TT 2023 previews time, it’s almost here, the latest Mountain Course racing extravaganza. Unfortunate recent incidents, mean that entries overall are down on last year. Despite this, the entry for the RST Superbike, Milwaukee Senior races, still oozes top draw quality. 14 nations are represented whilst the vast bulk of the field, has previously on one or more occasion recorded 120 mph laps. Seeded racers wise, no less than 64 TT wins have been accrued by those carrying start numbers 1-20. Nine of those aforementioned victories are courtesy of current TT ‘King Pin’, FHO Racing BMW’s Peter Hickman. Aiming to put aside drama at the North West 200, a tough Donington Park BSB round, Hickman is already an all-time event great. Beaten just once in 1000cc encounters since the Senior race of 2018, many anticipate him to start again warm favourite for big bike honours. Main challenger of recent TT’s Dean Harrison, again leads the Kawasaki charge. In a happy place with the DAO Racing squad, Harrison came close to Superbike success at the North West 200, closely matching the pace of Triangle course wizards Glenn Irwin and Alastair Seeley. Superbike or Senior race triumphs in June? Don’t be surprised and don’t be surprised as well if Milenco by Padgetts Davey Todd joins the TT winners’ circle. Reigning King of The Roads, Duke Road Race Rankings Champion, much is expected of the popular Yorkshireman, same applies to team-mate Conor Cummins. Twelve times a TT podium finisher, a 1000cc TT success next month would go down incredibly well with his thousands of supporters on Manx shores. If you keep knocking at the door long enough, it will open eventually and this could be the case for the ‘Ramsey Rocket’. Another racer in top contention for honours is 21st road racing icon, Hawk Racing’s Michael Dunlop. Going into TT 2023 in pretty decent form, the opposition knows a fully focused ‘Maverick’, allied to everything clicking together is a tough man to beat. Will he prove again that the impossible is possible? Time will tell. Fellow Honda machinery runner, TT giant John McGuinness MBE, is optimistic of challenging for first rate results. Whilst the heady days of Superbike race wins may be behind him, you don’t overnight forget what is 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 big bike TT podium. Others not to be discounted from top five finishes or better include James Hillier (LAMI OMG Racing) and notable TT racing returnee Josh Brookes (FHO Racing BMW). Added world-class roads scene names competing include RC213V-S Honda mounted Michael Rutter (Bathams Racing), David Johnson (C&L Fairburn Properties by Jackson Racing) and twice successive Privateers Champion Jamie Coward (KTS Racing Powered by Steadplan). Remaining seeded riders are fitness permitting Nathan Harrison (Honda Racing UK), Dominic Herbertson (GBS Racing), Phil Crowe (Nigel Appleyard/Agri Wash). 2022 Irish Road Race Supersport Champion Michael Browne (BE/RK Racing), Sam West (PRL/Moto Hub), Craig Neve (Bathams Racing) and Team Classic Suzuki’s Shaun Anderson. Further depth to the entry is provided by the likes of Brian McCormack (Roadhouse Macau by FHO), Rob Hodson (SMT Racing), Paul Jordan (PreZ Racing), David Datzer (MTP Racing). Jim Hind, Michael Evans, Joey Thompson (HeatTech Racing), Matt Stevenson (Dafabet Racing). Rennie Scaysbrook (Wilson Craig Racing), Jonathan Perry (Gordon Huxley Racing), James Chawke, Peoples Bike Team’s Rhys Hardisty, Stephen Parsons. Julian Trummer (WH Racing), Italian star Stefano Bonetti, Forest Dunn, Manx GP to TT graduates Stephen Smith (DP Coldplaning/TC Racing) and Amalric Blanc. Sole American entrant is PRL/Moto Hub backed Chris Sarbora whilst South African representation is ensured thanks to the returning AJ Venter. Newcomers sampling the six-lap Superbike, Senior races are World Endurance legend, former IRRC Supersport Champion Matthieu Lagrive, Macau Grand Prix winner Erno Kostamo and Jurby Airfield virtuoso Ryan Cringle. All three have the core talent, aptitude, temperament to give top accounts of themselves as they take their first steps into TT affiliated 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. Photo credit: Mark Corlett, Nick Wheeler Words by Stevie Rial #dontletfearcontrolyou
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