Mission Possible: The quest for the 133mph TT lap

Author: Oli Rushby Posted: 16 May 2016

John McGuinness on his way to the lap record in 2015

Each year as the Isle of Man TT approaches, there’s plenty of talk of the lap record being broken. For the past few years the question on everyone’s lips is whether a sub-17 minute (133mph) lap is possible.

It was a big ask ahead of the 2015 races, but with John McGuinness shattering the existing record in last year’s Senior to assert his dominance around the 37.73-mile mountain course with a 132.701mph (17 minutes 03 seconds) lap, a 133mph could be what it takes to clinch the win this year.

It is more than possible and McGuinness knows that more than anyone. During his sensational charge to victory, he was timed from pit-board to pit-board and missed out on the sub-17 minute by a fraction of a second.

This year the TT boasts one of the most competitive line-ups ever. Four riders on the grid, McGuinness, Bruce Anstey, Michael Dunlop, and James Hillier have all lapped in excess of 132mph, with comeback King Ian Hutchinson knocking on the door after his unexpected hat-trick of victories last year.

But a competitive line-up isn’t everything, McGuinness explains… “You’re going to have to do that sort of pace to win this year, but it depends on the conditions.

“The conditions were perfect for last year’s Senior. There was no wind, the track temperature was good and the grip was right up. You never know with the Isle of Man, sometimes there’s been a road accident or a farmer has dropped some cow shit on the road and the conditions just aren’t good enough to push to that level.”

Heading into 2016 with his new Tyco BMW team, Hutchinson joins McGuinness as a clear favourite for victory this year. While echoing his rival’s thoughts on conditions, the Yorkshireman believes he now has the tools to go faster than he did last year.

“If the conditions are right, I think I can get more out of the BMW just from stability,” he explains. “The Kawasaki last year wasn’t the most stable bike I’ve ever ridden and it didn’t like doing jumps so every time I was in the air I lost a fair bit of time. The record is always going to keep moving on and if someone is doing that sort of speed then the rest of us have no choice so it sort of pulls us along.”

Having joined the 132mph club in the 2015 Senior TT despite riding injured, Michael Dunlop also believes it could be time for the 17-minute barrier to be broken.

“There’s a wee bit to come yet,” he added. “There’s always stuff going on and you push harder and it’s a fine line but I think it’s time to reach it. We’ll just keep pushing. We all know how fast we can go but that doesn’t mean we’ll turn up on the day and do it.”

Practice for the 2016 Isle of Man TT races commences on Saturday May 28th. Keep logged into Bike Social for all the latest news, results and features from the world's most iconic road races.

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