Commercial programme developed following Centenary success.
Fans are also going to be treated to a dedicated TT day at the show on Saturday 1st December with former and current stars going head to head in a TT quiz. Star riders including 13 times winner John McGuinness, will also be available to answer questions and sign memorabilia.
The programme for the 2008 TT races has been developed following extensive consultation with manufacturers, teams, riders and fans. Next year’s races look set to build on the success of the Centenary with a second Supersport Race added to the schedule. The 2007 Supersport Race was one of the highlights of the Centenary event with the four leading riders all breaking the class lap record on the final lap.
Many of the leading manufacturer supported teams have already expressed an interest in next year’s event. There could also be some new names on the grid with several World Endurance Championship teams keen to take part following the success of Bolliger Kawasaki, who participated for the first time in 2007.
With a year under their belts, last year’s star newcomers will hope to challenge the established riders and Steve Plater, Keith Amor, Gary Johnson and Jimmy Moore are all expected to return and build on their first year success. The organisers are currently in negotiation with other world class riders looking to compete on the Island for the first time.
The 2008 TT Races will also see the introduction of a new TT course for the return of the Lightweight and Ultra Lightweight TT classes. The famous Billown circuit in the south of the Island, home of the Southern 100 meeting, will be the fourth course on the Island to host TT racing after St John’s, the current Mountain Circuit and the Clypse Course.
This will not be the first time that the TT Races have run on two separate courses at the same time as the Clypse Course hosted the Lightweight and Sidecar classes between 1954 and 1959 whilst racing continued on the Mountain Circuit. The Superbike, Senior, Supersport, Superstock and Sidecar races will all continue on the 37 ¾ mile Mountain Circuit that has been used since 1911.
The Lightweight and Ultra Lightweight classes will be the feature races in the Steam Packet National Road Races programme on the afternoon of Saturday 7th June 2008. They will operate under the same guidance and jurisdiction as the rest of the meeting. Many of the leading TT riders are expected to participate.
The prize fund will reflect the status of a TT race and the winners of each of the Lightweight and Ultra Lightweight classes will receive the prestigious TT trophies, which have not been awarded since 2002 and 2004 respectively. Trophy winners will see their names engraved alongside such luminaries as Joey and Robert Dunlop, Phil Read, Jim Redman and the great Mike Hailwood.
Following the commercial success of 2007 with the DTL increasing revenues by 300%, interest is high in partnering with the TT for next year’s event with a number of existing partners wanting to continue or increase their involvement.
One of the success stories of 2007 was the new range of official TT merchandise which sold out by the end of the event. Buoyed by this success, Isle of Man based Motorsport Merchandise has extended its range of fan wear to include a greater selection for children and a new adult range to include fleeces, jackets and shirts.
The Bike Show at the NEC sees the launch of two products for TT fans. Tickets for the TT Grandstand are now available to purchase on the official website (iomtt.com) and are priced at the same level as 2007.
Also, following the inaugural official TT Hospitality in 2007, Signature Sponsorship Isle of Man Ltd, have now launched the ‘TT VIP Club’ for guests who want to experience the TT in luxury, enjoy the location adjacent to the start / finish straight and listen to the views of the top three riders just moments after they have stepped off the podium. TT Hospitality is for those guests who want to pamper themselves, celebrate their visit to the Island or entertain clients in an environment awash with the atmosphere of the TT.
The news that ACU Events Ltd will organise the competitive element of the event in the future has provided the opportunity to further increase the commercial potential of the TT with a number of additional property rights now available relating to official timings, spectator viewing improvements and circuit support.
Safety improvements continue to be made with new Recticel barriers being developed specifically for the TT in time for the 2008 event. These have been designed to replace straw bales while still allowing access to the pavement for the public outside racing.
Responsibility for the paddock has been handed to the Isle of Man based office of G4S who will work with teams, manufacturers and commercial partners on the layout of the paddock. They will also manage all security during the TT fortnight.
Paul Phillips, TT and Motorsport Development Manager, Department of Tourism and Leisure commented:
“It is very important that we didn’t simply rest on our laurels following the success of the Centenary. We have to build on that to secure the event’s future. We believe that we have created a programme for 2008 that will excite everyone. The Supersport class is always the most competitive and the riders and teams have indicated that it is the right time to re-introduce a second race. There has been a huge amount of discussion about the two-stroke machines and I’m delighted that they will be part of the TT once more albeit on a different circuit.”
“We knew that the Centenary would prove popular with fans, teams and sponsors but it’s been really good to see that this interest is still there. Bookings are already at a higher level than they were in 2006 and a number of commercial partners have indicated a willingness to remain involved”.
Practices week runs from 24th to the 30th May 2008. The rest of the race calendar is as follows:
Saturday 31st May 2008: Superbike TT Race and Sidecar TT Race A
Monday 2nd June 2008: Superstock TT Race & Supersport Junior TT Race A
Wednesday 4th June 2008: Supersport Junior TT Race B and Sidecar TT Race B
Friday 6th June 2008: Senior TT Race
Saturday 7th June 2008: Lightweight TT Race and Ultra Lightweight TT Race (Billown)