Archive for January, 2011

More headlines from Yamaha

Posted: January 28, 2011 in Uncategorized

Yamaha have followed up their eyebrow-raising capture of Ian Hutchinson by announcing a mouth-watering array of machines and riders to commemorate the marque’s 50th anniversary at the TT this year.

Phil Read, eight-time TT winner, will parade the RD05A 250cc machine that he took to the world title in 1968. Dieter Braun will be on the YZ634 350cc bike which was a winner for Chas Mortimer. Chas himself rides a TZ750. And Tommy Robb and Kel Carruthers will again take on the Mountain Course. The machines of the Dutch-based Yamaha Classic Racing Team will be in evidence at a number of locations around the island. 

It’s been a while since Yamaha made any real impact at the TT. Looks that they mean business this time.

Two-strokes reprieved!

Posted: January 27, 2011 in Uncategorized

Two-stroke racing will feature at Billown again this year. The Southern 100 today announced that enough people have responded  to their recent appeal to guarantee that 250 and 350cc machines WILL rocket past the best commentary position in the world this summer.

Hutchy to ride R1 at TT

Posted: January 26, 2011 in Uncategorized

Ian Hutchinson has signed to ride factory spec R1 at TT, managed by Shaun Muir.

It’s a two-year contract giving Hutchy Yamaha superstock and supersport machines as well as the full-on R1 for the SBK TT and the Senior. The team will contest the usual programme of international road races including Macau, and they’re thinking about racing the R6 in British Supersports.

There was also news of Conor Cummins today. The word from the McAdoo team is that Conor is making great progress recovering from last year’s injuries. He’s off the crutches and concentrating on improving the movement of his left knee. There’ll be no more wecome sight in May than Conrod lining up on the grid on Glencrutchery Road.

The most chilling piece of news of the week was the revelation by Ian Hutchinson that he was close to losing his left leg in the aftermath of his crash at Silverstone last September. We all know what a tough sport this is, but there is a tendency to think that short circuit racing is fairly sanitised these days and only on the roads are the risks worth discussing. Hutchy’s experience shows the fallacy of that. It also shows what incredible skills he has brought to the riding of the Mountain Course, that he could stay on board for five long races, keep a hungry pack of chasers at bay, and win the lot without hint of a mishap.

Hutchy in practice, Braddan 2010. Pic: CL

Hutchy’s injury is one reason why there has been no announcement yet of a new contract for 2011.  When I interviewed him at the Manx Grand Prix Hutchy made it clear he hoped to continue with Clive Padgett’s set-up, and why wouldn’t he after the team delivered such a fabulous package in 2010! But no-one was committing themselves then and they still haven’t.

In the meantime Clive has signed Bruce Anstey, so if he is to retain Hutchy he is going to be committing a lot more resources, cash and kit, to the international road races than ever before.  Clive is on record as saying that he hopes to run Hutchy as well as Bruce, but we haven’t seen that in concrete yet.

Meanwhile the line-up for 2011 is fascinating. Keith Amor continues with the ‘official’ Honda team alongside John McGuinness. Keith is now the official successor to Steve Plater and not just a stop-gap sub. Guy Martin is with a new-look Relentless by TAS set-up – identity of his team-mate to be confirmed. Cameron Donald has gone to Wilson Craig. Conor Cummins remains with McAdoo Kawasaki. There could be some really interesting combinations on the podium this year but I’m expecting the most familiar name of the lot, John McGuinness, to bounce back with at least one big-bike win for the rechristened Honda Legends team. Michael Dunlop and Dan Kneen will be in the mix as well – Dan’s first TT podium could come in one of the Supersport races.

Meanwhile a decision will be announced soon as to when Radio TT will start its broadcasts this year. For the last few years we’ve launched on the Friday evening before the first day of practice on the Saturday. This year there is no Saturday practice and therefore no action on the Mountain Course till the Monday, so that may mean the start of Radio TT being likewise deferred. I don’t expect that to have any impact on the coverage of the pre-TT Classic at Billown, though.

Another deal for Guy

Posted: January 14, 2011 in Uncategorized

Guy Martin has signed for another year sponsored by Red Torpedo. So we can still buy our “sucking rabbits from the hedges” T shirts.

People power still with us

Posted: January 8, 2011 in Uncategorized

I was worried when I checked on the website of the People’s Bike and discovered the link took me to some alien website which was nothing to do with motorbikes. Was something seriously wrong with the proletariat’s flag carrier?

The People's Bike

I was reassured by Eunice Cubbon, one of the team principals, that the team is very much alive and well and cracking on with plans for this year. There’s been a problem with the website but elsewhere it’s business as usual and an announcement about the main rider for 2011 should be made soon.

Two-stroke racing at Billown is under threat. The organisers of the Post-TT races and the Southern 100 are debating whether to call time on the two-strokes – but you can influence their thinking. Southern 100 race secretary George Peach is asking riders and sponsors who can commit to race this year to let him know asap. I guess an avalanche of emails to georgepeach@manx.net  will be hard to resist.

The problem is that the number of entries has been in decline. The grid can handle 32 250cc machines and 36 125s and it’s a fantastic sensation for me as the commentator in the ‘box that rocks’ to experience the start of a full-on competitive two-stroke event with all the noise and aromas that implies. But the entries need to stay buoyant and George and the committee need to be sure that the races will be well supported.

Southern 100 races this year are July 11 to 14. The Post TT is June 11.

Full marks to the Southern 100 for throwing the debate open before announcing a decision. Now let’s see what the response is like.

Meanwhile dates have today been announced for a familiarisation trip to the IOM for potential MGP entrants. February 25/26 has been pencilled in and another weekend will be organised in March. The organisers hope to confirm all dates and announce whether any financial assistance is available later this month. Anyone wanting to register an interest should email jimhunter@wiimanx.net .