Posts Tagged ‘John McGuinness’

1. Ian Hutchinson. Redefined the possibilities of sports rehab.

2. John McGuinness. Class, consistency, longevity. Time to revive that campaign for a Royal honour. But then, he’s King of the Mountain already.

High point: McGuinness at Brandywell in the Senior. Photo: Alan Knight

High point: McGuinness at Brandywell in the Senior. Photo: Alan Knight

3. The Isle of Man public. Generous response to mean weather in practice week.

4. The Birchalls. Like Klaffi a few years ago, massive reward for putting their short-circuit reputations on the line.

5. James Hillier. Speed, control, dignity, modesty. TT titles await.

6. Dave Molyneux. A special lap to break a special record.

7.  Gary Thompson. The Clerk of the Course came up with so many correct answers an appearance on University Challenge must only be a matter of time.

8. Bruce Anstey. Specialist subject: making the horrendously difficult look ridiculously easy.

9. Michael Dunlop. Went through the pain barrier time and time again.

10. North One production team. Camera work and editing were quite brilliant.

11. Derek McGee. I saw him racing as a novice at Athea a few years ago and thought then that a future TT star was being born. The leading newcomer goes home with a clutch of bronze replicas. Name to watch.

12. Peter Hickman. Second year at the TT and he’s beating Anstey, Martin and McGuiness? You can’t be serious.

13. Ivan Lintin. Manx GP graduate has done everything the right way.

14. Keith Flint. The prodigy frontman hummed the melody, Hutchy played it.

15. The marshals. Orange army in the pink, as ever.

16. Clive Padgett. Not for the first time, his team punched above its weight.

17. Isle of Man Police. They had more to deal with than they should have. Good online communication.

18. Fiona Baker-Milligan. The TT’s highest-placed woman this year.

19. ITV schedulers for placing ‘Closer to the Edge’ on mainstream TV at the start of the fortnight – with repeat on ITV4.

20. Johnny Moss. Manx Radio’s quirkiest newsman put together a lovely montage to end the station’s TT broadcasts.

 

 

It’s usually dangerous to draw too many conclusions from the NW200 about likely outcomes at the TT. Alastair Seeley’s dominance at the Causeway Coast is one reason. Seeley consistently mops up at the North West but doesn’t do the TT. Despite that, there are maybe some pointers to be found.

I don’t want to go any further though without saying that the most important thing is the wellbeing of the woman who was seriously injured in Saturday’s three-bike incident. I felt too many people were too quick to ‘move on’ from this desperate accident. ‘The helicopter got away, how soon can we get back to the racing?’ No, that’s not the right way to go. As I write, over 24 hours has passed and the woman is still on the critical list in the Royal Victoria Hospital in Belfast. I sincerely hope she makes a good recovery. The same thoughts go to Stephen Thompson, also rated critical having been involved in the same incident.

We can’t tip Seeley for success at the TT, but we can say that his Tyco/TAS team have got the BMW working well. If that level of preparation carries through to the team’s BMWs on the island, then their TT experts William Dunlop and Guy Martin should prosper. William has the edge on Guy at the moment and Guy will have to be properly focused on the island. His ‘boring boring’ rant was out of order and also out of character, more a sign of frustration than anything else. I’d love Guy to win in what he says will be his last TT – although he hinted in a BBC NI interview that he might have second thoughts. At the moment, I have to say I think he’ll do well to get on the podium, never mind win.

Michael Dunlop’s switch to Shaun Muir’s Yamaha team makes forecasting even more difficult. Much the same as Hutchy’s switch to Shaun’s outfit after his five-out-of-five on Clive Padgett’s Hondas, before injury intervened. Michael has done it all on Honda and BMW bikes – but Yamaha? Well, if I’ve learnt one thing, it is never to bet against M.Dunlop. He will be a major contender. So will John McGuinness and Conor Cummins on the Hondas. The North West confirmed Lee Johnston as a big player, winner of the Superstock on Saturday. And Hutchy looked pretty good too, thank goodness, third in the Superstock and second in the Superbike, both on Paul Bird’s Kawasakis. The weekend also reminded us that Bruce Anstey is very much in the frame.

It’s impossible this year to come up with a single overwhelming favourite so it looks like we’re set for a massively exciting TT with the victories being shared around a bit more than in recent years.

I hope Guy turns up with his mojo in good working order. And I do hope Michael doesn’t go for a repeat of a silly little stunt at the start of proceedings on Saturday when he seemed to be goading the excellent BBC reporter Stephen Watson into giving a gratuitous plug to Michael’s sponsors. Stephen dealt with it well, but come on Michael. If Stephen had fallen for your little trick he’d have been in big trouble with his bosses. If anyone had tried to make me do something which is a disciplinary offence, if not a sackable one, when I was at the BBC I’d have thought long and hard before giving him any live TV exposure again.

Update: BBC TV interview with NW200 Race Director Mervyn Whyte, May 18th 2015

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TT Talking books

Delighted to report that ‘TT Talking’ is now officially published and is available in bookshops and also by post from the publishers www.veloce.co.uk.   It retails at £14.99. The publishers have a number of personally signed copies so if you’d like one of those please give them a call on 01305 260068 or email them at info@veloce.co.uk. There are also signed copies available at the Lexicon and Waterstones in Strand Street, Douglas. The book is also available at http://www.amazon.co.uk/books. Please post a review at Amazon!

 

 MANX TV INTERVIEW June 2014

Watch it here

 

TALKING ABOUT ‘TT TALKING’

Hear my interview with Talk Radio Europe on 22/4/14 here

Talk-Radio-Europe

TT Talking celebration

Celebrating the launch of ‘TT Talking’ with photographers Dorothy Lambert and Alan Knight and Al’s partner Jackie

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

THANK YOU

I’d like to say a few thank-yous because a lot of people have helped me bring this book to fruition. John McGuinness has written a very generous foreword, somehow finding the time in a busy schedule. To have THE top rider willing to put his name to my book is a huge compliment. Phil Wain and Chris Kinley read the manuscript and came up with some great comments and suggestions, especially Phil who was absolutely brilliant and steered me away from a few high-sides. Michael Dunlop 2nd 600 KirkmichealAlan Knight has provided most of the pictures. It was hard to know which to leave out. For example this one, of Michael Dunlop at Kirk Michael is one that isn’t included. My wife Dorothy captured a lot of behind-the-scenes moments over the years and the book includes a number of her photos.  I also want to thank the guys at Veloce, specialists in publishing motor sport books – Rod Grainger, Kevin Quinn and Kevin Atkins, for their professionalism in editing, designing and producing the finished product.

Of course none of this would have been possible without the raw material generated by the most exciting road races of them all and the terrific buzz that is part of the live broadcasting operation. I hope ‘TT Talking’ does something to reflect the spirit of the races, perhaps in a way that hasn’t quite been done before, while at the same time lifting the lid on the fun and the stress of being at the sharp end of the radio broadcasts.

 

Leading the funeral of Paul Dobbs was the most emotional event

Leading the funeral of Paul Dobbs was the most emotional event

I've never known anything like the day when Crowe and Cox crashed near Ballaugh

I’ve never known anything like the day when Crowe and Cox crashed near Ballaugh

Paul Owen's truck gets a mention all of its own!

Paul Owen’s truck gets a mention all of its own!

There's no script for times like this! You just have to find something else to talk about.

There’s no script for times like this! You just have to find something else to talk about.

So here we are with the final four choices in my personal hit parade of Twenty Top Memories from the commentary box over 18 TT/MGP meetings and 193 races.

4Fourth place goes to one of the moments thatAnstey make the job so exciting – when the time trial nature of the races really comes into its own and it’s too close to call as the riders head down from Cronk ny Mona on the last lap. It’s last year, 2012, and the first of the 600cc Supersport races. The race has settled into a duel between Cameron Donald on Wilson Craig’s Honda and Bruce Anstey on Clive Padgett’s Honda. There’s nothing to choose between them and I have my stopwatch at the ready as Cameron flashes across the line. Then the excitement builds as we count down the seconds until Bruce arrives – and as I stop the watch I declare in my unofficial view that the Kiwi has won it. He has – by 0.77 seconds. They’ve been racing for 150 miles and it comes down to a few yards, and ten hours of broadcasting that day boil down to a split second. Magic.

03These are my most memorable moments, not necessarilyOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA the happiest, and this is one of the toughest situations I had to deal with – the crash involving six-time winner Nicky Crowe and twice-winner Mark Cox in the second Sidecar TT in 2009. It’s been a day of delays and I’ve been talking to the boys in the awning as we wait to see if racing will take place. Then we’re off, and the lads are first away. They pass the commentary point at Glen Helen but then the computer screen goes blank: no sign of them at the next transponder point, Ballaugh. Red flags appear. We hear Nicky and Mark have crashed at Ballacob on the approach to Ballaugh. After that, nothing in terms of reliable news. Rumours abound, among them the horrible report that the paramedics are treating one of them and leaving the other in the road, from which I have to assume that one is beyond help. It is truly awful and I am holding the fort as best I can, machines circulating the wrong way round the course back to the Grandstand, the fear gnawing away that before long I’m going to be told terrible news but saying nothing about any of the rumours. In the end racing is abandoned and we go off air. Eventually we hear that they are both in Nobles and both are badly injured – but alive. I remember that as much as the horrendous suspense that went before and that’s why the moment makes it up to No 3: the absolute relief and gratitude that they’d survived.

2Second spot is that man McGuinness again and another lap record. 16 John McGuinness. Pic by Dorothy LambertThe reason for this choice is simple. It’s the Superbike TT 2004 and my very first Radio TT commentary. First race, first lap, from a standing start McGuinness on the No 3 Yamaha rewrites the lap record. I recall standing looking at the timing screen, which was very unfamiliar then, wondering whether to believe it or not and anxious not to broadcast any false information. But it’s true: 17 minutes, 43.8 seconds. I’ve just commentated on the fastest lap in the then 97-year history of the TT Races. What a way to start! McGuinness’s average speed of 127.68mph slashes 3.2 seconds off the previous best set by David Jefferies two years earlier. I don’t know what shape John is in, but I’m shakin’ all over.

01Number one is not a TT moment at all, but the CraigManx Grand Prix. The Junior race in 2006. The first two riders to leave the line side by side are Yorkshire’s Craig Atkinson and Ireland’s Derek Brien. They get the tap on the shoulder at the same time, they depart at the same time. After three laps, with one circuit of the mountain to go, there are only seven-tenths of a second between them, Atkinson leading. This can never happen again – riders no longer start in pairs at either the MGP or TT. Past Ramsey and over Snaefell it is still nip and tuck, neither man able to make a decisive break. This is going to be closer than close. I lock my gaze onto the tarmac of Glencrutchery Road and the Honda of Atkinson and the Kawasaki of Brien scream into view, still cheek by jowel as if strapped by gaffer tape. This is no time to be waiting for the computer to process the information, I call it as I see it: Atkinson. Even though I’m watching at an angle and not dead in line, I’m sure Craig has won it. Then the computer has its say: Atkinson, by one hundredth of a second. One hundredth of a second!! Phew! And what drama! The adrenalin is still fizzing days later and that’s only the commentator!  Without doubt the most exciting moment I’ve known in live broadcasting, anywhere. And that’s why Craig Atkinson’s duel with the equally brilliant Derek Brien at the MGP 2006 is my number one Mountain Memory.

We’re moving into the business end of my personal Top Twenty Mountain Course moments in my nine years as lead commentator at the TT and Manx Grand Prix. Up to now my hit parade has included the funny and the quirky as well as moments of sporting theatre. Today we are well and truly into the category of history-makers.

8In at Number Eight is the Godfather himself, John McGuinness. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIt’s the Senior TT in 2009 and a high-quality grid looks certain to provide us with some rapid speeds. Even so, the stat that my computer screen blinks out as McGuinness slows into pit lane at the end of lap two comes as a stunner: 131.578mph. “Ohhh, look at that!” I bellow into the mic, oblivious to the fact that no-one else can actually see it. “It’s one-three-one!”  The first 131mph lap ever and a wonderful, exhilarating moment for us all. Such is TT though: John is denied a victory chance when his chain snaps and Steve Plater takes the win.

7Same year, but the summer is burning out and this is a carolynndifferent kind of history but no less remarkable. I’m in my lofty perch watching the Ultra Lightweight race at the Manx Grand Prix. We’re wondering if Carolynn Sells can become the second woman on the podium after Maria Costello, after all she was well placed in 2008 before coming off at Windy Corner. It’s the midway point in the race and riders are coming in for the routine pit stop. Carolynn’s bright orange Yamaha FZR400 rockets into view – but does not slow down. She scorches past the pit wall, head down. What’s happening? A desperate blunder or a brilliant strategy? All is revealed soon enough. Brilliant strategy. The Paul Morrissey/Martin Bullock team has calculated their fuel consumption to the drop and without any pit stop Carolynn wins the race and I’m saluting the first woman ever (and still) to win a solo race around the Mountain Course. Afterwards we examine the stats again and work out that she would still have won even with a pit stop.

6The thought of any one rider winning five out of fiveHutchy TT races in a single year seems ridiculous but in 2010 Mission Impossible takes place before my very eyes. Just as remarkable, all races are won with the same manufacturer and the same team, Padgetts Honda. In a day of sometimes painful drama, in which Guy Martin survives a fireball at Ballagarey and Conor Cummins is seriously banged up at the Verandah, Ian Hutchinson emerges triumphant in the four-lap restarted Senior TT, leading from flag to flag with two 131 laps in the first two.  Hutchy, McGuinness and Conor all exceed 131 on the first lap. The race ends with Hutchy standing on the pegs as the Honda coasts across the line and into Ian’s own chapter of TT history.

05Number Five is another Magnificent McGuinness moment. johnWe’re at the Centenary TT in 2007 and the island has been simply spectacular all week with re-enactments, celebrity visitors, and terrific racing. One thing remains: we’re into the last race of the meeting, the Senior TT, and no-one has yet done a 130mph lap. Enter the Morecambe Missile. Lap Two, and here’s the HM Plant Honda Fireblade as the klaxon sounds to indicate a pit stop. Has it been done this time? It’s a real possibility. There’s the timing computer’s verdict. “It has been done! It HAS been done!!”  The engineers are frantically winding the volume down because my voice is busting the decibels at the top end.  130.354mph is the new record and John goes on to wrap up his 13th TT win with a new race record as well.

Tomorrow: Four to go. Which moments make the podium? Which is my all-time Number One? 

Destiny is spoken about a lot in sport. Mostly, the notion doesn’t stand up to close scrutiny. But with the Dunlop dynasty, it’s real. Destiny is in the DNA and today we saw its fulfilment yet again.

Michael’s vistory in the Superbike TT was simply sensational. He took control of the race from lap one in the way we usually associate with the maestro himself, John McGuinness. After that, he built up his advantage with the remorseless power of Muhammad Ali at his peak in a different sport. Michael was in a class of his own today.

Michael leads Cam Donald at Doran's Bend. photo: Alan Knight

Michael leads Cam Donald at Doran’s Bend. photo: Alan Knight

I love watching Michael Dunlop ride a motorbike. He is not just a competitor, he is a racer. He is a raw battler, a rider who burns with winning ambition. Whatever the weather, whatever the track conditions, Michael is up for a race.  And he goes for it with every part of his being. Heart and soul as well as head.

Five years ago I was on the Causeway Coast to see Michael win a most emotional victory at the NW200, less than 48 hours after the death of his dad, Robert, in practice for the same event.

Both Michael, then 20, and elder brother William were entered to ridethe 250cc race but both said they would withdraw after the accident. Then they changed their minds, only for William’s bike to break down before the start. Michael then took part in an amazing battle with Christian Elkins and John McGuinness before snatching the lead on the last lap and holding on to win.  If anyone ever doubted what a sporting victory can mean to a family, this raised the bar to a new level.

Today we were in that special Dunlop universe again. Honda marked the 30th anniversary of Joey’s first TT win for them by kitting out John McGuinness in replica bike, helmet and leathers. Wonder why they didn’t bestow the honour on Joey’s nephew? Wonder if Michael wondered the same thing? Whatever, Michael rode with the determination of a man who was going to leave nothing in the tank in his zeal to put the Dunlop name on top of the podium.

John McGuinness in Joey replica gear today. photo: Alan Knight

John McGuinness in Joey replica gear today. photo: Alan Knight

What a race. McGuinness confirmed his star status too. Many sportsmen would have backed off after picking up a penalty like that 60-second penalty and settled just for bringing the bike home, but John’s response, to set a new outright lap record, was simply breathtaking. And Josh Brookes proved he wasn’t just on the island for the publicity with a barely-believable lap of 127.726mph.

I’ve run out of adjectives. What a race. What a winner. What a dynasty.

Sensational debut. Josh Brookes on the Tyco Suzuki. photo: Alan Knight

Sensational debut. Josh Brookes on the Tyco Suzuki. photo: Alan Knight

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!