We delve into the archives to look back at John McGuinness' illustrious Isle of Man TT career. From 1999 to 2015 the Morecambe Missile has wrapped up an incredible 23 victories! Here’s every one in chronological order;
With two successive third place finishes in the 1997 and 1998 Lightweight 250cc TT races, McGuinness came into the 1999 TT – his fourth year on the Mountain Course – with the Paul Bird Motorsport team once more, only this time he was riding the start of the art 250cc TSR Honda. Leading the 250cc British Championship after two wins in the first five rounds – a title he ultimately won – he arrived on the island in confident mood, and this was seen during practice week when he topped the leader board. He took that form into the four-lap race and dominated proceedings to win his first TT by more than half a minute whilst his second lap speed of 118.29mph finally broke Ian Lougher’s nine-year-old lap record of 117.80mph.
Dave Morris dominated the Singles class at the TT from 1997 to 1999 riding the Chrysalis BMW he’d built himself, but tragedy then sadly struck as he lost his life at Croft in September 1999. It was double heartache for the family when, just a week later, his wife Alison passed away, but sons Neil and Lee returned to the TT in 2000 with two bikes which, using their parents combined initials, were christened the Chrysalis AMDM. John and Jason Griffiths paid the perfect tribute to the family as they took a 1-2, John taking his second TT victory 47.5s ahead of his team-mate.
McGuinness found himself riding for three teams at TT2003, PBM MonsterMob Ducati, Valmoto Triumph and RLR Motorsport and whilst podiums were taken on the Ducati in the Formula One and Senior races, it was the Lightweight 400cc race that saw him claim TT win number three. Ricky Leddy, whose bikes were regularly winning on the short circuits, supplied John with an RVF400 Honda for the four-lap race and pictured here at Creg ny Baa, he duly rewarded him with the win, his winning margin over Ulsterman Richard Britton 26.3s.
With no ride at the beginning of the season, McGuinness bought his own two-year old R1 Yamaha for the North West 200 and with good performances there, Yamaha UK snapped him up on the eve of the TT. Riding the latest version of the R1, McGuinness had fellow TT winner Jim Moodie in his corner, and he led the Formula One race from start to finish for his first ‘big bike’ TT win. Flying high here at Bray Hill, he also set a new outright lap for the Mountain Course at 127.68mph as he got the better of the TAS Suzuki pairing of Adrian Archibald and Bruce Anstey. It was ultimately the year that saw him become the Superbike maestro at the TT, an accolade that would remain for the next decade.
For the second year running, McGuinness lined up for RLR Motorsport in the Lightweight 400cc race with Ricky Leddy having done more development work with the RVF400 Honda. It was another start to finish victory for McGuinness with a fastest lap of 112.04mph helping him on his way to a 33.2s victory over veteran Steve Linsdell.
With confidence high, McGuinness came into the Junior 600cc race with two wins and a second under his belt for the week whilst he’d also taken the IFS Racing Yamaha R6 to victory in one of the corresponding races at the North West 200 two weeks before. The 2004 Junior TT was, as expected, a close affair but John duly completed his first TT hat-trick with a 17s victory over Bruce Anstey. The picture shows John exiting the Gooseneck and he also broke Ryan Farquhar’s year-old class lap record, hoisting it to a new high of 122.87mph.
John continued with Yamaha in 2005, riding now for AIM Racing in both the British Superbike Championship and on the roads, the team owned by Scottish businessman Alistair Flanagan. BSB proved to be challenging, to say the least, but at the TT John’s performances from the previous year made him the man to beat and he again delivered in the opening race of the week. Renamed the Superbike race, in place of the long-standing Formula One tag, John had an eight-second lead at the end of the opening lap and never looked back, pulling away for an eventual 36s win. The image shows him entering the left-right combination at Braddan Bridge.
The Senior race in 2005 followed a similar pattern to the Superbike race earlier in the week with John enjoying a 10s lead over TAS Suzuki’s Adrian Archibald at the end of the first lap after posting the fastest lap of race week at 127.326mph. With a 25s lead at the completion of the next lap, John was able to ride to his signals for the remaining four laps and ran out a convincing winner ahead of Ian Lougher and a young Guy Martin. It was Martin’s maiden TT rostrum and he’d prove to be a major rival for the next ten years.
It was all change for 2006 as John joined HM Plant Honda, the Japanese giant returning to the TT in an official capacity once more and the combination of John and Honda would go on to become one of the most successful partnerships ever seen at the TT races. John opened his account in both 2006 and with the team with yet another start to finish victory in the Superbike race. Aided by a new outright lap record of 127.933mph, John saw off the early challenges of Ian Hutchinson and Ian Lougher to win by more than half a minute.
As well as the HM Plant Honda Fireblade for the 1000cc classes, John also had a CBR600RR at his disposal for the solitary Junior 600cc race at TT2006. Having last won in the class two years before, John was keen to get back to winning ways and his practice form was strong, less than a second slower than the table topping TAS Suzuki of Bruce Anstey. In the four-lap race though, John was never headed although he had to work hard as could be seen when he increased his own class lap record to 123.975mph second time around. He eventually beat Ian Hutchinson by 9.5s with Anstey taking third.
With two wins already in the week, as well as a solid fifth in the Superstock race, John was aiming to complete his hat-trick in the traditional curtain closer to the 2006 meeting, the six-lap Senior. Fine weather again blessed the island, but it was close early on with John’s lead over Guy Martin less than four seconds after the first lap, despite setting the first ever 128mph+ lap of the Mountain Course. Flying high here over Ballaugh Bridge, the hot pace saw John go even quicker second time round at a superb 129.451mph and the new outright lap record saw him break the opposition. He duly completed his second TT hat-trick to come home 25s clear of new Aussie sensation Cameron Donald.
2007 saw the TT celebrate its Centennial year but bad weather meant the opening Superbike race was moved from Saturday to Monday where John’s main challengers were young pretenders Guy Martin and Ian Hutchinson and another Honda rider Ian Lougher. Martin was only 4.5s adrift at the end of the opening lap but that was as close as anyone got and, just like previous races, John was able to gradually pull away in the following laps. With the fastest lap of the race, 128.279mph, John’s lead was as high as half a minute at one stage and he was able to ease off on the final lap, coming home 26s ahead of Martin with team-mate Hutchinson in third. Pictured here showing his usual impeccable style at Quarter Bridge.
The weather was perfect for the final race of TT2007 and with numerous dignitaries and famous riders from the past in attendance the scene was set for a thrilling finale. Guy Martin and Ian Hutchinson were keen to get the better of John after the Superbike race and Hutchinson’s win in the Junior more than showed his capabilities. However, John had other ideas and a stunning opening lap of 129.883mph gave him an already formidable looking 10s lead. Second time around he upped the pace even further and history was made as he set the first ever 130mph lap around the Mountain Course at 130.354mph. His lead almost doubled, and he continually pulled away to take a 32s win with Martin and Hutchinson again having to settle for second and third.
The official Honda team took a year out from the international road races in 2008 and that meant John lined up in all classes at the TT that year riding for Padgetts Honda, the team he was riding for in the British Supersport Championship. He was forced to retire in the opening Superbike race but bounced back with second place in both the Superstock and Supersport races. However, he saved the best until last with victory in the six-lap Senior after a titanic battle with the Relentless by TAS Suzuki of Cameron Donald. There was never more than two seconds between the duo in the first four laps, but Donald had eked out a 4.8s lead going into the final lap although a heavy landing at the Bottom of Barregarrow saw his bike suffer an oil leak. He was forced to ease the pace in the closing stages and John took full advantage, sweeping to his 14th TT win to match the total of the great, late Mike Hailwood.
John was back with the official HM Plant Honda team in 2009 where he was joined by rapid team-mate Steve Plater whilst the likes of Guy Martin, Ian Hutchinson, Bruce Anstey and Cameron Donald would again provide stiff opposition as would local ace Conor Cummins. The latter was John’s closest challenger at the end of the first lap of the Superbike race and was only five seconds adrift, but the race followed the trend of recent years and John steadily eased away from the chasing pack. Another new outright lap record, 130.442mph, showed his command of the Mountain Course – with similar command of Ballaugh Bridge shown here – and he eventually won by 18s with Plater and Martin joining him on the podium.
HM Plant again dropped out of road racing competition at the end of 2010 and the team was re-branded Honda TT Legends a year later with John keen to get back to winning ways after a barren 2010 when he was an early retirement in both the Superbike and Senior races. Along with team-mates Cameron Donald and Keith Amor, John was also competing in the World Endurance Championship but, for the TT, Donald was riding for Wilson Craig Racing instead. However, it was another Honda rider, Bruce Anstey, who led John in the early stages of the 2011 Superbike race. The Kiwi was forced to retire on lap three though and that paved the way for John to dominate the remaining six laps. Pictured here at Braddan Bridge, John won by almost a minute with Donald in second and Gary Johnson, on another Honda, in third.
After dominating the 2011 Superbike race, many expected John to do the same in the Blue Riband Senior race but it was anything but as Guy Martin, in particular, and Bruce Anstey pushed him all the way. The Suzuki of Martin led by a healthy 4.5s at the end of the opening lap of the Mountain Couirse with Anstey in second and John in third and the order remained the same next time around with just five seconds covering the trio. Aviating the front wheel here at St Ninian’s crossroads, John made his move on lap three when he hit the front for the first time although it would be another lap before he had firm control of the race. With a 13s lead heading into the final lap, he was able to ease his pace slightly in the closing stages, eventually taking the win from Martin by 7.2s with Anstey a similar distance behind in third.
With 11 wins in the previous 16 ‘big bike’ races, John was again seen as the man most likely to win at the 2012 TT especially as the combination of John, the Honda Fireblade and the Honda TT Legends team remained. This was emphasised when John topped the leader board in practice although it was the similar Fireblade of Cameron Donald that led in the early stages of the Superbike race albeit by just 0.2s! John overhauled the Wilson Craig Racing rider on the second lap around the Mountain Course with his lead up to six seconds at half race distance. He lapped quicker than his rival in each of the next three laps and, peeling here into the Nook, ran out winner by almost 15s.
Victory in the Superbike race at the beginning of the 2012 meeting was John’s 18th TT success in total but, amazingly, that tally didn’t include success in the Superstock category. However, he put that right a few days later when he came out on top whilst riding the Padgetts Honda. John had been riding in the class for the Batley-based team since 2009, both on the roads and in the British Superstock Championship, and confidence was high ahead of the four-lap race although his lead over Ryan Farquhar at the end of the first 37.73 miles was just 0.17s! That was the signal to put the hammer down and at the end of the next lap his advantage had crept up to 4s. It broke the Northern Irishman’s spirited challenge and John duly took his first Superstock win with Michael Dunlop just edging out Farquhar for second.
John paid homage to Joey Dunlop in the 2013 Superbike race as he rode in replica colours to what his hero had ridden in on his way to a famous victory in the 2000 Formula One race. However, a one-minute penalty for speeding in the pit lane meant John could only finish third despite setting a new outright lap record of 131.671mph on his sixth and final lap. With no distractions or pit lane mistakes in the Senior though, it was a different story in the final race of the week and after overhauling Michael Dunlop on the second lap, John was never headed for the remainder of the race. Dunlop had won four races that week but victory in the Senior as well as the aforementioned outright lap record was a gentle reminder that John, showing spectacular style here at St Ninian’s crossroads, had no intention of relinquishing the tag of the current ‘King of the Mountain’.
Introduced in 2009, the TT Zero race, for electric-powered motorcycles, never grabbed the imagination of the public, largely due to the lack of entries that were sometimes less than ten a year. But there can be no doubt the feats achieved by both the Moto Czysz and Mugen teams cannot be underestimated. With Michael Rutter on the American-built Moto Czysz and John on the Honda-owned Mugen, there was little to choose between the duo in 2012 and 2013 as they strove for the first 100mph and then 110mph lap. Rutter just came out on top on each occasion but with no Moto Czysz on the entry in 2014, John was able to take victory at the third attempt. A wrist injury meant it was a tough week on the island but, sweeping here through Greeba Castle, a new lap record of 117.366mph helped him get the better of team-mate Bruce Anstey.
With Moto Czysz again absent from the TT Zero entry list in 2015, the single lap race was a straight battle between John and Mugen team-mate Bruce Anstey. Development of the electric-powered Mugen was happening at a rapid pace and after a best lap of 102.215mph in 2012 a 120mph lap was now more than a distinct possibility three years later. John ultimately fell just short but a stunning new lap record of 119.279mph again helped him see off the challenge of Anstey, this time by four seconds. The image here shows John taking Signpost Corner, just a couple of miles away from the chequered flag.
It’s hard to believe that it’s seven years since John last tasted victory at the Isle of Man TT but there can be no doubt that his most recent win, in the 2015 Senior, is one of his best. The original race was stopped on the second lap after Jamie Hamilton crashed heavily at the end of the Cronk y Voddy straight and, having seen his odds at the bookmakers at a distant 18-1, few could recall seeing John more determined before a race start. Cut to four laps, an opening lap of 131.850mph gave him a narrow 1.2s lead over arch-rival Ian Hutchinson but second time around John shattered the outright lap record with a speed of 132.701mph. The lap put him firmly in the driving seat and, cresting the bump here at Union Mills, he eventually ran out winner by more than 14s from James Hillier with Hutchinson having to settle for third.