Author: Bike Social Sports Reporter Posted: 24 May 2014
Practice for the 2014 Isle of Man TT kicks off this week, with bikes setting off down Bray Hill for the first time this year on Saturday 24th May weather dependent. It’s a big year for the two week motorcycling festival with what could be argued as one of the most open fields ever. Any one of five, six maybe even seven riders could take victory in the blue riband event, the Senior TT, come Friday 6th June.
BIKENATION.co.uk LIGHTWEIGHT TT
Now in its third year since being reinstated in 2012, the Bikenation.co.uk Lightweight race will take place once again on the morning of Senior Race Day. Comprised of four stroke, twin cylinder bikes up to 650cc, the lightweight race never fails to excite. Thirty-five riders will compete in this year’s race, including huge TT stars such as Michael Dunlop and former Grand Prix racer Danny Webb and not forgetting Ryan Farquhar and Keith Amor who are out of retirement to compete in the race.
James Hillier took victory in last year’s event with an astonishing best lap of 117.694mph. Dean Harrison crossed the line second with Manxman Conor Cummins third. Hillier will set off at number two this year, behind Ivan Lintin with Harrison setting off twelfth. Cummins will not race this year’s lightweight, opting to focus on his Supersport and Superbike campaigns.
When he last raced in the event, Ryan Farquhar took his KMR Kawasaki to the top step and will be looking to show he’s still got it as he steps out of retirement. Another one to watch is Olie Linsdell, who takes to the track on the stunning new Paton S1 race bike.
Last year the Superstock race was dominated by Ballymoney man, Michael Dunlop who was well and truly on his way to claiming four TT victories in a week. Dunlop lapped the 37.75 mile course at over 128mph hour to take victory ahead of Gary Johnson and John McGuinness.
This year, Dunlop lines up on a BMW HP4 for the Superstock race once again in his own, MD Racing colours. He’s already shown the bike is capable of running at the front by taking victory in the second North West 200 Superstock race just last week.
Twenty-time TT race winner, John McGuinness sat out of the Superstock races at the North West 200 because of pain from the wrist he broke just eight weeks ago. While the road racing superstar is expected to start every race on the Island, it will be interesting to see how his wrist holds up.
Michael Dunlop won both 600cc races last year and will line up once again on his own MD Racing Honda for the smaller class, with BMW not offering a 600cc machine of Supersport spec. You can never rule out the Ballymoney man and he heads into the week as one of the favourites in yet another category.
Bruce Anstey bagged second place both times out last year, the New Zealand rider rapid on the Padgetts CBR600RR. Getting on a bit hasn’t slowed the Kiwi, who took victory in wet conditions in the second Supersport race at the North West. As John McGuinness once told us, if Bruce gets out of bed on the right side, he is a strong force.
The elder Dunlop brother, William is also known for his skills on a Supersport machine. His only two TT podiums came in the 600cc class and he’ll be looking to go better than his best result of third place this time out with Tyco Suzuki.
Ian Hutchinson has four Supersport TT victories to his name and the Milwaukee Yamaha R6 is far from slow. Hutchy’s team mate, Aussie boy Josh Brookes will also be one to watch. Despite not having ridden a 600 since 2009, Brookes grabbed the R6 by the horns at the North West 200 to take his debut podium. It might be too early for race victories for the BSB championship contender but he might not be far off.
The Smiths Triumph pairing of Gary Johnson and Michael Rutter could well be up there, taking a British manufacturer to the top in a TT race for the first time in an age.
SUPERBIKE & SENIOR
For 2014, the game is very much on in the big bike classes with any one of six or seven riders capable of taking victory with the machinery they are on.
After a tough North West 200, with his wrist much worse than he had first thought, all eyes will be on John McGuinness in these races. The TT legend has twenty TT victories to his name and has said he has no plans to retire yet, but it could be a tough year for the Morecambe missile.
His only saving grace is that his biggest rival, Michael Dunlop is also on the back foot a little. The BMW S 1000 RR has little TT experience, so practice week will be vital for the Hawk Racing Team and Dunlop. The BMW is notoriously difficult to find a set up with so to find one for a 38 mile course is a big ask. Nevertheless, Dunlop is the kind of rider who will take a bike and wrestle it into submission on the TT course, just as he did at the North West 200 to take victory in the second Superbike race.
He’s probably the most famous racer on the grid, but unbelievably Guy Martin is yet to take a TT victory. Will he do it on the Tyco Suzuki this year? His team mate, William Dunlop, has shown the GSXR1000’s potential already this year, shoving his brother out of the way to take victory in the first superbike race at the North West 200. Is it time for the elder Dunlop brother to step up to the plate in the big classes?
Ian Hutchinson and Josh Brookes line up for the Milwaukee Yamaha squad. Hutchinson, who took all five race wins in 2010, says he’s feeling fitter than ever so will be keen to show what he’s got after a difficult period. Josh Brookes took the accolade of fastest newcomer ever last year with an impressive 127mph lap. A podium result might be difficult for the Aussie in his second year but watch out for him cracking the 130mph barrier, a sure sign of improvement.
Conor Cummins lines up with the strongest set up he’s ever had at the TT. Could he be the one to catch the others napping?
Gary Johnson has had some bad luck at the TT in the last few years in terms of mechanical issues. Lining up on the Lincs Lifting Honda, the Brigg man knows what he has to do and is without a doubt capable of a good result.
Cameron Donald lines up on a heavily improved Norton with up to 200bhp this year. A race victory might be a cry too far for the ‘fastest plumber in the world’ but a top ten would be a cracking result for Stuart Garner’s outfit.
Saturday 31st May:
- 11:00 – Superbike TT race, 6 laps
- 14:00 – Sidecar TT Race 1, 3 laps
Monday 2nd June
- 10:45 – Supersport TT Race 1, 4 laps
- 14:00 – Superstock TT Race, 4 laps
Wednesday 4th June
- 10:45 – TT Zero Challenge, 1 lap
- 12:00 – Supersport TT Race 2, 4 laps
- 14:30 – Sidecar TT Race 2, 3 laps
Friday 6th June
- 10:15 – Lightweight TT Race, 3 laps
- 13:00 – Senior TT Race, 6 laps.
You can view the TV schedule here.