Of Man TT Starts This Weekend
Isle of Man, May 31
The most challenging event in the Motorcycle racing calendar
returns, after a year long break, as a record entry of 625
riders take part in the Isle of Man TT festival.
The Island is bracing itself for the expected invasion of
40,000 fans, who are returining after the disappointment
of last year's cancellation due to the Foot and Mouth crisis,
to soak up the thrills and action around the demanding 37.73
mile Mountain Course as the week long eight race program
After a 30 year absence the name MV Agusta is back on the
mountain course. American rider Dwight Mitchell is set to
campaign two of the new four-cylinder bikes in the Formula One,
Production 1000, and Senior TT.
Dwight didn't participate in TT 2000, but was entered to race
the 2001 event before the cancellation for Foot & Mouth disease.
He last raced at the TT in 1999 when his USA team won the ACU
International Club team award in the 600 TT class. "For me racing
the TT is like the motorcycle equivalent of scaling Mount Everestt,
there is nothing else like it in the world. Each year I look forward to
racing the mountain course because at the end of the event I'm so
much faster than the previous season. I'm looking forward to my first solo
The recent history of the TT has been the story of the Dunlop
family, and Robert, the younger brother of the late Joey,
aims to write yet another chapter in what is certain to
be a poignant event for him.
Robert rides a Honda RS125R in Monday's four lap Ultra-lightweight
race, aiming to take a fifth victory in that category, and
a sixth in total, and memories of Joey will be on his mind
each time he laps the circuit - the 26th milestone has been
named after Joey Dunlop, a fitting, permanent commemoration
of his unparalleled winning record on the Island.
Before that race, however, Honda, the most successful manufacturer
since their arrival on the scene back in 1959, will be hoping
to have added to their impressive 113 race winning pedigree
as they field a strong two rider works supported team in
the opening TT Formula 1 race, on Saturday afternoon.
John McGuinness, twice a winner on the Island, riding the
954 Fireblade that took him to victory in last year's Macau
Grand Prix, is raring to go: "I'm really pumped up and ready
to go for it - the bike is superb, and I am keen to start
the week as I intend to continue, with a victory.
"For me, racing the TT is the ultimate challenge. It is
so different. The corners are varied, there is the climb
up the Mountain, but while it is financially rewarding,
no-one forces you to go there. I first went to the Island
as a schoolboy, with my dad, to watch the races, and from
then on, I had the ambition to ride and win here."
Ulsterman Adrian Archibald, still chasing maiden TT glory
joins McGuinness, riding a Fireblade and has high promise,
having taken solid results on the Island and in the traditional
'warm-up' event the NorthWest 200 races.
Ranged against the Honda duo in that six lap TTF1 race are
Jim Moodie, seven times a winner, and Iain Duffus, riding
Yamahas and Yorkshireman David Jefferies, twice in as many
years a triple winner on the Island, and Ian Lougher, riding
Sidecar racing is an important part of the TT legend, and
again this year, there are two three lap races, on Saturday
and Wednesday, with Manx crew Dave Molyneux and Colin Hardman.
They start as favourites in their Honda CBR600 powered outfit,
with Molyneux, intent on adding to his seven race victories,
but, he expects under intense pressure from eight times
winner Rob Fisher, passengered by Rick Long.
"I've been in racing all of my life and just enjoy riding
the TT. It is a way of life, I build my own chassis, and
also supply several of my race rivals, including Fisher,"
said Molyneux, adding "the secret of doing well on the Island
is to know the course like the back of you hand - obviously
by within living just a couple of minutes of the course,
I can do that without any problems. Sidecar racing is all
McGuinness continues his quest to dominate the TT as he
rides in Monday's two events, riding Honda in the Lightweight
400 race, which is combined with the Ultra-lightweight race,
then, in the afternoon, the Lancastrian races a Fireblade
in the Production 1000TT.
Wednesday's Junior TT provides McGuinness with the opportunity
to avenge his NorthWest 200 defeat by Ian Lougher. The Honda
CBR600 rider reckons "Lougher is riding better now that
ever and will be tough to beat, but really, this race is
my main priority. It is the one that I am determined to
"Friday's 600 Production race is an extra one on the card,
and will be interesting to say the least, but it gets me
in the groove for the Senior TT, which is always regarded
as the most prestigious in the Festival. I know that my
Fireblade is well on the pace and can win," said McGuinness
whose two victories to date were achieved in the 250 and
Practice is held between Saturday 25 May and Friday 31 May,
with the racing program:
Saturday 1 June 14.00 TT Formula One 6 laps
17.00 Sidecar "A" 3 laps
Monday 3 June 10.45 Lightweight 400/ 4 laps
13.15 Production 1000TT 3 laps
Wednesday 5 June 10.45 Junior 600/250TT 4 laps
13.15 Sidecar "B" 3 laps
Friday 7 June 10.45 Production 600TT 3 laps
13.15 Senior TT 6 laps