Author: Oli Rushby Posted: 03 Jul 2015
John McGuinness made history at this year’s Isle of Man TT by becoming the fastest man ever to lap the 37.73 mile mountain course as he charged to his 23rd TT victory in the Senior Race.
The victory came after many had written the Honda Racing star off. After breaking his wrist in 2014, his results last year left a lot to be desired and with the exception of a strong fourth place in the Superbike race, the Morecambe Missile didn’t look like he’d light the world up at this year’s TT either.
Except he did. McGuinness woke up on the Friday morning and decimated the opposition to take win number 23. Even after the hour-long stoppage following Jamie Hamilton’s unfortunate crash, McGuinness appeared to be racing on another planet.
“I was a bit frustrated before Friday at the TT; I wanted more,” he said speaking exclusively to Bike Social. “My results, seventh and eighth, weren’t disgusting but they weren’t what I wanted. It’s so, so competitive. It’s unbelievable.
“I’m a funny sort of person me, I read stuff on social media and there were people saying I’d lost it and that Hutchinson or Bruce were going to win or Michael on the BMW, so I thought ‘right, I’m not finished yet’.
“On the Thursday afternoon I went and chilled with the family, there wasn’t a motorbike in sight. I regrouped, recharged and had a good sleep that night.”
But what was it that changed? Did McGuinness wake up on that Friday morning knowing he’d be able to charge to victory in the Senior TT and shatter the lap record? Or did he just have to believe he could?
“You can never tell yourself you’re going to win, I just told myself that I’m as good as these guys and that I’ve been round the place bloody fast before,” he explained. “I was at number one with clear boards and knew I had to be sharp from the start. If you get to your first pit board and it says P5 minus whatever, it knocks you. I saw P1 and thought ‘the job is on’ and went from there. I’m always weak up to Glen Helen, so I focused on being stronger, I went in deeper, I was harder on the brakes and it worked.
“We got let off the hook a bit by Hutchy as he made a mistake by running on at Signpost but that’s how it is round here. We were faster in the pits so we were in and out of there quicker than him.
“Lap three was probably a better lap than the fastest on lap two as I matched all the sectors across that lap to really break it and then lap four was a cruising lap.”
What does that feel like having smashed the lap record and pulled 20 seconds out on a man who had won three TTs that week?
“It’s great to be in that position, to have +20sec lead knowing you’re almost there so you can have a nice leisurely ride around the Isle of Man,” he responded. “I wanted to take a bow but it’s never over until it’s over! I concentrated on not making any mistakes, hitting every apex – I didn’t think it was real. ‘Where’s everybody gone?’ I thought.”
Every year people talk of McGuinness’ retirement, but he shows no sign of letting up yet.
“You’re only as good as your last race around there and in my last race we humped them. I thought I’d be well finished by now, I did not think I’d be this strong at this age. I love working with the team I work with, I have no pressure from my family, I’m still making a quid or two and I still enjoy it. Why not? Bruce is 45 and he’s still winning races. I can still do it, I need to make sure we’re happy with everything and who we’re working with and have another go. I think there are a few more wins left in me.”
What about that lap? The lap. 132.701mph average speed including coming off the power to head into the pits for fuel.
“I gave it everything on the second lap but I can’t remember why it was that quick. I went down Bray Hill and thought ‘come on, come on, come on’ and maybe it was that. I concentrated so much I can’t even remember it. I knew I was giving it some because I’m not really a back-it in type person but I was on that lap, we were backing it in and sliding around. There’s some footage showing me at the 32nd milestone and then three minutes later I’m at the finish line! I suppose as far as a perfect lap goes, it wasn’t a million miles away. I didn’t run wide anywhere, I hit every apex. It was one of the best laps I’ll ever achieve and if it had been a flying lap it would have been under 17 minutes, so it’s there!”