Road Racing News

TT 2018 Launch – Wrap Up

After a day of intriguing team/rider announcements, last evening’s TT 2018 launch at the Villa Marina provided a mix of candid interviews, banter a plenty, an update on Greenlight Television’s TT TV plans and most of all the sense that this years TT Races, will be ultra, ultra competitive.

Compered by Matt Roberts and Dave Moore, who are confirmed to be amongst the TT TV team for this year, in total grilled 17 racers, from solo/Sidecar background’s on stage.

Amongst the highlights of the evening, included John McGuinness walking on stage without crutches, you could sense how much this meant to the 23 times TT winner, who’s confident he will be fit enough for the start of TT 2018.

New Norton team mate Josh Brookes, added that he firmly believes the Norton of last year was capable of 133 mph laps, and that it’s a buzz to be the fastest Norton racer in TT history, and to work alongside this year TT great McGuinness.

Yeovil’s Martin Jessopp confirmed that for his fifth TT tenure, he will remain with his family run Riders Motorcycles team, whilst fellow anticipated Lightweight class front runner Ivan Lintin, candidly stated that one of his main aims for TT 2018, is to lap in excess of the illustrious 130 mph mark.

Fresh off a recent test aboard his Superstock steed for this May/early June, Adelaide’s David Johnson sounded quietly confident about the Gulf BMW Superbike package, which he stated is pretty much identical to Loris Baz’s Althea Racing World Superbike BMW steed, plus that it is the best machinery he’s had thus far in his Mountain Course career.

Photo by Jim Gibson

On stage at the stage time as his Australian Mountain Course counterpart, new RAF Regular and Reserves Kawasaki signing Gary Johnson added that alongside his stable of machinery for TT 2018 will also include piloting a 675 Daytona Triumph within the Monster Energy Supersport races.

Looking towards Honda’s TT challenge, it has to be said Ian Hutchinson didn’t sound overly confident about his chances of being race fit for this years TT Races.

The Bingley racer is hoping that the frame on his left leg, will at the latest come off by the end of April.

Team mate Lee Johnston who will also compete for Padgetts Racing in the Monster Energy Supersport class, spoke highly of the factory Honda Racing team, adding that the team is confident the troubles of 2017 are behind them, having experienced last year many a teething problem with the SP2 Fireblade.

Padgetts Conor Cummins, Silicone Engineering Racing’s Dean Harrison, Tyco BMW’s Dan Kneen, Quattro Plant JG Speedfit Kawasaki’s James Hillier all expressed confidence of challenging for Superbike/Senior success in early June.

Sidecars giants to grace the stage were the all conquering Birchall brothers Ben & Tom, plus Manx TT legend Dave Molyneux who’s outfit this year will run in a striking jet black colour scheme, and Dan Sayle, who was confirmed to link up again with Molyneux at TT 2018.

Photo by Jim Gibson

Final interviewee on stage, Michael Dunlop, kept his cards close to his chest, when pushed about his plans Superbike wise for this season.

He did say though that if a suitable package does not become available, he will run a Superbike under his own teams MD Racing banner, who in it’s right have become one of the most iconic TT teams of the modern era.

Outside of the interviewees, Matt Roberts/Dave Moore alongside confirming that the TT TV coverage for 2018 will remain on ITV4, also announced that the first TT 2018 programme will feature the culmination of a public vote, to see who is the greatest TT rider of all time.

The public have until the 31st of March to decide, who out of 20 riders including Joey Dunlop, Mike Hailwood, Steve Hislop, Phillip McCallen and David Jefferies are the undoubted Numero Uno, number 1 exponent of the most famous road racing event in the world.

Outside of it been overall a good event launch, astute roads aficionados stated online afterwards, there disappointment of not seeing any of this years TT newcomers interviewed.

Another gripe for many, was the lack of Sidecar talk on stage, outside of the above mentioned Birchall’s and Molyneux/Sayle.

Words by Stevie Rial