It is time for the most iconic motorcycle road race in the world. The Isle of Man TT will take place over the next fortnight with the biggest names in road racing taking to the 37 and 3/4 mile Mountain Course.
The first International road race of the year took place just a fortnight ago and riders have also been in action at Oliver’s Mount and a number of Irish nationals such as the Mid-Antrim 150 and Tandragee 100.
Saturday 28th May
18.20 Solo newcomers speed controlled lap (untimed)
18.25 Sidecar newcomers speed controlled lap (untimed)
18.40 Lightweight/Supersport/Newcomers (all solo classes)
10.45 Monster Energy Supersport TT Race 1 (4 laps)
14.00 RL360 Superstock TT Race (4 laps)
Wednesday 8th June
10.45 Monster Energy Supersport TT Race 2 (4 laps)
13.45 Bennetts Lightweight TT Race (4 laps)
16.25 SES TT Zero (1 lap)
Friday 10th June
10.15 Sure Sidecar TT Race 2 (3 laps)
12.45 Pokerstars Senior TT Race (6 laps)
As always, ITV4 will have show a range of programmes throughout TT fortnight. The schedule is as follows (times are subject to change):
Monday 30th May – Hutchy: Miracle Man 21.00
Tuesday 31st May – Sidecar Superstars 21.00
Wednesday 1st June – Steve and James’ TT Road Trip 21.00
Thursday 2nd June – Preview Show 22.00
Friday 3rd June – Qualifying Highlights 21.00
Saturday 4th June – Superbike TT Race 21.00
Sunday 5th June – Sidecar TT Race 1 21.00
Monday 6th June – Supersport TT Race 1 21.00
Tuesday 7th June – Superstock TT Race 1 21.00
Wednesday 8th June – Supersport TT Race 2 21.00
Thursday 9th June – Lightweight TT Race and TT Zero 21.00
Friday 10th June – Senior TT 22.15
Saturday 11th June – Sidecar TT Race 2 22.15
Monday 13th June – Review Show 1 18.00
Tuesday 14th June – Review Show 2 19.00
Ian Hutchinson, Ivan Lintin and Michael Dunlop go into this year’s TT as winners from the North West 200. Hutchinson tasted Superstock victory while Dunlop won the only Superbike race. Lintin claimed wins in both the red flagged Supertwins races.
Last year at the TT there was a hat-trick of victories for Hutchinson who won both Supersport races as well as the Superstock class. Lintin won the Lightweight race – his first TT victory – while Bruce Anstey and John McGuinness won the Superbike and Senior races respectively. They will all undoubtedly be contenders at this year’s event. The Birchall brothers won both Sidecar races at last year’s event and will be hoping to repeat that feat in 2016.
Other riders to watch out for include Dean Harrison, William Dunlop, Cameron Donald on his Wilson Craig return, and Peter Hickman, amongst others. James Hillier, Gary Johnson, Michael Rutter and Conor Cummins are other riders who can never be discounted, starting inside the top ten. In other classes Lee Johnston, James Cowton and David Johnson are amongst the ones to watch.
There have been a number of significant headlines ahead of this year’s event. Here is a round-up of some of them:
A new streaming service called Inside Track has been launched on the IOMTT website. For a one-off fee of £6.99 fans can access exclusive behind-the-scenes videos. Race highlights will also be available to those in countries were these are not broadcast.
Bruce Anstey will race a Honda RC213V-S in the Superbike and Senior TT classes. Anstey commented: “It has always been a dream of mine to ride at MotoGP bike at the TT and this is as close as I’ll ever get.”
Conor Cummins has joined Anstey at the Valvoline Padgetts team for the Supersport and Superstock classes
Dan Kneen has been ruled out of the TT due to an injury sustained just before the North West 200. He will be joined on the sidelines by Ryan Farquhar who remains in hospital, but out of intensive care, following his North West 200 crash. Dan Cooper – who was also involved in Farquhar’s incident – was back on track at the TT but has revealed he is still struggling with pain in his shoulders. Malachi Mitchell-Thomas’ dad Kevin Thomas has brought his son’s ashes to be scattered at the event following the tragic events at the North West.
Formula One heads to the streets of Monte Carlo for the next round of the Formula One world championship.
The talking point after the Spanish Grand Prix was of course Formula One’s brand new race winner – Max Verstappen. He drove a faultless drive and capitalised when the Mercedes duo broke the cardinal rule of F1 – don’t crash into your team-mate. The Silver Arrows’ race came to a very premature end when Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton made contact at the fourth corner, spearing them both into the gravel trap and into early retirement from the race.
The prestigious Monaco Grand Prix is like no other on the calendar and is considered the jewel in the Formula One crown. Taking place on the tight and twisty streets of Monte Carlo, with Armco barriers just inches away, it is a race drivers particularly want to win. Like the Spanish Grand Prix qualifying is crucial around here although, while difficult, overtaking is not completely impossible.
Circuit: Circuit de Monaco Number of Laps: 78 Circuit Length: 3.337km Number of Corners: 19 Lap Record: 1:14.439 Michael Schumacher 2004 Previous Monaco winners still on the grid: 6 Most Successful Team: McLaren (15 wins) DRS Zones: 1 Pirelli Tyres: Soft, Supersoft and Ultrasoft
As Jenson Button explains Monaco requires a unique set-up like no other. The track requires “more traction, high downforce, more steering angle [and] softer suspension” for the cars. With the close nature of the barriers drivers require 100% focus because one little mistake could cost a retirement.
Pirelli are bringing their new Ultrasoft tyre compound to this race and it has been favoured by all teams and drivers in their selections.
Nico Rosberg is the form man in Monaco winning the past three events there. He also won the first four races of the year and could have made it five last time out in Spain. While Lewis Hamilton had sat in second place in the championship, that spot is currently filled by Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen who finished second in Spain. Rosberg leads on 100 points with Raikkonen on 61 and Hamilton on 57. Last year in Monaco Hamilton had built up a significant lead before a pit-stop gaffe cost him the victory as well as second place.
Monaco is a race which can see the order mixed up moreso than at any other circuit during the year. This means there is an opportunity for points for teams who may not necessarily always be fighting for them. Sauber and Renault are the only two teams yet to score any points so far this year.
The Ulster Grand Prix will have a new title sponsor this year in the form of MCE Insurance.
The motorcycle insurance company – which has sponsored the British Superbike Championship for nearly a decade – has signed a three year deal to become the title sponsor at the Ulster Grand Prix, starting this year. Metzeler tyres had previously been the title sponsor of the event.
“We are truly excited to make this major announcement which marks the beginning of an exciting new chapter for the Ulster Grand Prix,” Clerk of the Course Noel Johnston revealed. “We’ve seen and been impressed by the support MCE Insurance has offered the BSB in the past eight years. This is a company that understands bikes and the mentality of both bikers and bike fans, making it a fantastic fit for us. We believe [this] will allow us to really build our profile as the world’s fastest road race across the UK, Ireland and beyond.”
“For us, MCE’s decision to commit to a three year deal is a clear demonstration of confidence in the strength of our event,” Johnston continued. “[It] undoubtedly offers some of the most thrilling racing seen anywhere on the roads, and its ability to offer significant exposure and value to its partners. It goes without saying that there would be no event without the support of our stakeholders, and this is an opportunity for us to thank MCE for getting involved, as well as organisations such as Lisburn & Castlereagh City Council, Tourism NI and the Ulster Grand Prix Supporters Club, plus a wide range of private sector sponsors for their ongoing support.”
Race organisers recently announced the introduction of a Superpole qualifying session for the Superbike class at this year’s event. “We are working hard behind the scenes to deliver another spectacular week of racing this August,” Johnston concluded. “I don’t think the fans will be disappointed.”
For MCE it is a deal which they have been interested in for a while. “We are incredibly proud to finally release the news that we will be the title sponsor for the MCE Insurance Ulster Grand Prix,” CEO Julian Edwards said. “We have been interested in sponsoring a road racing event over in Ireland ever since we began offering insurance for Irish bikers back in 2014. When the opportunity at the Ulster came up it was one we just couldn’t refuse! With such an incredible history, the event truly is a jewel in the road racing calendar.”
“We intend to bring all our experience gained over nearly a decade of sponsoring MCE BSB and very much look forward to working with the Ulster Grand Prix team,” Edwards continued. “Racing is in our blood here at MCE and this is a very exciting new chapter for us.”
Ulster Grand Prix race week will take place from 8th until 13th August 2016.
2016 at the North West 200 saw records broken, the tragic loss of an impressive young rider, and a popular Dunlop victory.
Alistair Seeley surpassed Robert Dunlop’s all time win record at the event by winning both Supersport races. This now puts him on 17 wins – two more than Robert’s 15 – with Michael Rutter, the closest current rider, on 13 wins behind him.
Conditions at the event were near perfect with sunshine splitting the skies on every day of action – and everyday in between! As always practice sessions took place on Tuesday and Thursday during the day with racing starting on Thursday evening.
First up on the order was the first Supersport race, won by Seeley but he did not have it all his own way. Due to the nature of the track it lends itself to a lot of slipstreaming. This meant that a number of riders from the lead group had a turn in the lead. In the end he beat Ian Hutchinson and Martin Jessopp across the line.
Ian Hutchinson +1.290
Martin Jessopp +2.200
William Dunlop +5.995
Dean Harrison +6.581
Next on the agenda was the first Supertwin race which was blighted by red flags. The first of these was due to a house fire on the circuit which was dealt with swiftly. When racing resumed the red flags came out again after leaders had completed the third lap. Pole man Dan Cooper and Ryan Farquhar got caught up in an accident at Dhu Varren after Farquhar lost the front end. Cooper was reported to have dislocated both shoulders but was back in the paddock on Friday morning. Farquhar suffered more serious injuries and was airlifed to Belfast Royal Victoria Hospital. He has since been released from intensive care and has given interviews praising the North West 200’s medical team. Ivan Lintin was awarded the race win ahead of James Hillier and Jeremy McWilliams.
James Hillier +1.184
Jeremy McWilliams +10.681
Martin Jessopp +15.265
Malachi Mitchell-Thomas +1 lap
The Superstock race was postponed until Saturday. The second Supersport race was the first to be ran on the Saturday, with proceedings getting going swiftly after the roads had closed. It was to be another Seeley win this time with Jessopp second and Peter Hickman securing his first ever North West 200 podium in third. Just behind the podium trio was an impressive Malachi Mitchell-Thomas who started 16th and climbed up to fourth, just a second off a podium spot on his debut. Dean Harrison rounded out the top five with an aggrieved penalised Lee Johnston in sixth.
Martin Jessopp +6.589
Peter Hickman +24.642
Malachi Mitchell-Thomas +15.958
Dean Harrison +16.177
Thursday’s postponed Superstock race was next up and it was Hutchinson’s turn to stand on the top step of the podium. The race was run over five laps instead of the intended six and Hutchinson took the chequered flag first, albeit it by a narrow margin. It was another close run affair and in the end the top six riders were separated by just 3 seconds. Hickman finished second with Seeley in third.
Peter Hickman +0.615
Alistair Seeley +0.767
Michael Rutter +1.208
Michael Dunlop +1.633
It was local favourite Michael Dunlop who romped to victory in the Superbike class. He ended up five seconds clear of Hutchinson but the race was red flagged after the fourth lap meaning it could have been a bigger gap. Bruce Anstey was clocked through the speed trap at a record speed of 209mph but unfortunately it was the Kiwi who caused the red flag. He came off his bike at Church but was thankfully OK. His accident brought an end to his unique record as well of a podium at every North West 200 since his debut in 2002. Michael Rutter finished third.
Ian Hutchinson +5.206
Michael Rutter +5.524
Peter Hickman +5.686
Lee Johnston +6.464
The second Supertwins race proved to be the final race of the day after a fatal accident. It was a depleted grid following Farquhar and Cooper’s accident. Some riders also had to drop a race due to the rule of only being allowed to race five in a day. It was a close fought affair at the front with Lintin leading but the battle hot for second. Jessopp initially held the position but an impressive move by Mitchell-Thomas at the end of the second lap saw the newcomer up into second. The red flags came out after the leaders had completed the third lap. Sadly, it was Mitchell-Thomas off at Dhu Varren and the news soon came through that he had passed away. The race was declared with Lintin the winner.
Martin Jessopp +5.035
Jeremy McWilliams + 1 lap
James Cowton + 1 lap
Michael Sweeney + 1 lap
Understandably Event Director Mervyn White took the decision to cancel the final two races of the day.