RST Superbike/Milwaukee Senior Races:
I will be the first to admit, I wasn’t sure I’d be writing TT previews again. Absent for the last two years the most famous of all road races is back!
Lots have been saying the three-year absence could affect the pace, those with more experience than others have a distinct advantage.
Will this prove true? In my opinion the standard will be as high as ever even better potentially than in 2018 and 2019.
The bulk of racers competing are super race fit, in good form post the North West 200, piloting lightning-fast high-spec machines and the old faithful Mountain Course, has had various subtle improvements.
Right, here’s a run-down of how the entry is shaping up for the blue riband RST Superbike, Milwaukee Senior races.
Before the Covid-19 pandemic struck, FHO Racing’s Peter Hickman was the man to beat on 1000cc machinery at the TT, will this continue this summer?
On lap-record breaking pace at the North West 200, he showed pre major tyre problems the impeccable turn of speed he possesses.
Enjoying title support for his seventh TT campaign from Richard Rawling’s Gas Monkey Garage, Hickman’s M1000RR BMW steed sports a distinctive green, black, white livery.
Main challenger of recent TT’s Dean Harrison, leads the Kawasaki charge.
Racing for the DAO Racing squad, which maintains the nucleus of the prior Silicone Engineering Racing team, Bradford’s Harrison has been chipping away with Kawasaki’s latest ZX-10 model.
Having endured by his standards a low-key North West 200, he goes into TT 2022 perhaps a touch under the radar.
Outside of widely tipped pre-race favourites Hickman & Harrison, lots of focus will also be on the revelation of recent Triangle course competition, Davey Todd.
Milenco by Padgetts Todd ultra-impressed on route to second in the opening Superbike race and there’s no doubt that he is capable of front-running performances next month.
Quickly into the groove with Honda’s latest generation Fireblade mount, much is expected of the 2019 IRRC Superbike Champion, same applies to team-mate Conor Cummins.
Ten times a TT podium finisher, race success in June would go down unbelievably well with his thousands of supporters across the Isle of Man.
If you keep knocking at the door long enough, it will open and this could be the case for coffee shop, pizzeria owner Cummins.
Additional potential front runners include of course the enigma that is Michael Dunlop.
Let’s be honest preparation wise, it’s not been perfect with the end of a deal to race for PBM Ducati forcing him into a last-minute switch to new tackle, Hawk Racing Suzuki machinery.
Before well reported Dunlop tyre issues, the 19 times TT Champ had looked in decent fettle throughout qualifying, early stages of the opening NW200 Superbike encounter.
Racers like Ballymoney’s Dunlop are capable any time of surprising everyone, pulling-off miraculous race wins.
Could next month see him prove again that the impossible is possible? Time will tell. Fellow event legend, John McGuinness MBE back in Honda Racing colours, is quietly confident of been in the mix for first rate results.
Banking mileage a plenty during opening pre-season tests, opening National Superstock 1000 rounds, the North West 200, he heads into TT 2022 with a good frame of mind.
Whilst race wins may be a tough ask, podiums the same, you don’t overnight forget what’s needed to claim TT victories and I’m sure countless fans, fellow racers, road racing aficionados would be delighted if he turns back the clock and stands again on a Superbike race rostrum.
Others not to be discounted from taking top three finishes include Milwaukee BMW Motorrad’s Ian Hutchinson and James Hillier, sole rider for TT first timers Rich Energy OMG Racing Yamaha.
Added elite roads scene names competing include TT winners Michael Rutter (Bathams Racing), Gary Johnson (Specsavers/North Lincolnshire Motorcycles) and likely Supersport class front-runner Lee Johnston (Ashcourt Racing).
Remaining seeded runners are KTS Racing’s Powered by Steadplan’s Jamie Coward, Phil Crowe, Street Diner backed Sam West, Ducati TriOptions Cup front-runner Craig Neve.
Roadhouse Macau/FHO Racing’s Brian McCormack, triple Irish road race Superbike Champion Derek Sheils (The Roadhouse Macau BMW) and new Hawk Racing signing Shaun Anderson.
Further depth to the entry is provided by the likes of Michael Evans (Heattech Racing), Julian Trummer (WH Racing), Adam McLean (McAdoo Kawasaki), Rob Hodson (Dafabet Racing).
Michael Booth, the in-form Michael Sweeney (MJR Racing), Joey Thompson (Wilson Craig Racing), Paul Jordan (PreZ Racing).
Italian star Stefano Bonetti, Forest Dunn, Manx GP to TT graduates Nathan Harrison, Jim Hind and Stephen Parsons plus Team Classic Suzuki’s Tom Weeden and IRRC winners Lukas Maurer, David Datzer.
Joining them on the entry list are a host of experienced Mountain Course stalwarts, that includes Davy Morgan, Dave Hewson, Barry Furber, Spain’s Raul Torras Martinez, Richard Charlton, Rhys Hardisty, Michael Russell and Optimark Road Racing’s Xavier Denis.
Newcomers wise, it’s going to fascinating to see how seven times NW200 winner Glenn Irwin adapts to the fabled, mythical Mountain Course.
He’s put in lots of homework, put the hard yards in as he bids to make an accomplished debut at an event unlike any other worldwide.
Joining Honda Racing’s Irwin as newcomers sampling the six lap Superbike, Senior races are 2021 IRRC Supersport Championship runner-up Ilja Caljouw (Performance Racing Achterhoek) and National Superstock 600 podium finisher, top five finisher at Tandragee Milo Ward (DP Coldplaning/TC Racing).
Boasting an entry brimming with top calibre, world class quality, the big bike races of TT 2022 are guaranteed to provide spellbinding action.
We all have our crystal balls, saying this will happen, that could happen, they will win, they won’t win but the TT is unique, there is so many variables, you’d be brave to predict with exact certainty race results.
Intriguing 1000cc TT races ahead, could tyre decisions play a part, overheating engines, shrewd decisions during pit-stops, we will all know very soon.
Royal London 360 Superstock Race:
Often regarded as the most important race for the manufacturers, your always guaranteed racing of the highest order when it comes to Superstock Mountain Course competition.
It’s looking like the battle for class honours will be between BMW, Honda and Kawasaki with possibly a few Yamaha’s, Suzuki’s in the mix for standout results, as the five manufacturing giants take on each other around the unparalleled Mountain Course.
One of the firm pre-race favourites has to be a rider who’s progress at the TT Races, since his event debut in 2014, has been nothing short of seismic, lap record holder, reigning Superstock TT champion Peter Hickman.
Tipped by many to bank in June at minimum two victories or better, there’s not much if anything missing from his racing acumen.
Possessing an ice cool temperament, strong race fitness, talent, pace, determination and perhaps most of all the ability to get quicker as a race goes on, the opposition knows they will have to be at their best to dethrone the FHO Racing BMW rider.
Others capable of dominating this years’ Royal London 360 Superstock race include 19 times TT winner Michael Dunlop.
Again, competing under his own teams MD Racing banner with strong backing from Carl Cox Motorsport, the Ballymoney racer has an excellent Superstock TT record which includes three wins from 2011, 2013 and 2014.
Electing to race Honda’s latest generation Fireblade, he showed at the North West 200 by topping opening qualifying, leading the second stock 1000 encounter that the hunger, determination remains in bucket loads.
Another stock TT triumph next month? Don’t rule it out.
Honda’s ultra-rapid CBR 1000RR-R Fireblade SP model is also set to be raced National Superstock 1000 front runner Davey Todd.
One of the most in form riders heading to Mona’s Isle, Todd’s star rose ten-fold during the North West 200 and many predict he will claim a rostrum finish in the four lap Superstock race.
You’d be foolish to discount as well his Milenco by Padgetts team-mate Conor Cummins and 23 times winner John McGuinness MBE, who’s set to make soon his 100th TT race start.
Names not showcased yet who will also have podium finishing ambitions include DAO Racing’s Dean Harrison, Ashcourt Racing’s Lee Johnston, Ian Hutchinson (Milwaukee BMW Motorrad) and Rich Energy OMG Racing’s James Hillier.
Adding extra depth to the star studied stock 1000 field include nine times Macau GP winner Michael Rutter (Bathams Racing), Jamie Coward (KTS Racing Powered by Steadplan), Phil Crowe, Dominic Herbertson, Brian McCormack (FHO Racing/Roadhouse Macau).
High-profile newcomer Glenn Irwin, Derek Sheils, Craig Neve, Hawk Racing’s Shaun Anderson, Duke Road Race Rankings Champion Michael Sweeney, Senior Manx GP winner Nathan Harrison, PreZ Racing’s Paul Jordan, Michael Evans.
Adam McLean (McAdoo Kawasaki), Joe Thompson (Wilson Craig Racing), Josh Daley, Team Classic Suzuki’s Tom Weeden, Jim Hind and the Peoples Bike Team trio of Stephen Parsons, Rhys Hardisty and Jonathan Perry.
Overseas favourites competing include Spain’s Raul Torras Martinez, Xavier Denis, Brandon Cretu, WH Racing’s Julian Trummer, Lukas Maurer, Penz 13 supported David Datzer, Stefano Bonetti, newcomer Ilja Caljouw and TT returnee, previous Dakar Rally participant Julien Toniutti.
With the Superstock TT lap record, presently standing at in excess of 134 mph, providing the weather is correct and everything falls into place, could 135 mph laps by stock steeds be on the horizon this June?
A whole host of determined, ambitious, driven International road racing giants, are capable of this unique feat in what is set to be a gripping four lap Royal London 360 Superstock TT.
Monster Energy Supersport Races:
Traditionally producing some of the closest racing on the Mountain Course, you’d be brave to call who could emerge triumphant from the four lap Monster Energy Supersport races of TT 2022.
One of the obvious favourites for middleweight class honours is five times North West 200 winner, first time TT winner in 2019, Lee Johnston.
Ever cheerful, personable, a happy go lucky character, the British Supersport front-runner set to race potent YZF R6 Yamaha tackle is also extremely ambitious and ultra-keen to add more TT success to his roads CV.
Supersport race 2 victor at the returning North West 200, Ashcourt Racing’s Johnston could prove the dominant force next month, he’s only to aware though that the opposition is stern, immense.
Fellow countryman Michael Dunlop also has his eyes firmly set on a victorious TT voyage.
The Ballymoney racer who’s set to pilot his own teams R6 Yamaha, mix of fierce determination, shrewd race tactics and the ability to ride harder at times than many of his rivals, makes him a formidable exponent of Supersport machinery.
Alongside traditional 600cc steeds, new imposed regulations have allowed machines such as Triumph’s Street Triple 765 RS, Kawasaki’s 636 model to enter the fray.
Elite names making the decision to race aforementioned bikes include outright lap-record holder Peter Hickman.
Absent from the North West 200 entry due to existing technical regulations, the above showcased regulations at the TT allow Hickman to race his own outfits’ 765cc, K2 Trooper Beer backed Triumph mount.
Will the extra CC give the five times TT winner the edge in June? It’s another of those questions all road racing aficionados are keen to find out.
Hickman’s persistent main big bike TT rival of recent times, DAO Racing’s Dean Harrison also switches to Evo Supersport machinery.
16 times TT podium finisher Harrison whilst perhaps not as tipped for success as he was in 2018 and 2019, remains an anticipated front-running threat and it wouldn’t be a surprise if he returns to the top step of the podium.
Same notion applies given his stellar class record to Ian Hutchinson, who races under the Boyce Precision Engineering/Russell Racing banner.
Former employers, Padgetts Racing, (Milenco by Padgetts), enjoyed a superb FonaCAB & Nicholl Oils North West 200 and go into TT 2022 quietly optimistic that rostrum finishes a plenty can be secured.
Number 11 plate holder, Ramsey’s Conor Cummins forms again part of the vastly successful Padgetts team, alongside ‘Man of The Moment’ Davey Todd.
Both hugely talented, in particular lots of focus will be on second quickest newcomer in TT history Todd, given his lap record-breaking exploits at the North West.
Don’t discount as well the likes of Rich Energy OMG Racing’s James Hillier, KTS Racing Powered by Steadplan’s Jamie Coward from battling for podiums.
Others certain to be in the mix for strong finishes include TT legend John McGuinness MBE (SMT Racing/Blue Earth Construction), twice TT winner Gary Johnson, PreZ Racing’s Paul Jordan plus fellow improving talents Adam McLean (McAdoo Kawasaki) and Dominic Herbertson (Cowton Racing).
Added confirmed entrants include Duke Road Race Rankings Champion Michael Sweeney (EM Building Yamaha), Sam West (Moto Hub), Brian McCormack (Global Robots Triumph), Michael Evans (Heattech Racing), Julian Trummer (WH Racing)
Craig Neve (Alasdair Cowan Racing), Joey Thompson (Wilson Craig Racing), Phil Crowe, Matt Rees, Shaun Anderson (Wilcock Consulting), IRRC Supersport winner Jonathan Goetschy, Japan’s Masayuki Yamanaka, Doncaster’s Mark Goodings, Thomas Maxwell, James Chawke.
Plus, Manx GP to TT graduates Nathan Harrison, Jim Hind (Bass Tyre Services), Stephen Parsons (Peoples Bike Team), Gary Vines, Pierre Yves Bian and Chris Sarbora.
Newcomers wise just four Mountain Course debutants are entered in what are set to be compelling, engrossing, and ultra-competitive Monster Energy Supersport races, Jamie Cringle, North West 200 winner Joe Loughlin and Pikes Peak International Hill Climb Champion Rennie Scaysbrook.
Gripping Lightweight class action is in prospect next month with a host of road racing’s ‘Alien’s allied to Manx GP winners, rising stars, improving event exponents all entered in the Bennetts Super Twins TT which now features Twin Cylinder 700cc machines.
Mountain Course maestro Michael Dunlop as in all classes at TT 2019 starts again one of the prime, major favourites for class success.
As during his previous class triumphs in 2018 and 2019, he sticks with Paton’s iconic S1-R steed.
Three successive Twins TT victories? It’s a distinct possibility for a rider that has proven the impossible is possible on more than one occasion.
Joining Ballymoney’s Dunlop in racing Paton’s include the Team ILR (Ian Lougher Racing) with Mark Coverdale squad.
Class winner in 2017, nine times Macau GP winner Michael Rutter knows what it takes to excel aboard Twins machinery whilst new team-mate, British Supersport points finisher, Lightweight Manx GP lap record holder Jim Hind is extremely capable of sealing at least a top eight, top six finish.
Remaining Team ILR team members are Japan’s Masayuki Yamanaka and TT newcomer Joe Loughlin.
Recently I caught up with the Castleblayney racer, to chat about his impending TT debut.
Our uncontrived conversation reads as follows:
Q1: It’s finally here TT 2022, how much are you looking forward to racing the fabled Mountain Course?
“I am really looking forward to it in the last week. There’s a lot of learning and work done in this last- few years but when it’s only weeks to go it’s all real now.”
Q2: What do you think will be the most challenging aspect about TT racing?
“The most challenging bit will be the concentration and mental endurance needed to do a 4-lap race there.”
Q3: Do you see yourself racing the TT for multiple years?
“I am a newcomer so if I don’t like it that would be it for me but I can see it being a great track and coming back for more in future.”
Q4: Has your form at the North West given you added belief about your capabilities on the roads?
“I was surprised with my performance at the northwest but it doesn’t change much. I just had a great team and a good pre-season. It gives me great confidence that the team will get me round the TT safely.”
Maria Costello MBE and fellow recent North West 200 winner Pierre Yves Bian are also Paton mounted.
Although still a relative newcomer to Mountain Course affiliated action, underestimate the ebullient Yves Bian at your peril, a dark-horse for a strong result.
Kawasaki’s Lightweight class presence is as ever vastly strong, with once again more than fifty percent of the entry piloting ER6/Z650 machinery.
Race runner-up last year, KTS Racing Powered by Steadplan’s Jamie Coward, will be hoping his allocated plate number (No.1), is an omen for him to crack a coveted first TT victory.
Further depth to Kawasaki’s challenge is provided by Dafabet Racings’ Gary Johnson & Rob Hodson, PreZ Racing’s Paul Jordan, plus the in-form pair of McAdoo Kawasaki’s Adam McLean and current Duke Road Race Rankings Champion Michael Sweeney.
Others on Kawasaki’s capable of making a prominent impression include Cowton Racing’s Dominic Herbertson, WH Racing’s Julian Trummer, Heattech Racing’s Michael Evans, fellow Manx GP winner James Chawke.
TT Races Rider Liaison Officer John Barton, Barry Furber, Jonathan Perry (Peoples Bike Team), Craig Neve, Michal ‘Indi’ Dokoupil, Dave Moffitt, Optimark Road Racing’s Xavier Denis and TT debutant Jamie Cringle.
Aprilia’s RS660 steed which let’s be honest from viewing up close recent North West 200 competition, looked a touch down on power has many a famous pilot.
Arguably Aprilia’s best chance of success will be via Ashcourt Racing’s Lee Johnston, who took a brace of podiums at the North West.
You’d be foolish though to discount world’s fastest road racer Peter Hickman (PHR Performance), if all clicks into place, he could add Twins TT victory to his already golden Mountain Course racing resume.
Michael Russell planning to compete in all solo, Sidecar races! Cornwall’s Forest Dunn, Spain’s Raul Torras Martinez, Stefano Bonetti, Brian McCormack (JT Performance by Global Robots), Dave Hewson, Jonathan Goetschy, Mike Norbury have also elected to race the highly-regarded RS660.
Yamaha, CF Moto, Suzuki additionally enjoy representation albeit minor in the Bennetts Super Twins TT, which has all the ingredients needed to be the most competitive race of TT 2022.
So, who will stand on the top step of the podium? Hebden Bridge’s Coward, modern era TT giants Dunlop or Hickman, British Supersport front-runner Johnston, rising talents McLean, Jordan, Sweeney.
I can’t call it I’m not sitting on the fence! One thing is for sure whoever takes the class spoils will have found that piece of something special, something unique, something other-worldly to conquer the fabled, mythical Mountain Course.
3 Wheeling.Media Sidecar Races:
A who’s who of Sidecar racing will embark upon Mountain Course competition this week, which includes the all-conquering TT team of recent years the Birchall brothers, Ben and Tom.
Having won nine of the last ten Sidecar TT races, they’ve already established themselves as unquestionably true three wheeling TT legends.
Will they reign supreme again this year? There’s no doubt that they have the undoubted talent plus the machinery in the form of their own teams, Haith supported Honda powered outfit, to further bulk up their already majestic TT CV.
Anticipated leading challengers to the Mansfield duo include fellow Mountain Course legend Dave Molyneux, who’s teamed up this year with Beverley’s Daryl Gibson.
One of just two teams to switch from 600cc to parallel twin cylinder 890cc-900cc engines, A&J Groundworks/Carl Cox Motorsport backed Molyneux/Gibson will be hoping to give KTM their first ever TT podium finishes.
Can ‘Moly’ gain another TT triumph? Will Gibson join the TT winners circle? Time will tell but discount the duo who mix vast experience, next gen talent, and consistent race winning craft, from contending for standout results at your peril.
Runner-up in both Sidecar races of TT 2019, twice TT winner John Holden (Barnes Racing) has a new sidekick for his latest TT tenure in the form of Jason Pitt.
Third in last year’s Molson Group British Sidecar Championship, a World Sidecar points finisher alongside multi-TT winner Holden, there’s no doubting Mountain Course newcomer Pitt’s aptitude aboard three-wheel machinery.
Alongside Holden/Pitt others with ambitions of prodigious race stints include Pete Founds/Jevan Walmsley who bring BSB race winners FHO Racing into the Sidecar paddock plus World Championship front runners Tim Reeves/Kevin Rousseau (Rich Energy Bonovo Action Racing).
Like the aforementioned Pitt, Frenchman Rousseau is another notable TT newbie.
Same notion applies to Oliver’s Mount Scarborough ‘King Pin’ Lee Crawford.
Linking up with regular passenger Scott Hardie, Team A.R.C’s Crawford has already showcased at Scarborough and the Southern 100 why he is so highly rated.
Whilst top five finishes may a tough ask during his first TT, it wouldn’t at all be a surprise to see him mix with it established, seasoned TT campaigners.
The 3Wheeling.Media Sidecar entry also features:
Former TT Champions Conrad Harrison/Andy Winkle, Carl Fogarty supported Lewis Blackstock/Patrick Rosney, Baker Honda mounted Gary Bryan/Phil Hyde.
Fastest Sidecar TT newcomers in history, 2019 RST Star of Tomorrow award winners Ryan Crowe/Callum Crowe (Haven Homes), Steve Ramsden/Matty Ramsden (Ramsden Racing), Harry Payne/Mark Wilkes (DAO 1886).
Craig Melvin/Stuart Christian (PH Racing), Wayne Lockey/Matty Rostron, Darren Hope/Lenny Bumfrey, Greg Lambert/Ben McBride, Yorkshiremen Gary Gibson/Tom Christie.
Not forgetting prospective history maker Michael Russell joining forces with Dave Dean, Estelle Leblond/Clement Carre (Optimark by PerformanX), Bruce Moore/Ashley Moore.
Maria Costello MBE/Vicky Cooke (Mark Coverdale/RAM Safety Solutions) and newcomers Craig Currie (Haith Honda), Goulven Crochemore, Cesar Chanal/Olivier Lavorel, Shaun Chandler/Ben Chandler.
Overall, a top-quality entry list for the Sidecar encounters of TT 2022.
It’s just a shame to report that entry numbers are again below forty and are down on the number of entries received in 2019.
Hopefully Sidecar races have a brighter future in prospect at the TT Races, they provide something different from the norm, mixing specialist engineering, proper old school racing with moments of absolute motorsport brilliance.