Archive for February, 2013

Roy Richardson retires from TT

Posted: February 27, 2013 in Uncategorized

One of the Mountain Course’s best-ever specialists, Blackpool’s Roy Richardson, has retired from the TT and will now concentrate on backing young gun Jamie Coward while continuing to ride in the classic races at the Manx GP, now the Classic TT.  Roy messaged me today with the news which comes as a surprise remembering his superb display last year when he took 7th and 11th places on the Barnes Racing R6 in the two Supersport races.  But he feels the time is right and one thing’s for sure, young Jamie could hardly have a better mentor.

Roy on Dick Linton's Aermacchi, with Dick, Johnny Walker and Steve Robinson, August 2010. Photo: CL

Roy on Dick Linton’s Aermacchi, with Dick, Johnny Walker and Steve Robinson, August 2010. Photo: CL

Roy, whose addiction to motor sport was inspired by his trials-riding kart-racing grandmother, made his TT debut in 1998 and achieved five top-10 finishes including 3rd in the 250cc race in 2002 and overall 2nd in the 250 TT staged at Billown in 2009. He was one of the pioneers of the electric bikes, riding the American Brammo in the inaugural TTXGP in 2009, although the machine didn’t make it to the finish.

Roy had a bitter-sweet Manx GP last year, retiring in both the Junior and Senior Classics but posting the fastest lap of the race in the former. It all came good in the Junior Post Classic though when he took the Dick Linton/Martin Bullock TZ250 to victory by an awesome one minute 29.94 seconds. That was Roy’s 10th MGP win and puts him second only to Bob Heath on 11 in the all-time roster.

As well his smooth riding skills Roy has brought a dash of flamboyance to the Mountain Course with his Blackpool FC-inspired tangerine leathers and his helmets painted like a gridiron footballer. Pick of them all was the lid which he had decorated with the face of then Blackpool manager Ian Holloway. Thundering down the bypass at Billown, head down, it looked just like Holloway was riding the bike. Roy has just about seen the lot over the last few years, promotion and relegation at Bloomfield Road, success and near misses in his charity golf tournaments, and a string of superlative performances at the TT and the Manx. He’ll be missed on the TT grid, and respected on the Classic TT grid.

TT Legends titleLast night’s episode in the ITV4 TT Legends series was the one we’ve been waiting for, the moment when the circus arrives on the island. With the help of North One’s pictures and Manx Radio’s commentary the producers gave us their very selective take on practice week and the Superbike TT. In many ways the plot worked out very well for them because two of the Honda TT Legends team, John McGuinness and Cameron Donald, took the top two places and the third team member, Simon Andrews, made dramatic headlines of his own by crashing heavily at Graham’s Memorial and being airlifted to hospital.

The series scores with its behind-the-scenes insights and we saw plenty of those last night. The cameraderie of the riders came across clearly and there were some entertaining moments in the motorhomes of John and Simon. I thought the programme could have done a better job in explaining to non-aficionadoes why Cameron was suddenly in a different team from the others, and of course we have to remember that the whole series is focused on the Honda TT Legends team, which explains why third-placed Bruce Anstey barely got a mention last night.

Overall, though, it is so good that another production company (Gaucho Productions) is bringing the drama and vibrancy of the TT to a wider audience. It’s also intriguing to see how, like Closer to the Edge and Duke Video, they are using Manx Radio’s commentaries to illuminate the pictures. I thought it sounded quite exciting!

ManxradioTT365 will close in April

Posted: February 12, 2013 in Uncategorized

Manx Radio announced this morning that the TT-dedicated website manxradioTT365.com will close on April 26th.  Full statement here. The news came out of the blue to me, I had no indication that this was in the offing. The website has been an amazing resource. One thing’s for sure, it’s closure is nothing to do with the quality or quantity of the content for which Manx Radio’s Dan Walker deserves huge credit.manxradiott365

Winter training?

Posted: February 10, 2013 in Uncategorized

This isn’t exactly TT but worth a look. I caught this cool display by a motorcycle stunt team called Michael’s Riders at Circus Vegas in Liverpool last night. The bikes are Yamaha TTR 125s. Click here for the video.  Michael's Riders

Grand Prix RacerIf you decide to make a film about motorbike racing on the Isle of Man you have a problem. It’s a bit like writing a poem about the Lake District. A guy called Wordsworth has already said most of what there is to say about daffodils. For Rob Hurdman and the Greenlight team, the shadow of Closer to the Edge must have loomed large. Not to mention the annual TT highlights on ITV4, the DVDs, and the latest offering, the Honda TT Legends series. So what do you do? Something completely different of course. And that is what the film Grand Prix Racer does.

I’ve only seen the cutdown as shown on ITV4 this week so I can’t comment on the full version. I’d describe the ITV4 screening as not so much a feature film as a genuine documentary. Rob and his team took us inside the meeting by following several of 2012’s newcomers, from the moment they landed on the island to the end of the Newcomers’ races. It was an inspired approach which guaranteed an original and fascinating insight into road racing on the Mountain Course. The big names were there, but were shown in minor roles – Ryan Farquhar and Michael Dunlop barely got a look-in as the camera concentrated on Kamil Holan, Adam Nix, the Hodson brothers, Gaby Burn and more. Even Chris Palmer was only featured as the tour guide for the newcomers learning their way round. Which for me was how the film won its laurel wreath. It took us to a familiar setting but in a different way.

The scenes of the Czech rider Holan with his bed and breakfast hosts Ned Bowers and family were delightful. Bowers of course is a travelling marshal as well as treasurer of the Manx Motor Cycle club and you might think he already has enough commitments on his plate, so those scenes on their own told us all we needed to know about the nature of the Manx Grand Prix. Holan went on to win the race, triumphing over this incredibly varied line-up of rivals. On the one hand we saw the Hodson lads, sons of TT veteran Jim and steeped in biking lifestyle. On the other, the somewhat eccentric Adam Nix, who was ruled out of racing after suffering concussion and responded by saying ‘boo’, as if someone had confiscated his sherbet lemons.

There was some decent action, though inevitably not in the same bracket as the TT movies. But this wasn’t about getting close to the edge, it was about seeing what the almost mystical beckoning of the Mountain Course can prompt raw novices to achieve.

On the way it showed what a compelling event the Manx Grand Prix is, and how it inspires men and women of all backgrounds.

I was surprised there was no mention of Martin Bullock and his Manxsport team. Martin puts a lot of time, effort, money and pzazz into the MGP, especially the newcomers, and his input would have been valuable.

It was good to hear my old mate Terry Cringle providing the voiceover. That almost makes me forgive the producer for using so many shots of Chris Kinley. Almost….

Going behind the scenes of any big sporting event is always fascinating and the new ITV4 series on the Honda TT Legends by London-based Gaucho Productions got off to a promising start. This first episode (there’ll be eight 30-minute programmes in all) swept across the globe and back again, setting the scene for more detailed portraits to follow.

McGuinness the movie star. photo: Gaucho Productions

McGuinness the movie star. photo: Gaucho Productions

We saw and heard a lot from John McGuinness, Cameron Donald and Simon Andrews and there was some really interesting detail from all of them. McGuinness’s small daughter Maisie looks like being another star of the movie.

 

What a sport of contrasts this is. On the one hand we saw evocative views of Morecambe Bay with John and Becky reliving days picking cockles on the sands, then we saw the shape of Simon Andrews’ right leg after various operations and heard team boss Neil Tuxworth describing the accident that ended his own racing career, the massive traumas that he had to deal with and his emergence from years of intensive treatment.

I love a lot of sports and admire many sportsmen and women, but I do think that those who choose their heroes from the world of road racing have chosen pretty well.