day of Champions’ will help TT 2007 close with a real bang by taking to the Mountain Course for one very special lap. Joined by countless stars from TT past and present, this is a unique opportunity to see these ‘galacticos’ taste what TT racing is all about!
Earlier in the fortnight the exact time and date of the first TT will be remembered with a re-enactment of the 1907 TT. Starting at 10am on Monday the 28th of May, 100 vintage machines will line up at the start line in St Johns to complete a lap of the original TT Circuit on closed roads. The event will provide a unique opportunity to witness these special machines take in Glen Helen, Kirk Michael and the ancient city of Peel before taking the chequered flag back at St Johns in front of Tynwald Hill.
The Vintage Motor Cycle Club will ensure this unique event is as authentic as possible and St Johns village will turn the clock back 100 years with proceedings lead by an authentic 1900’s town crier. There will be old-fashioned goods for sale, plus nostalgic cars, buses and steam engines on display. Attendees are encouraged to wear period dress.
Murray Walker OBE Hosts
The black tie TT Centenary Dinner on Thursday the 7th of June at the Villa Marina will be another magical occasion where the history of the TT and motorcycle sport will be celebrated. This unique event will be hosted by the voice of British motorsport, Murray Walker OBE and each of the 25 tables will feature one of the greatest personalities from motorcycle sport past and present. The 200 Silver Replica Tickets for this charity event will go on sale shortly. A second set of Bronze Replica tickets will also be available for the upstairs seating in the Villa Marina, giving access to the talk show and auction later in the evening for a further 2000 guests.
Murray Walker has had a long relationship with the TT - an event he holds in the highest regard. After watching his father Graham race the TT in the 1930’s and 40’s, the pair became part of the BBC’s commentary team with Murray becoming one of Britain’s most famous sporting commentators.
“My massively high regard for the TT remains undiminished to this day. In terms of stature, history, spectacle and human endeavour, the TT is still right up there amongst the greats of motor sporting events - a fantastic and charismatic phenomenon that I believe is without equal in the entire history of two - and four wheeled racing.”
- Murray Walker OBE, talking in ‘TT100 - The Official Authorised History of the Isle of Man Tourist Trophy Races’ by Mick Duckworth
Some of the most iconic riders from TT history will be appearing throughout race week. Many of them will re-live their golden days as they take to the Mountain Course on board legendary machines...
Other riders set to appear at various stages over race week include Michelle Duff, Iain Duffus, Marc Flynn, Alan Jackson, Nick Jefferies, John Kidson, Ray Knight, Jan Kostwinder, Brian Morrison, Mat Oxley, Steve Parrish, Frank Perris, Richard Quayle, Johnny Rea, Tommy Robb, Nigel Rollason, Heinz Rosner, Frank Whiteway, Barry Woodland and Stan Woods. This is only just the beginning with World Class riders are being confirmed all the time.
Yamaha take over Ramsey!
Yamaha (Motor) UK will mark the TT Centenary by holding a major event in Ramsey in the north of the Island, in conjunction with the Straightliners Company, who promote the Ramsey Sprint.
Yamsey Festival will kick off on Sunday the 3rd of June with the main body of activity running until Tuesday 5th of June encompassing the Ramsey Sprint, Streetfighters Challenge, displays by the Yamaha backed Flying Gunners Motorcycle Display Team and a performance from rock group the Po Boys featuring former British Champion and World Supersport star Jamie Whitham.
Many other events are planned and the Yamaha promotional truck will be in situ for the period of the festival whilst celebrity visits and big name Yamaha racing personalities will feature throughout. In addition, Yamaha will also be holding arrive and ride days for members of the public to ride Yamaha bikes in a controlled environment, with expert tuition.
Commenting on Yamaha’s involvement in the 2007 Isle of Man TT Centenary, Managing Director of Yamaha UK Andrew Smith said:
“Yamaha has enjoyed a long tradition with the Isle of Man from our first visit in 1961, to our first win with Phil Read in 1965 right up to our last win in the 2005 Senior TT with John McGuinness. We are delighted to have such a significant presence at the Centenary TT both on and off the track, and I am sure that it will be an event to remember for a long time to come for Yamaha and all fans of the TT the world over.”
Schwantz and Itoh lead Suzuki’s celebrations
Suzuki GB has confirmed the attendance of 19993 World 500cc Grand Prix Champion – Kevin Schwantz, at TT 2007. Kevin will join in many Suzuki themed activities across the Island as well as the TT Centenary Dinner hosted by Murray Walker.
Joining Kevin will be Mitsuo Itoh – the only Japanese rider to win at the TT. Mr Itoh won the 50cc class in 1963, setting an impressive average speed of 78.81 MPH! In a class that ran for seven years, Suzuki was victorious on four occasions.
Suzuki plan a week to remember for all their customers, dealers and guests, and their celebrations include a ‘Suzuki Sunday’ event on the 3rd of June at the Golf Links Hotel in Castletown.
Honda Day just the start for famous brand
Honda have supported the Isle of Man TT Races for almost half a century, scoring 130 TT wins and bringing an astounding array of motorcycling greats to the Island. As befitting the 100th anniversary of the event, Honda will again have a strong presence on the Island and are hosting a number of very special events to celebrate their contribution to the illustrious history of the TT races. A firm favourite with the fans, Honda Day in Peel has become a permanent fixture on the TT calendar and is set to excite even more this year with a number of fantastic additions. This year, however, expect Honda’s activities to spread Island wide as the Japanese motoring giants celebrate in style!
Isle of Man TT Races Hall of Fame
To mark the occasion of the Tourist Trophy’s 100th Birthday, the Isle of Man Government Department of Tourism and Leisure have introduced a TT Hall of Fame to honour the greatest of all TT riders - some of which are sadly no longer with us.
The Hall of Fame will honour these outstanding TT riders who stand head and shoulders above their contemporaries with fans able to add their favourites each year. This year will see the first 10 riders inducted - a selection in line with the Centenary TT Stamps and chosen by a panel of TT historians and fans. They are:
Giacomo Agostini, Geoff Duke, Joey Dunlop, Mike Hailwood, Steve Hislop, David Jefferies, Bob McIntyre, John McGuinness, Dave Molyneux and Stan Woods.
Sponsors clamour for TT action
Sponsors are the lifeblood of any event and the Isle of Man Government and Signature Sponsorship are delighted to have secured the backing of some well known companies on the racing circuit.
BENNETTS BIKE INSURANCE
Bennetts, the insurance company, will be the official insurance partner to the Isle of Man TT Races. In addition, Bennetts will be title sponsor of the TT Superbike race on Saturday 2nd June. Bennetts are a fixture on the UK racing circuit and they are the title Sponsor of the British Superbike championship.
Bennetts was established in Coventry by the Bennetts family in 1930 to provide insurance services to people throughout the West Midlands. Bennetts became personal sponsor of World Superbike Champion Neil Hodgson in May 2003.In January 2005 Bennetts signed their biggest sponsorship deal by becoming title sponsor of the 2005 Bennetts British Superbike Championship. Bennetts continued its sponsorship of the British Superbike Championship in 2006.
Japanese helmet maker Arai has produced a limited edition Isle of Man Centenary model developed by celebrated Italian designer Aldo Drudi who has designed for Kevin Schwantz and Kenny Roberts. The helmet, in the red and yellow colours of the Manx national flag, will also feature the words “Isle of Man TT’ in gaelic, as well as having the famous Drudi performance logo.
The 1000 limited edition, hand made Arai RX-7 helmets represent the very best in helmet technology. With features like the new SNC® construction outer shell, organic shell shape and the innovative Dry-Cool® lining material and choice of many designs and replica’s, the RX-7 Corsair is the finest full face helmet in its class
Arai was founded in 1937 by Hirotake Arai. His son Michio ‘mitch’ Arai took over the family business and is today’ company president. They were launched in Europe in 1983. Today Arai Helmet Europe exports helmets to more than 40 countries.
No fewer than twelve world titles in road racing, motorsports and powerboat racing were won in 1985 by competitors wearing Arai helmets. In the 1986/87 F1 season, 26 out of the 28 drivers used an Arai helmet.
Suzuki has a long established history with the Isle of Man TT races and this year the Japanese motoring giant will build and sell the official limited edition TT Centenary machines. There will be three Suzuki Special Edition TT centenary models launched in 2007, all of which will be centred round the iconic GSX-R range with a unique specification and new colour schemes for the UK market. Each special edition model will be available in limited quantities and equipped with a unique numbered plaque.
Everyone benefits from technological advances
The Government Information Services Division within Treasury has been working closely with the Department to ensure that the timing and tracking information is of a quality befitting this prestigious and world leading event. The event will utilise an ACU approved timing and tracking system developed and tested over the last three years by Information Services Division in partnership with an Isle of Man software supplier. This timing system provides information to all the parties involved in the event including timekeepers, race control, competitors their support teams and sponsors. The system also provides information to members of the public via mobile and web technologies to enhance the spectating experience for those on the Island and provide real-time information to those who are not.
For the first time in TT 2007 an official speed trap will be installed on the Sulby straight and the top speed of all the competitors will be available. This combined with the integration of all competitor information into a single place will ensure the most accurate, wide-ranging and quickest possible communications between all necessary parties.
The integration of all competitor information into a single place will ensure the most accurate, wide-ranging and quickest possible communication between all necessary parties:
New ‘Racemann’ system integrates entries, timing and retirements with live results available to TV companies.
Live data from certain points on the course for teams pit signalling.
Timing info compatible with Internet technology for output through mobile devices.
New Wireless network for TT Press Office.
WIFI hotspot at Grandstand for use by competitors.
TV broadcast system to be installed into TT Grandstand and paddock for teams to access live timing system.
For the TT organizers, safety continues to be of paramount importance around the circuit. Advances in medical cover, marshalling and safety products have all contributed to a safer environment for our TT riders. Indeed, the TT now boasts some of the best medical cover of any sporting event in the world. As ever, work is on-going and all the parties involved will strive to make TT racing as safe as possible.
The TT has two helicopters that are present for all practices and races. Stationed at Keppel Gate and Alpine Cottage, they ensure even cover of the whole TT course. Indeed, with an average time of just 6 minutes, the TT has the fastest helicopter response system anywhere in the world. Each aircraft carries an experienced senior doctor and paramedic with advanced life support equipment.
In turn, the two ambulances from the Hogg Motorsport Association, which meet the helicopters at the hospitals helipads, are new purpose built, state-of-the-art, emergency ambulances provided by the Rob Vine Fund. The Hogg Ambulances are designed to carry two stretchers, as there could well be two casualties on the aircraft, especially if it’s a sidecar incident.
The proximity of the new Nobles Hospital and its easy access means the TT Course has the largest medical centre of any race circuit in the world.
There will be up to 15 Doctors and 20 Paramedics out on the TT course together with 30 Emergency Medical Technicians or First Aiders from the Hogg Motorsport Association, St John Ambulance and the British Red Cross, utilising 6 ambulances and 2 rescue helicopter ambulances.
100 marshalling locations have an orthopaedic scoop stretcher and an Immediate Care Case containing the very latest medical equipment for basic and advanced life support.
The medical and rescue services for the TT Course events are arranged by Isle of Man Motorsport Medical Services which is run by its Medical Director, Dr. David B Stevens, MBE.
Marshalling - Quantity and Quality Continues to Rise.
The TT Marshals Association continues to do a magnificent job. The number of marshals gaining qualifications rises year on year and their management of incidents is now second to none. A further increase in funding for marshalling brings their budget up to £110,000, and this has been well spent with the quantity and quality of marshals rising year on year.
2006 saw 15 IMC training courses which resulted in 400 new marshals receiving qualifications. A further 20 courses, of which ten are in the UK, have been arranged for 2007 which will see an additional 600 marshals train towards the Incident Management for Motorcycling qualification.
Thanks to these Incident Management Courses, the TT Course marshals are extremely adept at initially managing a casualty. Assisted by their allocated medic and a Travelling Marshal, the time an injured rider spends on the ground is minimal.
After the initial £40,000 investment in the latest Recticel Safeguard Barriers and Pole Protectors in 2006, the Isle of Man government has committed to spending a further £100,000 on safety products in time for TT 2007.
Incorporating a strategy of developing and supporting up-and-coming riders and increasing qualification criteria, race standards have improved dramatically with TT 2006 seeing the fastest and closest TT ever with all solo competitors qualifying for racing. An important factor in this has been the elimination of slower riders baulking the progress of their faster competitors.
Originally formed in 1962, the TT Marshals Association is now a limited company which can call on a staggering 1700 people during TT fortnight.
Chairman Roger Hurst, who’s eldest son finished 2nd in the 1988 Production C TT, looks after the organisation with help from Jan - his wife and secretary!
Roger is rightly proud of his time in charge thus far. A large percentage of TT marshals have received Incident Management training over and above the standard procedures. Most of these heroic people are from the Island or the UK as you would expect, but some are from as far a field as New Zealand!
Not one to rest on his laurels however, Roger and the Association strive to continually set new standards and their work has not gone unnoticed by those who appreciate it most. The TT riders themselves have heaped praise upon the Association in recent times in the knowledge that they are well looked after.