The second most successful bloke of all time around the Isle of Man TT Mountain Course is 23-time winner John McGuinness. He isn't called 'King of the Mountain' for nothing.
Having competed at the TT since 1996, the 45-year old 'Morecambe Missile' knows what it takes to piece together a good lap time, in fact in this year marks the tenth anniversary if the first ever 130mph average lap speed. Set by McGuinness, of course.
So, we took a couple of 2017 Honda Fireblades to the Isle of Man and asked the man himself to show us his top five critical parts of the 37.73-mile TT course that, if he gets them spot on, a 130mph+ lap time is most definitely on.
You have to be on-point right away from the word go
It’s really important because it’s only 10 seconds from the start and the nerves have been jangling and you drop the clutch after all the hype and pressure after no sighting lap and no chance to get warm. The first section has always been the part of the circuit where I could make the most time up. It’s important to be 'on it' from the moment the flag drops. The bike is full of fuel and has cold tyres and is a bit unstable but of course laps 1, 3 and 5 are different to 2 and 4 because of the full fuel tank and new tyre and it the bike can be a bit of a pig. With the road-ends all the way down causing slights crests in the main road I tend to stay 6-feet to left of the kerb on the inside at the bottom of Bray Hill to carry the momentum up and over Ago's Leap. You can’t afford to drop anytime through here. If I tell anybody where to watch for their first TT, it’s here. With the 600s you feel as though can boss it through here but sometimes on the big bikes you can feel like a bit of a passenger!
The approach is so, so fast flat out in top and you go over a blind crest and as soon as you go over it you tip her in. It’s fast in and fast out and I always think "I could have gone faster through there". It’s full commitment and you need to carry the speed because it's flat out through Crosby and up to Greeba Castle. The corner is cambered and downhill but with a blind entry and flat out in 6th. You’re back one gear on a big bike and just a slight roll on a 600.
It’s one of those corners where you’ve almost got too much time to think about it. A lot of the others just flow from one to the other so you haven’t got time. This is both scary and important...and you've just got to get it right.
It’s a really technical, physical and dangerous part of the circuit. The bike is always on the side of the tyre and never full throttle. The whole section from Ballacraine up past Sarah's Cottage is difficult to learn for a newcomer because so much of it looks similar and there's no room for error so there's a lot of time that can be lost here. It can also be damp under the trees.
If you can get a real good run out of Sarah’s Cottage it’s good to get some speed down the Cronk-y-Voddy straight.
It’s a natural, flowing left-right-left-right section where it’s important to carry the momentum through the bends because they lead onto the Sulby Straight - arguably the fastest section of the track. You can be patient and sacrifice entry speed for the right line and then sweep through otherwise you'll be fighting the bike all the way through. The bike’s on the side of the tyre so the rpm picks up quickly and it feels mega when you get it right. It’s also nice and smooth and really grippy.
Out of the Gooseneck it’s so steep and it’s important to keep the speed through the two lefts up past Joeys and through Guthries is so important for the momentum over the mountain. It's all uphill and the more speed you can get out of the Gooseneck will be beneficial over the iconic mountain.
Just after this section there’s a cheeky little right-kink with two walls and you get to every time wanting to get through it every time just a little bit quicker ready for the Mountain Mile. You’ve worked hard through the section so once you get there I wiggle my toes and fingers, look at the dashboard.
Thanks to John McGuinness, Honda UK, Beach Media (video) and Stephen Davison/Pacemaker Press (photos)